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Browse recent blogs of interest to the Marketlinks community. Use the search box or the filters on the left-hand side to refine the listing of blogs by keyword, topic, and/or region/country.

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Stop Talking and Start Listening

Author(s):

Andi Curry
By Kalkidan Lakew YihunProgram Coordinator, Women (in VSLAs) Respond, CARE USA There are few certainties in life, but one I have come to recognize, is that women in crisis will always take incredible action – whether there is outside intervention or not. 

Advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment: Private Sector Engagement Landscaping Study

Author(s):

USAID Women's Economic Empowerment Community of Practice
Growing evidence suggests that companies which increase women’s equitable participation experience overall business growth, stronger financial performance, and increased productivity. According to the evidence, these companies can attract the best talent, focus on innovation, and gain access to new and changing markets. To create a detailed review of what evidence currently exists, this study looks at policies, practices, and programs for increasing women’s equitable participation. 

Finance Champions: Summaries and Takeaways from USAID Missions in Georgia, India, Kosovo and the REFS Bureau

Author(s):

Lawrence Camp
The Finance Champions group was established in March 2023 with the aim to share innovative approaches being tested by USAID Missions, Bureaus and Independent Offices and to exchange learning on the topic of mobilizing finance in development. This group, which is internal to USAID, meets every six weeks, and has grown from an initial group of 20 to 160 members.

Expanding Internet Access in Rural Morocco

This photo blog is based on an interview with AFCHIX Morocco Coordinator Houda Chakri conducted on May 17, 2023. Photographs taken by Mosa’ab Elshamy on April 30, 2023. Ait Izdeg’s 8,400 residents live deep in the Atlas Mountains in central Morocco. Their town’s remote location has made it challenging to access reliable Internet. Until now.

Advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment: Gender-Based Violence Landscaping Study

Author(s):

USAID Women's Economic Empowerment Community of Practice
An increasing body of evidence shows the critical importance of addressing gender-based violence (GBV) in the world of work as an essential component of women’s economic empowerment (WEE). GBV contributes to poverty, magnifies the gender gaps in labor force participation and pay, and affects advancement opportunities.

Business Skills and Digital Financial Literacy Leads to Higher Revenue for Women Micro-Entrepreneurs in India

Author(s):

Innovation, Technology, and Research Hub
Developed through a partnership between the USAID and Mastercard, Project Kirana focused on helping women micro entrepreneurs gain the tools they need to grow their businesses in India. Project Kirana recognized the complex set of problems encountered by women micro entrepreneurs in India: limited business and digital financial capabilities, and limited access to formal financial services. By equipping women entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools they needed — including financial and digital literacy expertise, business management skills, and strategies for addressing cultural barriers — over 2,500 women were able to grow their small retail businesses and increase their incomes.

What Do We Know about the Impacts and Social Return on Investment (SROI) of Peacebuilding Interventions

Around the globe, communities are faced with complex challenges and facilitating and sustaining peace remains of critical importance. While peacebuilding programming is implemented throughout the world, little is known about the overall impact and return on investment of these programs. Historically, program evaluations in this field (and in international aid and development broadly) have offered information on outputs, for example the number of people who participated in training, but this information remains insufficient to truly understand the impact.

BD4FS Pre-HACCP Validation Audit and Badge Program

Author(s):

Food Enterprise Solutions (FES)
To address the lack of food safety certifications available at the SME level and validate the implementation of project trainings, Feed the Future Business Drivers for Food Safety designed the BD4FS Pre-HACCP Validation Badge program. Working with growing food businesses (GFBs) interested in earning a Validation Badge, BD4FS held specialized trainings, offered technical assistance, and organized a professional food safety audit of 21 Senegalese GFBs.

Utilizing Impact Incentives for Climate Finance and Financial Inclusion in Northern Kenya: USAID Kuza's Innovative Approach

Author(s):

ACDI VOCA
Lack of access to finance is universally regarded as one of the most significant constraints to economic development. Without affordable and appropriate capital, Northern Kenyan individuals and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are prevented from participating in the formal economy, capitalizing on business opportunities, investing in their livelihoods, and responding to shocks, such as natural disasters.

Constellations to Guide Us from the Dark - From Value Chains to Locally Led and Owned Value Networks

Author(s):

Paul Crook
Several terms have gained prominence in recent times. The SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19, pandemic caused much thinking on localisation and heightened questions surrounding shifting the power. As we moved forward from the worst of the pandemic, lessons have been drawn in different ways by those seeking to make changes happen. Regularly, this is within the specific organisational agenda noting one of the rules of a bureaucracy is to perpetuate itself. Shifting the power is great – as long as my job is ok?

Six Months into the Journey, What Have I Learned?

Author(s):

Holly Krueger
Six months into the journey, what have I learned? With the goal of learning how market systems development (MSD) programs approached inclusion, I set out to have conversations with GESI and M&E experts from around the world.  Six months into this project, I’ve connected with experts from leading Implementing Partners such as ACDI/VOCA, Palladium, Mercy Corps and World Vision Australia and flagship MSD programs such as Market Development Facility (MDF), Rural Resilience Activity (RRA)and Transforming Market Systems (TMS) Activity.

Government Partnership for Food Safety Culture

Author(s):

Food Enterprise Solutions (FES)
Safe food supports national economies and global trade, in addition to contributing to food security, nutrition, and sustainable development. Governments can facilitate a culture of food safety by creating clear food safety regulations, policies and an enabling environment where small and medium-sized enterprises can thrive. Ethiopia’s government has been continuously upgrading its food safety laws and regulations to meet the requirements of both international buyers and its fast-growing food retail and wholesale establishments.

The Market Corner: Agricultural Market Systems Development—Crop Agnostic or Value Chain Specific?

Author(s):

Marketlinks Team
In agricultural market systems development (MSD), a crucial debate has emerged—whether to adopt a crop-agnostic or a value chain-specific approach. Day 2 of the 2023 Market Systems Symposium explored this debate with insights from experienced professionals, shedding light on the complexities and considerations within this strategic decision-making process.

The Market Corner: Practical Insights at the Operational Level in Market Systems Development from Industry Practitioners

Author(s):

Marketlinks Team
This blogpost is one in a series of blogs sharing insights gained from the Market Systems Symposium 2023. The MSS blogpost provides a brief snapshot of key insights shared across a number of different sessions in MSS 2023 held in Cape Town between 13-15 November 2023. Market Systems Development (MSD) is more than a technical approach—it demands operational adaptation to effectively drive transformative change. On Day 2 of the Market Systems Symposium 2023 discussions among industry experts, valuable insights were shared on practical steps organizations can take within the operational and grants arena to align with the principles of MSD.

The Market Corner: How Organizations Can Embrace a More Intentional Market Systems Development Focus

Author(s):

Marketlinks Team
As a systemic lens is being more widely accepted across development programming, organizations and programs have witnessed a notable shift towards embracing a more intentional Market Systems Development (MSD) approach. This transformation has been spearheaded by thought leaders and change agents who recognize the imperative of adopting a systemic lens. In this blog, we explore insights shared by some prominent practitioners in the field—on Day 2 of the Market Systems Symposium 2023—offering an overview of how their respective organizations have navigated this evolution.

The Market Corner: Market Systems Approach in Conflict

Author(s):

Marketlinks Team
In the dynamic landscape of international development, the intersection of market systems development (MSD) and conflict presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Several conversations on Day 1 at the Market Systems Symposium 2023 centered around MSD and conflict, drawing on experiences from Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.

The Market Corner: Charting the Evolution of the Market Systems Approach

Author(s):

Marketlinks Team
In the vast expanse of global development, where complexity too often reigns alongside chaos, a symphony of collaboration is playing out, weaving together diverse contexts and perspectives. The 6th annual Market Systems Symposium 2023 is bringing esteemed practitioners of Market Systems Development (MSD) to share insights and experiences, shedding light on the intersections of MSD with the three key themes this year: food security, conflict, and climate change. Kristin O'Planick, Market Systems Team Lead at USAID, and Elisabet Montgomery, Senior Policy Specialist Market Development at SIDA—both key figures in the donor working group on MSD—offered opening remarks and a glimpse into the evolving space of market systems development.

Bèf Plizye Met Mouri Grangou: Understanding Systems Dynamics in the Haitian Livestock Sector

Author(s):

Vikāra Institute
The blog provides a summary of how MSR analysis can provide important insights into local contexts that should shape how activities are designed and implemented. The case of Haiti is of particular interest in that the various forces and factors affecting how smallholders manage risks from shocks and stresses have had a profound effect on how they engage market systems. As the authors explain, the MSR analysis provided insights into how smallholders manage a portfolio of animals to cope with such a dynamic and uncertain context.

Growing Quality Pyrethrum in Tanzania for a Growing Global Market

Author(s):

Corus International
The blog provides an excellent case of how smallholders can be integrated into a high-value supply chain when the contexts are effectively considered. The example shows how context specific efforts the generate value will take off, and can emerge as an attractor that encourages ongoing change with knock-on effects. It is also important to recognize that there are concerns related to only working with a single firm.