New Project Underway to Improve Market Systems to Generate Growth


Family stands in field with harvested vegetables

USAID’s Office of Microenterprise and Private Enterprise Promotion (MPEP) recently awarded the three-year Leveraging Economic Opportunities (LEO) project to ACDI/VOCA to support programming that fosters inclusive growth through markets. Building on USAID’s work in value chains, LEO takes a systems approach to markets. This approach acknowledges the complex interrelationships among market actors, market and household systems, climate change, nutrition, the policy environment, and sociocultural factors, including poverty and gender.

LEO seeks to support missions and implementers in improving the performance of market systems to generate growth, and to structure that growth in such a way that it is inclusive of women and the extreme poor. Further, the project aims to strengthen the resilience of markets—that is, the ability of market systems to adapt to change in ways that sustain and even increase benefits to a wide range of system actors.

Market systems include end markets, the business enabling environment, vertical and horizontal linkages and the relationships embedded in these linkages, input markets and support service markets. They can also include multiple, interrelated value chains.


LEO’s learning agenda incorporates interrelated research topics that respond to the objective of supporting inclusive and sustainable growth through market systems development. This learning agenda includes the following activities:

  • documenting successful business models, such as agent networks and nucleus farmer arrangements, that allow the poor to participate in growth opportunities
  • understanding how to tailor facilitation approaches to meet the needs of the extreme poor without compromising long-term sustainability
  • identifying project modifications and/or complementary activities to promote economic multiplier effects that enable widespread rural development, including on-and off-farm enterprises, services and employment
  • categorizing strategies to empower women, integrate nutrition, and create synergistic push and pull activities to make markets more inclusive of women and the poor
  • learning how to use a systems approach to policy reform to ensure sustainability of impact
  • discovering ways in which market forces can more effectively drive technology adoption at scale
  • responding to challenges and opportunities for monitoring and evaluating changes in market systems catalyzed or supported by project activities

LEO seeks to strengthen USAID and practitioner learning in these areas through collaboration with Agency and country-specific learning initiatives, as well as primary desk- and field-based research that draws on industry working groups and networks. Emerging good practices, recommendations, and guidelines will be distilled from the learning process, peer-reviewed and disseminated through multiple channels. 

For more information, please visit the LEO site.