Six Months into the Journey, What Have I Learned?


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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.

This is what I have learned so far…

Be Intentional

“Achieving more equitable impact is about strong design-thinking and the management response to reflect this in your ‘big rocks’ - the team, partners, interventions and budgets.” – Ellie Wong, Economic Empowerment Manager, World Vision Australia

  • Start with a common vision of success.
  • Use a multi-layered inclusion lens
  • Create consensus around a common set of indicators
  • Write inclusion into the job (title and responsibilities).
  • Emphasize the how as much as the what.

Be Thoughtful

“The biggest realization for us was that intervening in core market systems, however promising, without addressing the interrelated systems that kept the status quo in place may boost jobs, but it won’t necessarily generate inclusive benefits at scale and in the long-term.” – Dun Grover, DCOP, USAID Feed the Future, Transforming Market Systems Activity, ACDI/VOCA

  • Consider the interrelated drivers of exclusion at the start.
  • Address both commercial incentives and social norms which drive behaviour change in market systems
  • Take time upfront to unpack your partner’s vision for success and how that relates to inclusion.
  • Know that specificity is important when it comes to shifting (and measuring changes in) social norms.

Be a Uniter

I need to have the team with me, there is no way I can do this alone.” Anuoluwapo Fashola (Anu),Gender Advisor for the USAID Feed the Future Rural Resilience Activity (RRA), Mercy Corps

  • Get everyone on the team to identify as a gender champion.
  • Create dialogue on the importance of shared value/benefits.

Be Innovative and Creative (with M&E)

“I’m a numbers person by birth. I’m not saying that we should neglect approaches to capturing the numbers, but I think more emphasis should be given to telling the story behind the numbers, and that the spider graph is the best tool we have to do it.” –   Ajla Vilogorac, Director of Research, Impact Measurement and Inclusion, Market Development Facility (MDF), Palladium

  • Visualize the change you want to see.
  • Tailor tools to capture nuances around inclusion in your specific context.
  • Trace your impact
  • Go deeper and create faster feedback loops

This blog series is written by the Canopy Lab’s Managing Partner and Inclusion+ Practice Lead Holly Lard Krueger. The Canopy Lab is a Washington, DC based consulting firm specialized in the practical application of systems thinking.