Diving In: Updates from the Feed the Future Market Systems and Partnerships Activity
This post is written by USAID's Market Systems Specialist Kristin O'Planick and Feed the Future Market Systems and Partnerships Chief of Party Bronwyn Irwin.
Welcome to the Feed the Future Market Systems and Partnerships community!
Feed the Future is the U.S. government’s global initiative to combat poverty and hunger. The Feed the Future Market Systems and Partnerships (MSP) Activity supports this global initiative by providing services to the U.S. government and its partners to lean in on market systems and private sector engagement that leads to inclusive and resilient agriculture-led economic growth, improved food security and nutrition and increased incomes for the poor.
MSP aims to advance learning and good practice in market systems development (MSD) and private sector engagement (PSE) within USAID, its implementers and market actors. Essentially, we are helping to drive cultural transformation toward market-driven approaches. We know that to achieve this goal, we need to partner with you to build on your ongoing learning and engage you in MSP’s new learning, to exchange tools and good practices and to realize a shared vision of good practice that pushes us towards more transformational impact.
MSP has a unique opportunity, as we operate at the intersection of PSE and MSD. This is the first time these approaches have really been brought together under one global support mechanism. USAID is intentional in doing this — aiming to further enhance the absorption of learning from one to the other to achieve a more sustainable impact at scale. MSD can learn from PSE in terms of leveraging power, influence and assets of the global corporate community in service of a development problem; relationship management; and cocreation. PSE can learn from MSD in areas such as embedding a systems lens into strategic opportunity identification and an expanded set of measurement strategies to monitor and capture transformational impact. At the same time, we recognize the differences in the approaches in terms of:
- Starting points: With PSE, the starting point is addressing a core development problem that is showing up as a business challenge and that neither public nor private actors can solve on their own; with MSD, the starting point is addressing underlying causes of issues to increase competitiveness, inclusiveness and resilience of the market system.
- Tactics: PSE — relationship management; MSD — facilitation.
- USAID’s position: For PSE, the desire for high visibility to leverage the agency’s influence; for MSD, the desire to be invisible to promote local ownership.
Where we are
MSP launched our $30 million Partnership Facility and we are in the process of selecting and codesigning partnerships with the private sector in southern Africa and Cambodia. We are also conducting strategic opportunity identification for a third opportunity in the Solomon Islands, for which we will solicit partnerships later this year. Combined, this represents $11 million in funding committed for coinvestment with the private sector through performance-based partnerships.
The MSP Partnership Facility also provides us with a valuable platform for conducting action research to pilot new approaches and tools, and learn and capture best practices for driving transformational impact through PSE. For example, we are developing a gender lens-investing strategy for the MSP Partnership Facility to maximize returns for women as consumers, employees, producers and business owners. We are excited to finalize our first round of partnerships across southern Africa soon. Future solicitations from our Partnership Facility will be posted on the MSP Partnerships page; we hope you will share those widely with relevant businesses in your network.
MSP also developed a learning agenda, with input from USAID stakeholders, to guide us along the pathway toward learning and good practices in PSE and MSD. We identified six learning streams, depicted in the graphic below, and have launched initial learning activities in each stream.
As we dive into the MSP Learning Agenda, we look forward to engaging with you as thought partners, consultants, advisors and sharers of tools and resources. Over the next few months, MSP will be collaboratively advancing learning on:
- MSD tool stocktaking: To support the application of good practices in MSD, MSP is launching a participatory effort with the MSD community to create a centralized public repository of curated tools for the implementation of the MSD approach, classifying those tools by their proven or potential utility and identifying crucial gaps in the MSD toolkit to be filled in by later activities. Keep an eye out for our call for MSD tools, coming soon.
- Ex-post studies on MSD: Through the end of 2021, MSP will be laying the groundwork for a series of forthcoming, much needed ex-post studies designed to build the evidence base for MSD by evaluating the sustainability and scale of outcomes from specific systems changes catalyzed by MSD activities. We look forward to working with organizations whose activities are selected for these studies.
- Pathways for PSE in nutrition: This guidance offers strategic approaches to engaging the private sector to address and sustain development outcomes in food systems for nutrition, and will include a strategic engagement tool, guidance on partnership archetypes and key case studies around three main pathways: the enabling environment, producer-facing initiatives and consumer-facing initiatives. Many thanks to those who contributed to this work through direct feedback on the tool and guidance, through the Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean Global Learning and Evidence Exchanges (GLEEs) and through the Market Systems Symposium
- Social inclusion return on investment: This synthesis of evidence on the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace in the developing country context will support the business case for social inclusion as well as provide direction for future research. If you know of relevant studies, please send them our way!
We solicited input from stakeholders on the MSP Learning Agenda at the Market Systems Symposium; thank you to those who participated. To provide more detail than what is highlighted above, the MSP Learning Agenda will be posted to our Agrilinks activity page in a couple of weeks. To share feedback on the MSP Learning Agenda, inputs or ideas for any of the learning activities or reach out with questions, please email [email protected]. You can see even more of what we’ve been up to in our latest semiannual report, and keep an eye out for an upcoming newsletter later this summer: sign up for the MSP newsletter mailing list.
This is just the beginning of an exciting, important journey. We are grateful to have you along as peers, sources of inspiration, devil’s advocates and challengers and co-conspirators in influencing change.
The Feed the Future Market Systems and Partnerships (MSP) Activity is advancing learning and good practice in market systems development and private sector engagement within USAID, USAID partners and market actors. For more information, access to technical resources and opportunities to engage, visit www.agrilinks.org/msp.