Short descriptionOne of the most common ways that market systems project drive toward systemic change is to partner with the private sector. Here, projects try to find the incentives for businesses to take on board new or improved business practices, products and services. But if a project wants a partner to adopt a new way of doing business, the project must first understand the company’s business model and how an innovation aligns with the core incentives of the partner company. This seems easy on paper, but is quite difficult in practice. Projects operate in data poor environments, have to navigate complex relationship building processes, and often lack the skills to interpret commercial performance from the private sector perspective.
To date, market systems projects have focused on discussing, measuring and managing towards the ends of impact – benefits to the target group – rather than on the means of delivering impact: the business models themselves. This has resulted in a lack of tangible guidance on how to navigate this challenge and in turn, a lack of understanding about how business models are structured and delivered within the array of commercial decisions involved – from costs to cash flow to return on capital. This paper explores cases in Afghanistan, Zambia, Kosovo and Nigeria to draw out practical lessons on how market systems practitioners can support business models that bring both commercial viability and development impact.
This is the extended version of the paper with detailed case studies. A more concise summary is located here.