BEAM citizens, bring out your evidence!

As many of you may have seen on the BEAM Exchange webpage, newsletter, and LinkedIn, BEAM is appealing to you, the BEAM community, for your evidence on market systems development projects. We want you to know the reasons why this search for evidence is so important:

  1. We want to build on our existing learning culture

You only have to look at the healthy dialogue we have on LinkedIn, and the numerous webinars we host, to see that we have strong values when it comes to sharing information and learning together. We want information about market systems development projects to be widely available in the market systems community of practice.  Not only this, but we also want to make information accessible to other development practitioners, and hopefully encourage others to adopt these practices.

  1. We want to know what works…
  • We want to know who has had success with which market development interventions, but not to create a ‘blueprint’ for implementation. We know that in complex market systems every intervention must be tailored and adapted, so
  • We also want to know what worked where, and in what context;
  • We want to know not only the extent of the impact achieved, but also why and how it was achieved;
  • We want to know who benefited—producers and/or traders? The very poor and/or the not-so-poor? Men and/or women?
  1. We want to know what doesn’t work

I am a big advocate of learning from failure, and we know that failure in market systems projects is a natural part of experimentation and piloting. To not document these results as well as results of successful interventions would be a mistake. But again, because of complex systems, what didn’t work in one context, might work in another – so we need the same sort of nuanced information as for point no. 2.

  1. We want a diversity of evidence

We know no evidence is perfect, but most evidence has value! This is a point that came out in Elise Wach’s recent BEAM Think piece on evidence. In essence, we do want good quality evidence, but it doesn’t have to be from a Randomized Control Trial. We are not prescriptive about your research design or data collection methods. It is important to be reflective as a community on what kind of evidence we can feasibly produce, that still brings value, and what shortcomings we still have to overcome when producing evidence.


BEAM Exchange Evidence map

So now you have heard our reasons, over to you! Dig deep into the subfolders of your PC, and think ‘What evidence from my work can I share with the world?’ Take a look at our Evidence map, and ask yourself – ‘What evidence do I have that can fill that empty looking square?’  Please ‘Adopt a quadrant’ of the BEAM evidence map!

Jessica Rust-Smith, March 2016