The impact of programmes that use market systems approaches

Market systems approaches have now been used in a wide range of countries and contexts to promote growth in jobs and income, improve access to services for poor people, and reduce poverty. In spite of this broad use, debate continues on impacts, and the benefits that market systems approaches actually provide for poor people. The apparent patchiness of evidence on this issue was one of the original reasons for establishing the BEAM Exchange programme.

There is in fact a significant body of published documents of different types which does demonstrate that these approaches can change the way that market systems function, and provide important benefits for poor people. However, these materials have not previously been collected and analysed together in order to demonstrate this.

This document therefore reviews the evidence base in order to draw conclusions about effectiveness, and to highlight how outstanding issues about evidence might be resolved.

The review is based on a structured search process that identified 70 relevant documents, from 48 programmes implemented in 22 countries (in some instances there was more than one document for a programme). These can be found on the Evidence Map. A sub-sample of nine documents was further scrutinised, paying attention in particular to methods and the robustness of findings.