Get in touch:
T: +44(0)1273 765250

Jessica Rust-Smith

Jessica Rust-Smith joined Itad in 2014 as a consultant in our Private Sector Development theme and was promoted to Senior Consultant in November 2019. As an experienced evaluator, Jessie works across private sector development, market development, women’s economic empowerment and trade, and is familiar with the ‘Making Markets Work for the Poor’ (M4P) Approach and the DCED Standard for results measurement.

Jessica is experienced in project management, monitoring and evaluation (including the use of mixed methods approaches), qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, and she led the gender component of Itad’s evaluation of the Improving Rural Access Programme, which aims to improve access to markets. She has project managed Itad’s complex evaluation of FoodTrade East & Southern Africa, and Itad’s Monitoring and Learning for the DFID & SDC-funded BEAM Exchange (a market systems development learning platform. In previous roles, Jessica promoted organisational change and the strengthening of organisational learning cultures, and previously conducted work for ActionAid International, and Oxfam Canada, among other NGOs, in the topics of agriculture, agri-business, value chain development, and food security.

Jessica holds an MSc in Development Management from LSE and has a working knowledge of French and Chinese.

Find out more about Jessie in her 60 Second Interview.

Nationality: British Canadian
Languages: English (mother tongue), French (intermediate), Mandarin (intermediate)
Country Experience:

Canada, China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Tanzania, Uganda


2011 - 2012
MSc in International Development Management
London School of Economics
2004 - 2008
Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
Queens University, Canada


2019 - Ongoing
Senior Consultant

2014 - 2019

Freelance Consultant

Market Development Strategist & Knowledge and Results Manager
Engineers Without Borders Canada & Kenya Markets Trust

Communications Associate
Ecology Ottawa

2008 - 2010
Documentary Researcher
White Pine Pictures


'Making Markets Work for the Poor' (M4P) Training Program, Springfield Centre

Project Experience:

2016 - Ongoing
The Mastercard Foundation: Savings Portfolio Learning Partner
(Mastercard Foundation ) - Senior Researcher

2019 - Ongoing
2018 - Ongoing
Gatsby Africa: Strategic Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Partnership
(Gatsby Africa) - Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Consultant

2014 - 2019
Evaluation Manager for DFID Tanzania: Rural Roads and Livelihoods
(DFID) - Evaluation Researcher
Description: Itad is evaluating two DFID programmes: the Improving Rural Access Programme (IRAT); and the Livelihood Enhancement through Agricultural Development (LEAD) programme. These investments total £33m to be spent over five years in strengthening agricultural markets and their supporting functions. The purpose of the evaluation is to provide an assessment of the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability and impact of each programme. As part of the work, Itad is providing M&E advice and quality assurance to the implementing partners.

Activities: Responsible for assisting the Team Leader and Evaluation Director in developing the evaluation approach and methodology; and, designing and implementing ongoing evaluation work and the mid-term and final evaluations. Conducted gender-analysis for the final evaluation using Itad’s ‘Self, Society, Institutions’ framework.

2015 - 2019
Evaluation of FoodTrade East & Southern Africa
(DFID) - Project Manager and Evaluation Researcher
Description: FoodTrade E&SA aims to improve the functioning of staple food markets, increase participation in staple food markets, increase regional trade, and raise income levels and security for food producers and consumers. FoodTrade is deploying targeted interventions across a range of areas including: storage, inputs and service markets; market information; and, policy and regulation.

Activities: Jessica has managed this complex evaluation, involving multiple modules, deliverables, and a large team. She led the Portfolio Review of grants as part of the Mid-term Evaluation and Final Evaluation. She also employed the realist evaluation approach to synthesise findings from the evaluation’s baseline case studies.

2014 - 2019
Evaluation Management Unit for West Africa Food Markets Pilot Programme
(DFID) - Evaluation Researcher
Description: West Africa Food Markets (WAFM) aims to improve the functioning of staple food markets, increase participation in staple food markets, increase regional trade, and raise income levels and security for food producers and consumers.

Activities: Jessica has contributed to the design of this longitudinal evaluation of WAFM to assess its efficiency, effectiveness and impact. Employing a diverse set of evaluation methodologies, including qualitative case studies (baseline and endline), value for money assessment, organisational review, and risk and sustainability analysis.

2014 - 2017
BEAM Exchange
(DFID/SDC) - Project Manager and Evaluation Researcher
Main project features: The BEAM Exchange is a multi-donor funded knowledge management facility responding to the demonstrated need for a central global resource to help shape the process of market systems development, codify good practice, demonstrate the benefits of the approach, and increase its applicability to a wider range of sectors and development players.

Activities performed: Jessica was responsible for managing Itad’s delivery of the evidence and monitoring and learning (M&L) work streams for BEAM. This involved managing the resourcing of the contract, ensuring work is delivered within the budget, to time and of high quality, day-to-day communications with the client, and regular reporting on BEAM’s results using the DCED standard. She also co-authored the report ‘The results achieved by programmes using a market systems approach: A narrative synthesis of current evidence’ (2017).

2014 - 2016
Monitoring and Evaluation Services in the Area of Disadvantaged Youth and Digital Employment
(Rockefeller Foundation) - Team Member
Description: Rockefeller Foundation's Digital Jobs Africa (DJA) Initiative is working across six countries to catalyse sustainable ICT jobs for African youth.

Activities: Part of team conducting desk-based research and analysis to construct baseline for DJA in six countries, followed by case studies profiling initiatives.

Mid-term Evaluation for Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Trade and Development
(World Bank) - Evaluation Researcher
Description: Assessed evaluation progress against the OECD-DAC criteria for development effectiveness: relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability.

Activities: A range of data collection methods were applied, including key informant interviews, online surveys, and documentation and data review. Conducted a full portfolio review (level 1); deeper analysis of a sample of grants (level 2); and case studies (level 3), triangulating data sources and analysis to reach sound conclusions and recommendations.

Monitoring & Evaluation of the Nepal Rural Access Programme
(DFID) - Researcher
Description: DFID's Rural Access Programme (RAP) aims to address the lack of physical access and social exclusion that many poor people face through the development of an approach to rural road construction and maintenance that targets the poorest and most disadvantaged groups. Itad is managing the independent Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning Unit (MEL Unit) of the third phase of RAP.

Activities: Jessica conducted a desk-based literature review for a thematic study to be conducted by the MEL Unit. The product of this review was a synthesis of findings from the literature, and methodologies used by other researchers in analysing migration in western Nepal.

Malawi, Independent Impact Evaluation Agent (IIEA) for Tilitonse
(DFID ) - Team Member
Description: Tilitonse is a multi-donor pooled grant making facility that will enable civil society promote a culture of efficiency, accountability, capable and responsive governance. Itad has been appointed as the Independent Impact Evaluation Agent (IIEA) to measure the impact of Tilitonse.

Activities: Responsible for conducting an in-depth qualitative thematic analysis and write up of a baseline longitudinal case study. Case studies will be used for the purpose of conducting contribution analysis.

M&E for Kenya Markets Assistance Programme (KMAP)
(DFID) - M&E Team Member
Description: KMAP aims to reduce poverty in Kenya by enabling poor people to benefit from better functioning markets, and by building greater awareness among influential decision makers of how markets can work better for the poor.

Activities: Jessica was an integral part of the results measurement team. She coordinated the baseline research study (consisting of a quantitative survey, qualitative focus group discussions, and capacity assessments of market actors) for the KMAP media intervention. She constructed results chains and monitoring plans for KMAP's intervention in the seed sector, in line with the DCED Standard.

Uganda Livelihoods and Enterprises for Agricultural Development (LEAD)
(Engineers Without Borders and USAID) - Market Development Researcher
Description: The objective of the LEAD program was to expand sustainable economic opportunities for improved livelihoods, thus increasing the transformation of the rural agricultural economy. This program used a market facilitation approach in interventions in maize and coffee value chains across Uganda.

Activities: Jessica travelled across the country to conduct in-depth interviews with market actors and market facilitators, synthesizing the findings into a report and presentation she gave to the programme's implementers. Jessica produced a close-of project case study examining the extent to which 'crowding in' was happening in this market facilitation intervention. These findings informed some of the implementer's closing-out activities. An edited version of this report was disseminated through online learning networks including the Market Facilitation Initiative (MaFI) on LinkedIn.

ActionAid Report: Private Investment Trends in Agricultural Development
(ActionAid International) - Consultant Team Member
Description: This report, entitled, "Private Investment Trends in Agricultural Development: The impact of large-scale land investments and contract farming on women smallholder farmers", was requested for use by ActionAid in representing the interests of impoverished women farmers at the FAO's Committee on World Food Security.

Activities: Jessica was part of a five-member consulting team, responsible for delivering a report analyzing the effects of private investments in land and agriculture on women smallholder farmers in developing countries. Tasks for producing this report included an extensive literature review, interviews with an international pool of experts, synthesizing data, compiling case studies, report writing and editing, and presentation of the findings to the client.

Research: Smallholders' Adoption of Conservation Agriculture
(LSE MSc Dissertation, Malawi) - MSc Researcher
Description: Jessica conducted primary research in Malawi on conservation agriculture adoption among smallholder farmers, at the invitation of the agronomic NGO TotalLand Care (TLC). Her findings were presented to TLC for use in their programming decisions. A peer-reviewed version of this paper is to be published in Summer 2014 by the Centre for Agriculture Bioscience International (CABI).

Activities: Jessica designed a semi-structured questionnaire and conducted interviews with 24 smallholder farmers in 3 different agro-ecological zones around the country. She analysed responses to draw several statistically significant conclusions about the risk factors affecting these farmers' adoption decisions.


  • C-M-O’n and QuIP with us! Innovative methods for understanding change in complex systems (2019)
    UK Evaluation Society Conference
    Edward Hedley, Jessica Rust-Smith and Fabiola Lopez-Gomez

  • The results achieved by programmes using a market systems approach (2017)
    BEAM Exchange
    Robinson, J., Rust-Smith, J.

  • Risk as a Determinant of Adoption of Conservation Agriculture by Smallholder Farmers in Malawi, in Conservation Agriculture in Subsistence Farming: Case Studies from South Asia and Beyond (2015)
    Centre for Agriculture Bioscience International
    Rust-Smith, J, C. Chan-Halbrendt and J. Fantle-Lepczyk Eds