© Helvetas/Fatoumata Diabate

Inclusive Market Systems Development

An approach that acknowledges that development needs time and a deep understanding of social, cultural, political and financial dynamics.
© Helvetas/Fatoumata Diabate

Inclusive Market Systems Approach

Since 2009, Helvetas has been using the Market Systems Development (MSD) approach which is also known as the Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) approach. While derived from the field of private sector development, the MSD approach increasingly serves as a strategic framework for development work in other areas as well, including governance, education, infrastructure, environment, policy and science, etc. Hence, the approach is now also commonly referred to as the ‘inclusive systems approach’. 

Helvetas is recognized as one of the leading institutions in understanding, applying, and promoting the MSD approach for an aligned engagement with the private sector. This is done through promoting changes in the behaviors and capacities of private sector actors, as well as their relationships with each other.

Multi-Stakeholder Approach

Helvetas believes that change is driven through local ownership and initiative of system actors. In our approach, we work not only with the private sector but also with public-sector actors and civil society organizations. We always ask ourselves: who is the best fit to make systems more inclusive? 

Three Core Principles

1. A clear vision for sustainable and scalable change

2. A deep understanding of the market system

3. A pledge to put local partners into the lead (for this, we use a facilitative approach that emphasizes local ownership of change).

Helvetas uses the MSD approach in project implementation in order to reach sustainable impact on scale. In our approach, we use the Adopt-Adapt-Expand-Respond Framework, a tool used to manage and measure systemic change processes better.

In Mozambique, Tanzania, and Benin, we apply the MSD approach to postharvest management and different value chains (e.g. cashew, peanuts). In Nepal, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Guatemala, and Madagascar, the approach is used in various agricultural market sectors, including export value chains such as cocoa and the natural ingredient/bio-trade sector. In the Balkan region (Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania), Helvetas has multiple projects (funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Sida) that are fostering youth employment and applying an MSD approach by focusing on the different dimensions of the labor market.  

Additional Reads

To achieve lasting change that is inclusive and benefits the most, we need to address the relations between actors and provide incentives for behavioral change. While this takes time, it promotes changes from within the system, increasing the long term impact of the projects and conferring sustainability to the interventions. 

Our colleague Zenebe Uraguchi presents an interesting insight into MSD through this blog.

Also take a look at our publication on applying a systemic response during COVID-19. 

Helvetas has a number of interesting projects that apply the MSD approach, take a look at some of them below: 

Postharvest management project in Africa


Helvetas has developed its own training courses on MSD that lead through all the modules of the revised MSD operational guide. Furthermore, some of these trainings have been tailored towards employment-related topics (such as labor market systems development for youth employment).

The courses have been offered both to our project staff and external clients and audiences. They have been conducted in some 20 countries worldwide. Some of our external audiences have included: USAID Bureau for Food Security, SDC, Sida, IFAD, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and NGOs. 

© Helvetas / Patrick Rohr

Making Markets and Jobs

Multimedia Story: Benin’s Urban Farmers

Find out how growing organic vegetables has changed day-to-day life for the better for many smallholders in Benin.
© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen

Gender and Social Equity

We striving to address unequal power relations and to diminish bias and violence.
© Helvetas / Narendra Shrestha

Private Sector Development

Economic growth does not always benefit the poor and poverty is bad for growth. We need to make a proactive effort to break this vicious cycle.

Meet Our Experts

Senior Advisor Private Sector Development and Inclusive Systems
Senior Advisor Value Chain & Market Development

Selected Projects: Inclusive Market Systems Development

© Fatoumata Diabate
Private Sector Development

Dynamizing Agriculture for the Youth

© Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
Laos Private Sector Development

Good Tea Fetches Good Prices

© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
Nepal Private Sector Development

Riverbed Vegetables

Guatemala Private Sector Development

Women´s Agro-entrepreneurship in the Highlands

© Helvetas
Vietnam Private Sector Development

Fighting Poverty with Responsible Tourism

Vietnam_Biotrade_Woman | © Helvetas
Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar Private Sector Development

Ethical Trade in Botanicals

© Helvetas
Kyrgyzstan Private Sector Development

Creating Jobs to Escape Poverty

© Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
Bosnia-Herzegovina Private Sector Development

Making Markets and Jobs

© Helvetas
Bangladesh Private Sector Development

A healthy diet for women and children

© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
Bolivia Private Sector Development

Cocoa harvesting, protecting forests

Anfanni 2023 | © Simon B. Opladen
Benin Private Sector Development

Encouraging Rural Youth to Become Entrepreneurs

© Helvetas
Tajikistan Climate & Disaster Resilience

For a Self-Determined Life in Dignity

Albania Private Sector Development

Making Markets Work for the Youth

International bloggers visited Kyrgyzstan | © Helvetas
Kyrgyzstan Private Sector Development

Sustainable Winter Tourism Development Project

Vietnam, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, India Partnership & Capacity Development

Value Chain Capacity Building Network

Tanzania Private Sector Development

Climate-Smart Organic Cotton

© Helvetas
India WASH & Water Governance

Fair and Good – for People and Planet

© Helvetas
Vietnam Private Sector Development

Swiss Import Promotion Program

© Helvetas/Singye Wangchuk
Global Private Sector Development

Networking for Employment and Income