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By Joe Huxley

In June 2015, FSD Africa embarked on an ambitious exercise – to examine the ‘art of financial market facilitation’ in greater focus.

Today, the ‘market facilitation‘ or ‘making markets work for the poor’ (M4P) approach is a relatively well-understood concept in field of international development delivery. It focuses on harnessing the power of market systems, including their full range of participants – from suppliers and consumers to rule-makers and support services providers – to deliver benefits for poor men and women on a lasting basis. It seeks to achieve and maintain a careful balance between public and private sector interests, between the bottom-line and the bottom of the pyramid.

None the less, evidence from the field about how to apply the market facilitation approach in practice remains fairly limited and is often poorly documented. Despite good examples, there is a general dearth of material that captures: which interventions work, which do not, and why.

It is against this challenge that this case study process emerged – a desire to learn more about the art of market facilitation in action. In response, and in partnership with CGAP, DCED and the FSD Network, FSD Africa commissioned the Springfield Centre to prepare a suite learning case studies.

The seven case study series includes:

FSD Kenya Case Study – a c.45 page, 10-year retrospective of the success and challenges associated with FSD Kenya’s role as a donor-funded trust in the development of inclusive financial markets in Kenya.

FSD Network mini-cases – six short case studies of individual financial sector development projects by FSDs from across the FSD Network including: M-Shwari, SACCOs and Savings Groups (FSD Kenya), the Enterprise Growth Market (FSD Tanzania), FinScope South Africa (FinMark Trust), and Micro-insurance market development in Zambia (FSD Zambia)

The publication of these case studies will be serialised from August 2016. In fact, the first of these seven case studies is now out – ‘FSD Kenya: Ten Years of a Market Systems Approach in the Kenyan Financial Market.’

Taken together, these cases look to provide insights to important unanswered questions, such as: How to balance pressure for short-term results with slow-burn market development activities? What does effective communication and measurement look like, and what can it achieve? What attributes do successful market facilitators possess and how can they be deployed most effectively during the project cycle? How does crowding in and replication take place in practice? How and when do market facilitators look to exit? How is it best to select, engage and work with partners?

We hope that these case studies contribute useful learning to the theorists and practitioners that work in the field of ‘making markets work for the poor’, and beyond. We warmly invite others to use and share them as appropriate.

For FSD Africa, the case study material will be put to immediate use in the FSD Academy M4P course – a five-day training programme for staff from the FSD Network and beyond.

Throughout, this process has benefitted greatly from input by FSD Network staff, as well as colleagues at CGAP – Barbara Scola and Matthew Soursourian, and the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) – Jim Tanburn. However, it should be noted that the views expressed in these case studies are those of the authors – Alan Gibson, David Elliott and Diane Johnson of the Springfield Centre – to whom we are extremely grateful.

We hope that you find them engaging and informative, and that they refine and strengthen our ongoing effort to reduce poverty by making markets work for the poor.

Joe Huxley is the Co-ordinator, Strategic Partnerships & Opportunities – FSD Africa,,,,,,,,