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The business of impact

Market engagement unleashes multi-faceted benefits.


iDE has been building markets for over 30 years. One thing we know for sure is that every market is different. Replicating what works in one context is not a guarantee of success in another. We replicate our approach, and each context dictates a unique solution.

To identify why a market is inefficient, or broken, requires a deep and broad market analysis process. By listening to every stakeholder—the suppliers, producers, retailers, end users, and others who might have an influence on the end customer—we create a holistic understanding of the links on the value chain and the roles of each market player. Then we develop business solutions that make new connections and strengthen existing connections to achieve a more robust market ecosystem.

High-value crops, such as the peppers these women are selling at a market in Burkina Faso, increase farmers’ potential to grow their income. Farmers need market information about what buyers want and how much they are willing to pay for certain crops, as well as access to seeds and knowledge about planting techniques in order to take advantage of these new value chains.

iDE PC Market Engagement Extended Caption

iDE has refined several market engagement strategies that can be adapted to the local environment: private sector engagement, market facilitation, value chain development, and social enterprise creation.

Private Sector Engagement

We engage the private sector by building a strong business case for marketing to the poor. Many private enterprises do not market to rural, poor households due to perceived risks in transportation logistics, economies of scale, or lack of interest. By resolving those misperceptions and demonstrating how the private sector can benefit from sales to rural households, rural, poor consumers can obtain the items they desire and need, from agricultural inputs to better sanitation options.

Discover how we’re improving sanitation in Bangladesh by partnering with RFL Plastics.

Market Facilitation

In some cases, local entrepreneurs need help in designing and executing business strategies. When we enhance these businesses through market facilitation (e.g., creating marketing plans, connecting producers and distributors, etc.), our goal is to keep the market from being dependent on our presence, making sure we are able to step out as the natural relationships between market players strengthens.

Learn how farmers, dealers, and suppliers are exchanging information and technology in Zambia through iDE’s market facilitation.

Farmers in Bangladesh benefit when they have more information about market openings and prices. New practices such as organic farming certifications and strategic crop planting to meet off-season market demands help them fill specialized niches in the markets.

iDE PC Bangladesh Market

Value Chain Development

As objective outsiders, we are able to look at the entire value chain and identify areas that can be improved. Value chain development includes options such as encouraging certification that reduces perceptions of risk, strengthening bargaining power for disadvantaged market players, and educating small entrepreneurs on the value of diversifying their business strategy.

Read about coffee farmers who are profiting from global coffee markets.

Social Enterprise Creation

When necessary, iDE creates a new financially viable enterprise that is dedicated to clear social, environmental, and poverty reduction goals. These social enterprises often need partners to kickstart them, as market entry costs can be substantial, but every one has a business plan in which financial self-sufficiency is an attainable goal.

Read about the impact of our clean water social enterprise, and our drip irrigation social enterprise.

Market engagement requires a spectrum of approaches. At iDE, we don’t limit ourselves to definitions, but analyze the market to identify whatever is necessary to best accomplish our goal of increasing incomes and improving livelihoods for the world’s poorest populations.

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Designing to context

If you want to solve the world’s problems, you have to be where the action is—and every location is different.


Read more: Thinking outside of the tomato box in Zambia