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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.