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This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Enabling Environment for Markets Resource Roundup: Highlights from Marketlinks and the BEAM Exchange

The enabling environment for agricultural market systems month on Agrilinks wouldn’t be complete without drawing our community’s attention to the resources of our partner site Marketlinks as well as those available on the BEAM Exchange.

As the home for market-based solutions for development, Marketlinks hosts market development, economic growth, and cross-cutting issues resources, including the renowned Value Chain Wiki. A UK-based organization, the BEAM Exchange is a specialist platform for knowledge exchange and learning about using market systems approaches to reduce poverty. While these platforms focus on market systems approaches and practices beyond agriculture and food security, many of the resources and learnings noted below do address these sectors and offer highly relevant tools and learnings in areas. This is particularly true in dimensions related to gender and social norms.

We have highlighted key resources below from both Marketlinks and the BEAM Exchange. We hope you enjoy diving in!


Value Chain Wiki — Business Enabling Environment (Overview)

This Value Chain Wiki page explores the business enabling environment, which includes norms and customs, laws, regulations, policies, international trade agreements and public infrastructure that either facilitate or hinder the movement of a product or service along its value chain.

Value Chain Wiki — Informal Regulation

Market systems enterprises and other firms operate within a business environment that imposes both formal and informal rules. This section of the Value Chain Wiki considers the informal dimension: the norms, customs and codes of conduct that affect people’s attitudes, behaviors and access to resources and markets — and which are not captured by specific formal laws, regulations or contracts.

Women's Wage Employment in Developing Countries: Regulatory Barriers and Opportunities

This highly relevant, just released report examines how laws and regulations in developing and transitional countries limit or enable women to enter, remain and advance in the formal sector workforce. It features analysis of how gender inequalities in civil and administrative laws, regulatory employment restrictions, occupational licenses, employment discrimination and sexual harassment limit women’s abilities to engage in wage employment. It also analyzes how laws and policies can support working women and working parents in not only remaining but also thriving in the workplace.

How Do We Encourage Innovation in Markets?

Working within a market system means thinking more about how to boost the system as an enabling environment rather than viewing it as a static series of problems that need fixing. It also means studying the history of any given market system, which is essential to dig into the path that has brought it to its current state and the influence that is likely to have on any attempt to change it.

Using a Systems Lens to Innovate Past Post-Harvest Food Loss

To understand innovations’ potential, we must understand how each innovation fits within this broader context, or system. For value chains in which post-harvest loss occurs, the system is composed of producers, processors, packagers, distributors, retailers, consumers and any number of middlemen acting to get food from farms to markets. These many actors also depend on infrastructure such as energy grids, roads and bridges, and other enabling environment factors (e.g., ease of doing business, cultural norms and food safety standards). To truly evaluate innovation potential, we have to consider the full composite of these systemic factors.

BEAM Exchange

The Social Norms Factor: How Gendered Social Norms Influence How We Empower Women in Market Systems Development

This research explores how social norms influence women’s access and agency as well as practical lessons learned. It builds on the recognition that informal social “rules” within markets and households can dramatically affect the results of market systems programs aiming to empower women. The report documents how social norms are currently understood, assessed and navigated in market systems programs via two in-depth cases and seven mini-cases that provide additional insight and examples.

Webinar: Beyond Gendered Social Norms

This webinar explores the influence of informal norms (beyond gender norms) on market system dynamics and market actor behaviors. Examples include institutional biases and norms for conducting business. Highlighting recent research from the Leveraging Economic Opportunities activity, the presenters shared new understanding of how to define and identify norms as well as examples that can help practitioners understand how institutional biases shape business, market trajectories and change. Examples from USAID’s Agricultural Value Chains project in Bangladesh are explored.

Social Norms in Market Systems Development

This research brief outlines key ideas from social norms theory and explores implications for research and implementation by market systems development programs. It aims to help program teams grasp the social norms at play in their current situation, so they can factor them into intervention design and iteration by monitoring the impacts of their interventions.

Market Systems Approaches and Informal Norms in the Context of Bangladesh

Markets are complex social systems in which market actors share a set of biases based on a multi-layered network of structures, rules and norms. In the context of Bangladesh, two of the most influential informal norms are family loyalty and social hierarchy, and these norms permeate many layers of social interaction and structure, including market systems and businesses.

To keep up with the latest in market systems approaches and their interplay with the enabling environment, join and follow the Marketlinks and BEAM Exchange communities!