Can market-based solutions overcome extreme poverty & marginalisation?

Published on 13 January 2016

Philip Reed

Research Officer

Despite substantial global progress on human development since 1990, the world’s poorest have seen little change in their income and continue to experience multiple and intersecting inequalities. Can market-based solutions contribute to ensuring that no one is “left behind”, as envisaged by the Sustainable Development Goals?  A new IDS project is looking for your stories.

Since 1990, substantial global progress has been made on a wide range of human development indicators.

However, those at the bottom have not seen the levels of progress experienced by others. Between 1988 and 2008 individuals within the bottom 5% income distribution (PDF) saw no increase in their incomes. They are disproportionately composed of groups who experience multiple and intersecting inequalities (PDF), such as the young, the elderly, those with disabilities, women as well as ethnic or religious minorities.

During the same period, interventions that attempt to make markets operate better for the poorest have gained traction.

Even the UN has increasingly stressed the importance of the role that business has to play in helping to meet the recently unveiled Sustainable Development Goals, and also to ensure the most disempowered communities share in joint progress and prosperity.

Yet the pathways or processes through which this is to be accomplished are unclear.

Can enterprise- and market-based solutions overcome extreme poverty and exclusion?

This question is being investigated by a new ADD, the Coady Institute and IDS project, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

As part of this research, we are looking for examples where market-based solutions show promise in improving the lives of extremely poor populations – and we need your help!

We are looking for case studies which have two essential criteria:

  1. The project or approaches involve a market-based solution
  2. The project must have reached or shown promise to reach extremely marginalised communities.

As we are looking for ‘promising’ examples, we do not expect cases with clear evidence of positive impact. However, some indication of the pathways through which these groups benefit and the conditions that enable them to do so would be desirable.

We are also interested in what hasn’t worked, and the learning that has been taken from this experience.

Invitation to submit examples of market based solutions to benefit extremely marginalised groups

We are inviting you, whether you are an individual or an organisations with promising examples, to share initial information about their case studies online or by emailing me directly.I can also be able to provide further information if needed or you can download more detail (PDF).

We will shortlist examples based on fit with the research focus, the innovation in the approach, and the diversity of examples.

Verified cases will be given profile through inclusion in the final project report, with recommendations for how similar approaches could be rolled out more widely to eradicate poverty amongst the poorest communities, and in related project communications.

Making sure “no one is left behind”

Last year, the discussion around making sure “no one is left behind” from development progress became a chorus of voices, reaching their crescendo in September with the arrival of the Sustainable Development Goals, also referred to as Global Goals.

The resolution passed by the United Nations mentions this phrase no less than five times!

However, it is clear that these ambitious objectives cannot be reached without business playing its role.

With your help, this research will help to clarify how businesses can maximise its impact through market based approaches to reach the most marginalised communities.


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