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Maria del Mar Maestre Morales - Research Officer

Business, Markets and the State; Rural Futures
T: +44 (0)1273 915724


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Mar Maestre is an international development researcher and practitioner with a focus on private sector, market systems and development. She has over 10 years of professional experience, which combine an international development profile with investment banking professional experience. Mar works in the Business and Development Centre at IDS and her research focuses on understanding market pathways (such as informal, formal) towards more sustainable and equitable outcomes.

Currently, Mar is researching how different market pathways (defined as a large number of actors interacting with different perspectives and levels of power) drive changes which will have intended and unintended consequences for the communities they interact with. Her current projects are on market systems approaches, food systems and nutrition, women's economic empowerment and unpaid care work, public-private partnerships, social enterprises, and inclusive business.

She uses systems thinking as well as participatory and qualitative methods and has worked in South and East Asia (Philippines, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh) and Sub-Saharan Africa (Tanzania, Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia) among others.

Prior to joining IDS, Mar was the programme and country manager at Fundacion CODESPA, a Spanish NGO in the Philippines for two years. She also worked for four years in the private sector, as associate of Lazard, an international investment bank, advising key European companies on corporate finance transactions.

Follow Mar on Twitter: @mmaestrem

Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) is a five-year, DFID-funded, research programme consortium which aims to produce new evidence and policy insights into different pathways to agricultural commercialisation in Africa and their differential outcomes for local people and economies.

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The kind of challenges that the food and agriculture sector is faced with increasingly asks for approaches that can engage effectively with related complexities. Much is invested in multi-stakeholder platforms as they hold a potential for playing an important role in doing so. However, there is a great need to assess their contribution to inclusive and sustainable development, and to assess what makes for effective platforms.

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The BEAM Exchange is a global knowledge exchange facility for market systems practitioners. It supports development programmes and private sector initiatives that fight poverty by working with businesses, governments and others to transform markets so they work better for poor people.

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There is much we still need to learn about the structure and process of business and the state interactions with regards to specific and general development issues. This project therefore aims to assess the state of play in research on state-business relations in developing countries, and outline a research agenda which builds on this foundation towards better understanding of the role of state-business relations in shaping development outcomes, including but also beyond economic growth.

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Market systems programmes are increasingly recognising the important role that women play in market activity and including women’s economic empowerment and gender equality objectives. However, unpaid care work is a significant and regularly overlooked factor which affects women’s economic, political and social activities.

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This research will identify the key factors driving the effectivness of public-private partnerships (PPPs) at bringing sustained increases in income for smallholder farmers at scale and delivering positive development outcomes across rural communities.

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The objective of the research is to develop capacity and an analytical approach for the analysis of value chains-based initiatives aimed at enhancing access and consumption of nutritious foods by the poor and to use this learning to develop research proposals on leveraging value chains for nutrition.

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To achieve its aim of reducing malnutrition in the countries with the highest burden, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement is supporting the creation of multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) in multiple SUN member countries. The overall objective of this work is to identify and document information on the institutional configurations for MSPs that are most appropriate for achieving national goals on nutrition in different contexts, and develop tools and resources to disseminate best practices for designing MSPs.

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This is the front cover to IDS Bulletin 49.1, 'Value Chains for Nutrition in South Asia:
Who Delivers, How, and to Whom?'

Value Chains for Nutrition in South Asia: Who Delivers, How, and to Whom?

IDS Bulletin 49.1 (2018)

There is currently much talk of the private sector role in nutrition, and whether the state can ‘shape’ the market to deliver better nutritional outcomes. This issue of the IDS Bulletin presents research findings in this area, developed by the consortium of research partners under the Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) programme. More details

Front cover of report Market systems development in the
cities of rapidly urbanising countries

Market Systems Development in the Cities of Rapidly Urbanising Countries

The aim of this paper is to offer guidelines for those in the market systems community interested in working in urban settings, by exploring the key features that makes cities unique and the implications these features have for programmes using a market systems approach. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Assessing Food Value Chain Pathways, Linkages and Impacts for Better Nutrition of Vulnerable Groups

Food Policy 68 (2017)

This article offers insights into assessing the effectiveness of post farm-gate agri-food value chains at improving the nutrition intake of vulnerable groups. It develops a conceptual framework integrating the value chain concepts with agriculture and nutrition, and identifies key outcomes and requirements for value chains to be successful at delivering substantive and sustained consumption of nutrient-dense foods by poor households. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Using Systems Thinking to Reach the Poor through Markets

Following the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda of ‘leave no one behind’, this article argues for a new way of thinking about markets andthe private sector that addresses these new challenges. It introduces market systems development (MSD) as a new approach for engaging with the private sector using complexity and systems thinking. By understanding better the role and limits of market-ba More details


State–Business Relations Beyond Growth: Bringing in Development

IDS Evidence Report 215 (2016)

The signatories of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have called on a wide range of businesses ‘to apply their creativity and innovation’ to address sustainable development challenges. Yet the role of business in contributing to development depends profoundly on its interaction with the state. This paper asks how states and businesses interact in different contexts to shape development outcomes. More details

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To fight malnutrition, we need to understand agri-food value chains

07 Feb 2018
By Maria del Mar Maestre Morales

Approaching Markets in Rapidly Growing Cities

20 Jul 2017
By Maria del Mar Maestre Morales, Gordon McGranahan, Eric Kasper

Beyond the paid economy: unpaid care work and women’s empowerment

26 Apr 2017
By Maria del Mar Maestre Morales

What do food systems have to do with urbanisation?

10 Apr 2017
By Maria del Mar Maestre Morales, (incomplete)

Women's economic empowerment – where is unpaid care work?

10 Mar 2016
By Maria del Mar Maestre Morales

The private sector and the Sustainable Development Goals

24 Sep 2015
By Matteo Mancini, Maria del Mar Maestre Morales

Shifting the debate on the role of business and markets in development

13 Jul 2015
By Maria del Mar Maestre Morales

BEAM commissions new research on market system approaches

07 Jul 2015
By Maria del Mar Maestre Morales

Greece, new hope or new risks for Europe?

17 Mar 2015
By Maria del Mar Maestre Morales, (incomplete)

Public Private Partnerships – a recipe for success?

23 Oct 2014
By Maria del Mar Maestre Morales
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