Yes Richard - trust is not something that we as an external, temporary agent can 'deliver' but what we can do is provide facilitation services that will create the conditions for trust to emerge. Within a specific situation there may be many reasons why trust has been undermined or not emerged. Those working in out-growing schemes know this very well and have spent time looking at why smallholders often engage in side-selling for instance.
Our priority has been to create the spaces and opportunities for the actors themselves to explore why trust is not there and to work out whether they want to do anything about it. So in ground nuts in Bangladesh for instance they found there was misunderstanding about payment terms that was negatively affecting how they viewed each other and their aspirations for a future commercial relationship
Although we're a big fan of systems processes where actors collectively identify and solve problems, to build trust bi-lateral conversations can be necessary. There does seem to be some benefit if those actors are working on this aspect within their understanding of the direction of the broader system i.e. a shared understanding of where they want to get to (high volumes of ground nut sales, better quality, more of certain grades etc)
Richard Gilbert said:
Alison - could you describe some of the ways you build trust between system actors?
Alison Griffith said:
The allure of market systems approaches to development practitioners like Practical Action is the potential to achieve scale - most agencies can see small islands of 'success' in a straight delivery model. A systemic approach opens things up to potentially impact on many more MSEs who rely on those systems. But success (commercial and social) depends on many factors that are outside of our direct control. So that means we have to focus much more on the processes that will build the capacity of system actors to deliver the changes that need to happen. This is not (always) so much of a challenge for bigger players, but if MSEs are to benefit we need to specifically support their engagement.
Investing in trust building has been mentioned elsewhere in this discussion and certainly that's something we've found to be crucial in a range of different contexts. And agree with others about the importance of understanding incentives
Richard Gilbert said:
Thanks for all the great points! Let's move onto the next question:
Q2. What are some of the limitations of current approaches to supporting micro-enterprises in value chains? How can taking a more “market systems” approach deliver greater commercial and social value?