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Middlemen as Agents of Change: MEDA and ECDI in Pakistan

Middlemen as Agents of Change: MEDA and ECDI in Pakistan

Linda Jones, MEDA, and Perveen Shaikh, ECDI. Learning Paper, (June 2005) PLP Learning Paper, The SEEP Network.

Middlemen are not often seen as agents of change. After all, middlemen have come to be regarded as an exploitative force in the lives of poor producers, controlling production, paying unfair prices for labor or goods, and participating in fraudulent practices to maximize their own gains. This learning paper describes an alternative perspective that The Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) and the Enterprise and Career Development Institute (ECDI) in Pakistan have developed based on their work with poor women microentrepreneurs. The paper posits that that middlemen provide an essential service and have the potential to become active contributors to the development of more equitable value chains; MEDA and ECDI’s work has led them to see middlemen as often an essential component of a dynamic value chain who provide the critical link to markets and market information that can lift disadvantaged rural producers out of poverty.