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Sales Agents - Key Players in the Value Chain
The common perception of the sales agent is as a monopolistic buyer who pays the lowest possible price for the produce of the poor and then reaps high margins from the sale of the produce to consumers or other commercial actors. This idea has been supported by fair trade organizations and NGOs that consequently program to circumvent the middleman to offer increased profits to poor producers.
While it is indeed often the case that middlemen are in a position to exploit poor producers, MEDA suggests that rather than eliminating the sales agent, there is value in working with them and fostering their key role within a value chain. Sales agents not only create valuable linkages to markets, but they can also be important agents of growth and empowerment through the provision of embedded services and increased information flows.
This paper is also available online at the BEAM Exchange
This paper highlights the paradigm shift that must take place in order for market systems initiatives to fully embed women's empowerment and to create sustainable and equitable systems change.
Since its publication in early 2012, the original M4P WEE Framework has been adopted by programmes around the world and led to dialogue on how to prioritise and operationlise women's economic empowerment within M4P initiatives. However, much has changed in market systems programming, women's empowerment thinking and the larger development field. This report makes the case for a new framework and the paradigm shift that needs to take place in order for women’s empowerment to be mainstreamed into market systems development.
The report is structured in three chapters that can be used together or referenced separately:
Tagged in UNHLP
MEDA submission to UN Women Consultation ( UNHLP )(June 6, 2016, Robertson Room, Global Affairs Canada)
What would you recommend as a priority action for promoting women’s economic empowerment?
Who should be held responsible for these actions?
This publication was produced for review by the United States Agency for International Development. It was prepared by Erin Markel of MarketShare Associates and Rachel Hess and Helen Loftin of MEDA for ACDI/VOCA with funding from USAID/E3's Leveraging Economic Opportunities (LEO) project.
The paper is based on extensive research and interviews and provides the rationale that market systems facilitation practitioners can use to engage private sector firms in efforts to empower women. From identifying partners to articulating the mutually beneficial value of women's inclusion, the paper offers guidance and real-world examples to help companies empower women working at every level of the economy. It includes strategies to increase the bottom line for a wide spectrum of businesses, from multinational corporations to medium-sized firms and microenterprises in developing countries.
Linda Jones, Alexandra Snelgrove and Pamela Muckosy. (2006) International Journal of Emerging Markets. Emerald Insight Publishing. Vol. 1, Issue 4.
It has been repeatedly demonstrated that the promotion of gender equality and the deployment of female human capital increases a country's prosperity. Women often become stakeholders in private sector development through involvement in micro and small enterprises (MSEs) – either as owners or employees. This is especially true in situations where employment opportunities are limited by geography, socio-cultural norms, and underdeveloped public and private sectors. Once women have gained experience in a microenterprise, they have expanded potential to contribute to the advancement of commerce and trade. The obstacles lie, not in understanding this concept, but in designing and implementing programs that overcome the challenges confronting disadvantaged women who are attempting to build businesses and participate in viable industries.
This paper draws on MEDA’s fifty-year history in private sector development to provide evidence that, with modest investments and good program design, even highly marginalized women can become active economic players. The first section briefly examines the concept that, with appropriate support for the small business sector, women contribute to growth in emerging markets; the middle section presents a series of case studies from MEDA’s portfolio of value chain development and microfinance projects to both illustrate the concept and to offer lessons learned regarding successful programming; the final section concludes with remarks regarding the mobilization of women’s unused capacity in the pursuit of economic prosperity in emerging markets.