By Samuel Kibicho
Transforming market systems is a complex task. To make a market more competitive, inclusive and efficient involves dealing with great challenges cutting across value chains and amongst different players. These hurdles include; low quality and low volume production, expensive or unavailable inputs, lack of access to information and right products and services, fragmented players and prohibitive policies among other obstacles. While these market inefficiencies make transformation challenging, it does not render it impossible.
This article proposes three thoughts on how stakeholders can work seamlessly in a win-win approach to cause market transformation in spite of the odds.
1. Marketing the transformation agenda
First thought relates to marketing appealing transformation agenda to partners involved. Transformation is about viable business models and ideas that matter. This change has to be scalable, acceptable, sustainable and beneficial unlike handouts and short-term interventions in the past. The new change must influence the quality of life while preserving and enhancing the dignity of all the stakeholders.
To sell this agenda, our language in on how to enable governments to offer public goods more efficiently in an inclusive and affordable way while reaching the widest outreach. It is about more economic profits, growth and survival for private sectors partners since it is the language they understand best. At the same time, the above propositions must guarantee and demonstrate improved livelihoods for the target beneficiaries both socially and economically. This benefit based approach propositions will make markets better as envisioned. Selling the right agenda will enable governments to invest in areas that matter in an accountable way. Private sector will be ensured of higher returns on investments long to the foreseeable future. The poor will be wealthier and healthier. Better markets benefits will trickle down to make lives better for all.
2. Generating evidence and collaborating
Second proposal relates to evidence and collaboration. In this information age, data and information is the new soil to grow future inventions and build relationships. However, it is ironical in this era of information overload and saturation, lack of information and clarity is one of major market imperfections in this country. Sharing of right information among stakeholders would reduce duplicity of efforts, improve coordination and reduce unnecessary costs. The overall effect of this would be more efficient and insightful market operations.
There exists a large information that does not trickle down to those who need it most. While the research institutes for instance has information on modern technology on how to fight diseases and pests, farmers are still practicing outdated agriculture. Proper linkages among peers and for people in different levels of value chain will benefit further. Farmers associations and Research consortiums are examples of how this would be facilitated. At peer level, a researcher would avoid concentrating in a field already capitalized on. Farmer associations would facilitate benchmarking and exchange programs for individual and overall benefits. They would have evidence on bargaining tables and shift markets. It is through evidence and linkages that we can overcome the challenge of market fragmentation.
The final thought is on benchmarking and exchange programs. More often than not “seeing is believing” hence a need for more virtual and real exchange programs between and among players. This would aid various market participants to initiate and conclude the relevant discussions based on best practice. Those interactions not only marry expectations of both parties involved but also serves as practical example unlike a far-fetched theoretical narrative. It’s through Exchange programs among peers that crowding in of innovations is achievable. Its application of an idea with a reference point of “I can also do it as so and so did it” that makes a change viral and thus systemic.
In my opinion, making market transformation discussions more benefit based, sharing of market information and intelligence and strategic partnering as well as benchmarking and exchange programs are critical in making markets better. When we anticipate a direct personal evidence that is backed by theoretical and practical evidence can we respond to the market imperfections.
Samuel Kibicho is a Trailblazer at Kenya Markets Trust. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org