Making markets empower the poor
Programme perspectives on using markets toempower women and men living in poverty
Erinch Sahan (Oxfam GB) and Julia Fischer-Mackey (Oxfam America)
7 November 2011
Market-based development programmes can help people living in povertybenefit from markets and lift themselves out of poverty. However, manysuch approaches do not pay attention to power imbalances that perpetuatemarginalisation and poverty. To reach their fullest potential, market-based programmes should actively strengthen the power of marginalisedsmallholders and women. Major events in the market system, induced bychanges in policy, regulation, social movements or business models can provide opportunities to intervene and rebalance power. Market-based programmes should also be complemented by non-market interventions thataddress poverty and sustainability issues in household and environmentalsystems. Through its work, Oxfam has encountered some of the challengesand limitations of market-based approaches. This paper is intended to raisethese challenges with the broader community of development practitionersemploying market-based approaches and share approaches Oxfam has takento addressing them. The most conspicuous of these challenges is a need toaddress power imbalances between smallholders and larger businesses, aswell as between women and men.
Oxfam Discussion Papers