We’re pleased to announce the launch of a brand new publication, inspired by Springfield founder, Alan Gibson. Written by Joanna Ledgerwood and featuring contributions from Springfield members past and present and others in the field, this book is a must read for those in development.

“The M4P approach [Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) – also known as Market Systems Development (MSD)] recognises that the lives of the poor are inextricably linked to the functioning of the systems around them. Too often, poorly functioning market systems — uncompetitive and unresponsive to producer, worker and consumer needs — have a disproportionately negative impact upon the poor, who lack the resources to overcome such dysfunctions. The M4P approach fosters understanding of the functions and players within market systems and how these can be strengthened in order to better serve the needs of the poor. The approach intervenes at critical constraints in the market system, building capacity within to enable key players to work more effectively for the benefit of the poor.”
Gibson, FSD Kenya Ten-Year Review 2016

Alan Gibson made a significant contribution to international development through his work at the Springfield Centre in the north-east of England, and was instrumental in developing the Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) approach to private sector development and poverty alleviation. Alan died while hiking a mountain in northern Scotland in February 2018 and is deeply missed. This book describes the M4P approach and shares practical experience from applying it. Contributors also share their reflections on the efficacy of the approach and why challenges exist. All the contributors were inspired in some way by Alan Gibson’s teachings and this book is a way to honour his legacy.

This collection is essential reading for international development practitioners, funders, consultants, academics, and policymakers. It is available from Practical Action Publishing in paperback, hardback and as an open source eBook.

‘Alan’s work was transformational. [He encouraged thinking about] dynamic relationships between many actors and many processes in an ever-changing system of people, policies and institutions. He made an enormous contribution.'

Kim Wilson, Tufts University

‘The collection of essays captures Alan’s passion and drive and also illustrates his lasting and dynamic legacy across multiple fields within international development. Essential reading for anyone interested in market systems approaches.’

Adrian Stone, Investment Climate Team, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

‘For those of us in the market systems development trenches, reading this book is almost as good as having a drink with Alan to debate the best ways to facilitate the evolution of markets that actually work for those living in poverty. From FSD Kenya’s perspective, we have learned so much from Alan’s prescient insights, many of which are highlighted throughout the chapters in this riveting book.’

Tamara Cook, CEO, FSD Kenya

'This book is much more than a testament to the influence which Alan Gibson had on many people's thinking and lives. It is also a testament to the enduring relevance of market system development thinking. By providing a compendium of updates from those at the far flung frontiers of this field, the book should encourage current practitioners and inspire future ones.'

David Porteous, Chair, BFAGlobal and Digital Frontiers

‘For anyone troubled by the difficulty of translating M4P theory to practice, this book is a must-read. It validates that challenge while making the approach more tangible by orienting the reader to its key elements such as identifying market actors with the incentives and/or capacity to assume functions and roles that will improve markets for the poor. It presents a collection of experience lived by professionals who confirm that successful M4P is, by definition, ever (art) work in progress.’

Candace Nelson, Author and Editor, Savings Groups at the Frontier and The New Microfinance Handbook

'What mattered to Alan was not branding but to keep the ambition in development, striving to do the best possible job with the available resources, and to not accept the status quo. Alan concerned himself always with the quality of our efforts to contribute to a more equitable world. He pushed us not to shy away from the deep, iterative analysis of the reality of complex systems and the more difficult questions about our role as development actors. Despite the multiple interpretations of what ‘market systems development’ may mean, it is clear that our collective efforts have improved thanks to Alan’s ability to share his great mind.'

Diane Johnson, Independent Consultant and former Springfield Associate

'Market systems development remains as relevant to today’s challenges as it was more than twenty years ago when Alan Gibson and others pioneered the approach. As Jim Tomecko observes in one piece in this collection, it is fundamentally ‘just good development’. But it is no easier for that. This volume offers an eclectic set of insights and reflections on the practical application of market systems development from some of the many around the world who were inspired by Alan. It provides an invaluable addition to the literature on the praxis of making markets work for the poor and offers much for newcomers to the field and seasoned practitioners alike.'

David Ferrand, Consultant

'Good market systems work is significantly more challenging than more traditional approaches to development. It requires a deeper analysis of root causes, a more humble and limited role for external development agents, and a greater understanding of and comfort with markets. In his pioneering and leadership role, Alan Gibson continually challenged all of us in our thinking and practice of market systems development. This books makes an important contribution to this ongoing learning and practice.'

Chris Eaton, Executive Director, World University Service of Canada

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