These videos were created for a new CGAP training course to help explain different aspects of understanding systemic change programmes and helping to manage them.

A market is where supply and demand meet; a transaction. The supporting functions and rules are what determine the price, quality, or quantity of that transaction. Sometimes, that transaction doesn’t work very well from the perspective one group – most commonly in development that’s poor and disadvantaged people. The system – comprised of a transaction, supporting functions, and rules – is not working, and for this to improve, we need systemic change. That’s not change for some programme partners or end users for a short amount of time while they’re receiving aid support. This is change that leads to sustainable and large scale impacts.

The Adopt-Adapt-Expand-Respond framework helps to unpack how that might happen. Innovations – changes in the way one or more functions or rules work – are adopted. As with any innovation, this will likely start small, with a small number of actors changing their behaviour. The objective here is to determine whether the innovation actually generates impact. For example, in finance, a programme might have partnered with a research company to collect and sell data on the needs and preferences of an excluded group to financial service providers. At this stage, the cost of conducting the research is being shared with the programme but the objective is to see whether financial service providers are willing to buy the data and whether it subsequently results in the intended impact; increasing the uptake and use of financial products by excluded communities.

Adapt entails assessing whether the model works without external support and whether it becomes institutionalised by the players involved. Do financial service providers allocate budgets to this annually? Does the research firm make it a core part of their business model?

Expand involves increasing either the level of benefit from the innovation or the number of people benefitting. It might happen organically or it might require further development intervention. Are new research firms offering competing services? Are existing research firms offering the services in new geographies? Are increasing number of financial service providers looking to buy these services? If not, there may be an opportunity for further intervention to nudge this in the right direction.

Respond involves other supporting functions and rules, and the actors involved in delivering them, changing their behaviour in response to the innovation. Here, you might look at legislative changes to make data sharing amongst banks easier. Or it might be that the skills development of research is improved by companies offering training courses on conducting research in low income communities.

Systemic change involves all of these components. It’s a dynamic process and it’s more of a planning and stocktake than it is a tick box to say yes or no.

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