The Springfield Centre has been an innovator in international development for three decades. Our founders – Alan Gibson and Mark Havers – recognised the vital role business has to play in increasing prosperity, before it became the fashionable trend. Most importantly, Mark and Alan seeded an ethos of sustainability, innovation and rigour that continues to this day.
Springfield has always aimed to influence development policy and practice, driven by frustration that development’s impact is often short-lived and limited in scale, and an ambition for our ‘industry’ to do better. We played a leading role in developing and documenting what is now referred to as the market systems development (MSD) approach – or ‘making markets work for the poor’. This approach has been central to the pursuit of more inclusive, sustainable and scalable outcomes.
Expanding from our formative work in private sector, financial sector and agricultural sector development, Springfield has taken MSD to new frontiers: education, health, water, sanitation, sustainable energy, urban environment, and emergency and relief situations. Our experience spans Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Latin America. We strive to marry a commitment to sustainable development objectives with an analytical understanding of specific contexts, and tempered by operational pragmatism – the art of the feasible.
We are not rocket scientists. We just cling to some basic tenets of good development: use the limited time, resources and influence that we have to stimulate lasting changes that benefit as many disadvantaged people as possible.
The Springfield Centre and Swisscontact
In June 2019, Springfield joined forces with Swisscontact, an independent foundation founded in 1959. Swisscontact promotes economic, social and ecological development by giving people the opportunity to improve their living conditions on their own. In its project work, Swisscontact facilitates access to vocational training, promotes local entrepreneurship, creates access to local financial services and supports the efficient use of resources with the aim of effectively promoting income and employment.
For nearly two decades, SFC and SC have worked together as partners in various projects around the world. Most significantly, our two organisations pioneered new market development approaches, financed by the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and UK Aid, called Market Systems Development (MSD) for the Poor. These approaches have shaped systemic thinking in development around the globe and have since been adopted by many agencies.