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A message from Springfield

We hope this finds you safe and well in these unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of how interconnected our world can be, but also of how rapidly societies can turn inwards in times of crisis. As countries strive to slow the spread of the virus and cope with the strain on health services, the full extent of the economic disruption is only starting to become clear. Millions of people are likely to drop back into or move more deeply into poverty. In SE Asia alone it is estimated that 11m people will fall below the poverty line. Crops are left to rot, fish catches dumped because supply chains are disrupted and demand is collapsing. Urban workers are losing jobs because factory orders are evaporating, small businesses are not getting paid and their supplier credit is drying up. The economic contraction will reduce many governments' ability to support those worst affected and will directly impact poor peoples' ability to take care of their health and environment. Difficult times lie ahead.
 
But crises also breed opportunities: supply chains fragment and consumer demand becomes more localised, creating opportunities for small farmers and businesses; powerful incumbents are challenged by new technologies and practices; entrenched positions are scrutinised and people become more receptive to reform. At a time when the inclination is to hunker down and wait for it all to go away, it is vital that we take a fresh and realistic look at the systems in which the poor exist. Not to panic, but think pragmatically how we can meet the challenge head on, to enable people to cope with the short term distress but - just as importantly - prepare them for market recovery and new opportunities.

Our next training programme

Unfortunately our April training programme had to be postponed due to the impact of COVID-19. However new dates have been confirmed. The next programme will be held in Thailand from 15th to 27th November 2020.

Applications will open soon for the final remaining places, so if you're interested in joining us, save the dates in your diary and we hope to see you in Bangkok.

Work for a donor?

Interested in learning more about improving the scale and sustainability of your impact?

Before we locked down in March, Springfield delivered a three day introduction to market systems development (MSD) for DFID staff interested in learning more about the approach and the implications for a funder. The short introductory event included the basic MSD principles, examples of good practice, and bespoke discussion sessions along the donor project management cycle. Over the years, Springfield has provided similar trainings for other bilateral donors and foundations and we are planning to launch another course specifically for funders in late 2020.

If you'd like more information, please get in touch. 

Find out more

Systems under pressure in Lebanon

Springfield has been supporting the ILO team in Lebanon to identify and analyse job and income opportunities for Syrian refugees and their host Lebanese communities. As the crisis continues and Lebanon’s economy struggles, the need for stable income opportunities for the most vulnerable in both refugee and host communities is paramount both for economic survival as well as social cohesion. With Springfield support, the greenhouse horticulture sector has been identified as a potential driver of decent rural jobs and secure income and a market analysis completed setting out initial intervention options for ILO investment.

 

A pragmatic approach to assessing system change

Few topics inspire as much confusion and debate as systemic change. What is it? How do you measure it? Does it even matter?

Springfield's very own Dr Rachel Shah will be joining Aly Miehlbradt, Hans Posthumus and Adam Kessler to host a BEAM Exchange webinar on a back-to-basics approach to assessing system change.


You can find out more and register here.

 

 

Responding to the COVID-19 crisis 

Programmes we work with such as PRISMA and MDF are gathering intelligence from market actors and their representatives, to provide insights about the real-world disruptions caused by COVID-19 and its countermeasures, to guide decision makers and better target temporary business support measures. Interventions are being adapted or developed to support private sector and local government partners, including:

• Helping logistics-based businesses engage with governments to loosen movement restrictions, in order to keep essential supply chains running

• Working with the media and ICT sector and with social media influencers to support information and behaviour change campaigns; to enable traders and farmers to overcome social distancing restrictions; and to allow businesses to access information and assistance to cope with the crisis.

• Assisting SMEs to adopt e-commerce facilities - through IT-platform providers such a telcos, call centres and fintech firms - that will facilitate transactions during extended lock down periods.

• Supporting processors and manufacturers to switch to the production of masks and sanitisers; to pivot from export markets to local markets; or provide liquidity support in value chains, e.g. through loan guarantees and warehouse receipt mechanisms.

Unpicking system change

A recently published paper - The antidote to systemic change frameworks: six practical steps to assess systemic change (and improve your strategy) – claims to offer systemic change programs a straightforward way to assess systemic change using just six steps. If you saw this, you might have thought “Great! That’s exactly what we need!” But for those of you who are MSD practitioners and dug into it a little deeper, you might have find yourself with some lingering questions. The guidance presented in this paper seems to overlap with MSD guidance closely, and yet it doesn’t refer much to MSD frameworks and tools, or speak in MSD language – so do they fit together? Can you use the measurement tools presented if you’re following MSD principles? Can you apply the guidance if you’re working in an MSD programme?

The answer is yes and this short (35 mins) training video explains how. We hope it’s helpful – let us know what you think!

Papers referred to in the paper are linked below:

The antidote to systemic change paper
The Operational Guide for the Making Markets Work for the Poor Approach
Unpacking Incentives and Capacities
Unpicking system change

Beware the 'SystemsSplainer'

We’re all familiar with the term mansplaining. We’ve either done it, had it done to us, or been wrongly accused of doing it. But is there an emerging group of “SystemsSplainers”?

If explaining things condescendingly isn’t the business you’re in, you might find yourselves as frustrated as we are at the proliferation of explanations about systems that don’t lead to clarity or better action. These are the hallmarks of what we increasingly recognise as quintessential SystemsSplaining.

Read more about how to avoid the 'Splainers here.

What have we been doing recently?


A snapshot of the work we have been involved in over the past few months.

And finally...

We’re delighted to announce that Roger Oakeley has joined the Springfield Board as a Director. He will also take on the role of Head of Advisory Services. We’re sure his commitment and experience will be a positive force in taking Springfield forward.  

Best wishes,

The Springfield Team
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