Understanding the unique challenges of commissioning and managing market systems programmes from a funder's perspective is a key competence of the Agora team, many of whom have direct experience as funders. This course introduces key concepts at a high level, but instead of focusing on operational detail, it focused on the specific tasks and challenges faced by funders.

Systemic approaches for funders

Systemic Approaches for Funders

Summary: A systemic approach to development is increasingly recognised as a strategy to address the challenges of sustainability and  scale of impact faced by development interventions. Adopting this  approach implies a change in mind set, intervention design, and  management for implementers of programmes. However, it also has  significant implications for how budgets are allocated, programmes are designed and tendered, how results are measured, and performance is managed. Funders have a critical role in the success of a programme  and this course helps them to play this role in the most effective way possible.

Content: The course doesn't expect that one week will make you a world leader in market systems theory, design interventions, or create monitoring systems. Instead, this course aims to equip you with the tools you need to be a better funder. While a detailed curriculum will be provided to successful applicants, the course covers the following modules:

  • Rationale and principles of the systemic approach including key frameworks.

  • Determining programme parameters

  • Deciding on programme structure - phases, length, and budgets

  • The role of different instruments  

  • Structures and strategies for implementation - NGOs, Contractors, Evaluators

  • Appraising implementers and proposals

  • Supplier economics – under the hood of implementers to know what’s realistic and fair.

  • What to expect - budgets, results, programme outputs

  • The funders' role - engagement with stakeholders in every phase of the programme

  • Managing performance - expectations, results frameworks, and performance milestones

  • Reporting and knowledge capture

  • Communicating with different audiences

  • A troubleshooting clinic


Who is the course for: As the title suggests, this course is for funders in the broadest sense. This could be bilateral donors, foundations, multilaterals, impact investors, or NGOs with funds at their disposal. Within those organisations, it would be most appropriate for people with an interest in a systemic approach or market systems development, currently managing MSD programmes, or those with an interest in doing so.

Trainers and approach: The trainers bring with them decades of experience in market systems development, as trainers, implementers, evaluators and as donors. Our training team will bring first hand experience of the challenges of adopting this approach as a funder and how they overcame them. In our experience, neither a generic intensive training session nor a detached online offering have delivered the improvements we hope for from capacity building as such we offer:

  • Tailored curriculum around your job function making sure that, when you return from the training, you have a good idea of the practical steps you can take to improve what you do.

  • Free dedicated follow-up support will be offered to all participants. Building on the relationships developed on the course, we will engage with participants in the months following the course to ensure that they are able to operationalise the learning.

Email training@agoraglobal.org to find out more information about the upcoming course dates

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