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MaFI Report 2013 (Apr-Oct)
 

MaFI Report 2013 (Apr-Oct)

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The purpose of this report is to inform SEEP staff and MaFI members about the progress made and the challenges that emerged during 2013; also about lessons learned by the facilitator and ideas for ...

The purpose of this report is to inform SEEP staff and MaFI members about the progress made and the challenges that emerged during 2013; also about lessons learned by the facilitator and ideas for improvement.

The document has two main sections: the first one describes progress made in different components of the 2013 work plan and the second one describes lessons learned and proposals for improvement.

Summary of areas of progress:

- Back-end maintenance took place as planned and the level, number and quality of discussions on MaFI continue to be high. Members’ feedback continues to be positive.
- Systemic M&E - phase 2: new case study produced with the support of USAID and new opportunities for advocacy created.
- Capacity building of development organizations and practitioners: collaboration with EWB to come up design of concept note to raise funds to develop this component further.
- Creation and strengthening of collaboration and learning networks, with emphasis on local learning groups (LLGs): design of new round of testing and collaboration with the Market Development Forum of Bangladesh.
- Complexity Dialogues: successful test of new format to facilitate these sessions.

Summary of areas for improvement:
- Communication of changes in vision and activities more frequently
- Leverage of SEEP’s resources
- Leverage of MaFI members’ wisdom and experience
- Work to guarantee funds for at least one join-action project per year

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    MaFI Report 2013 (Apr-Oct) MaFI Report 2013 (Apr-Oct) Document Transcript

    • MaFI Report April1-Nov 2013 By Lucho Osorio-Cortes The purpose of this report is to inform SEEP staff and MaFI members about the progress made and the challenges that emerged during 2013; also about lessons learned by the facilitator and ideas for improvement. Thedocument has two main sections: the first one describes progress made in different components of the 2013 work plan and the second one describes lessons learned and proposals for improvement2. Summary of areas of progress: Back-end maintenance took place as planned and the level, number and quality of discussions on MaFI continue to be high. Members’ feedback continues to be positive. Systemic M&E - phase 2: new case study produced with the support of USAID and new opportunities for advocacy created (http://bit.ly/systemandecasekenya) Capacity building of development organizations and practitioners:collaboration with EWB to come up design of concept note to raise funds to develop this component further. Creation and strengthening of collaboration and learning networks, with emphasis on local learning groups (LLGs): design of new round of testing and collaboration with the Market Development Forum of Bangladesh. Complexity Dialogues: successful test of new format to facilitate these sessions. Summary of areas for improvement: Communication of changes in vision and activities more frequently Leverage of SEEP’s resources Leverage of MaFI members’ wisdom and experience Work to guarantee funds for at least one join-action project per year 1. Areas of progress 1.1. Back-end operation and maintenance (Module “Zero” of the Work Plan) This module refers to all the necessary activities that keep MaFI’s basic functions active. In the period covered by this report, back end maintenance took place as planned. For example, approval of new members, influencer of the month award, maintenance of Twitter and Facebook page, promotion of conversations on LinkedIn (e.g. on ITAD report and business models). 1 The contract was signed off and started in that month. This report frequently refers to different modules of the 2013 work plan. You can access this document here: http://bit.ly/mafiworplanshort2013 2 1
    • Online conversations on LinkedIn: Eight online discussions per month were created on average, with only 11% of those created by the facilitator. Top Influencer of the Month: Practical Action Publishing continues to sponsor this award with a voucher of approx. USD50 to the winner to claim development books from its vast catalogue. This award has several purposes: to create incentives for members to post questions and share experiences and to reward the most popular and interesting conversations. “[…] I am really surprised to be selected as MaFI Top Influencer of December 2012. I feel now more confident to share my ideas on market development issues with you all. And this will help me to learn more. […] I am encouraged to participate in market development discussion in future. Thanks” (ATM Anwarul Alam) Social media and outreach: The following numbers show changes in membership to the main platforms that MaFI use to communicate with committed members (on LinkedIn) and followers: Platform LinkedIn (members) Facebook (fans) Twitter (followers) Klout Tweeter score (outreach and influence of MaFI’s Tweeter) Jan 2013 201 120 118 35 Nov 2013 320 229 44 In all fronts, MaFI continues to grow. These numbers are not in themselves enough to measure success but it does give an idea of dynamism and use of these platforms by the facilitator. 1.2. Areas of activity and progress according to the learning agenda The learning agenda of MaFI is broad but the areas of focus proposed for 2013 were: systemic M&E, phase 2 (collection of case studies) capacity building of development organizations and practitioners (to be more effective facilitators) creation and strengthening of collaboration and learning networks, with emphasis on LLGs There was progress in all three areas, in particular in the first one, thanks to the continued support from USAID and the SEEP Network. However, challenges still remain around the funding of critical production and logistical processes such as the coordination of in-person learning; synthesis of knowledge products and training materials; and synergy with the initiatives of MaFI members who are trying to achieve similar objectives on their own. In the latter case, the main challenge is covering the coordination costs. 2
    • 1.3. Systemic M&E: case studies and advocacy (module #3 of the work plan) DFID panel on findings of ITAD review on M&E practices: On 20 June, DFID invited MaFI’s facilitator to comment on this document from the perspective of the seven principles of systemic M&E. This event targeted all the technical experts of DFID in London and Glasgow. The facilitator is also using the comments he made to the review to promote an online discussion on MaFI with the collaboration of Elise Wach, one of the authors of the ITAD review.This discussion has been very active and relevant. Case study of the systemic M&E principles: after the original synthesis paper with the seven principles was produced, MaFI members and reviewers asked for concrete examples of their application. This case study is a direct and first response to that request. The case study explores the application of the principles in the context of the DFID funded Kenya Markets Assistance Program. The case study was finished in October 2013 with funding and technical support from USAID, which shows their commitment to this initiative. This document creates new opportunities for advocacy and learning about more appropriate and innovative ways of doing M&E in inclusive market development. http://bit.ly/systemandecasekenya Participation in the annual conference of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) to present the Systemic M&E synthesis: The paper was selected by a panel of experts through a competitive process. The facilitator of MaFI presented the paper on Friday 18 Oct. The description of the session can be found here: http://bit.ly/systemandeaeasession 1.4. Complexity Dialogues (module #4 of the work plan) Test of new format: Through the sessions that Debora Randall organized in Rwanda we learned that we needed to improve the format of the video lessons we have been using (Understanding Complexity by The Great Courses, with Prof. Scott E. Page). The facilitator and two other MaFI members (Mike Klassen and Alesh Brown) worked pro bono to edit one of the videos and tested it with the Rwanda group. Examples of changes made to the video are: duration was shortened from 30 to 15 minutes; questions related to market development were added at different points of the video to break the session with bite-size reflections. A commentary video was also produced to help the facilitator (in this case Debora) to be aware of the main issues of the video and to give her examples of concrete projects that could help her to make the lessons more relevant and dynamic. According to Debora, the new format worked very well; it made the session more interesting and lively and more connected to the reality of inclusive market facilitators. 3
    • 1.5. Local Learning and Collaboration (module #7 of the work plan) Design of new round of tests of Local Learning Groups model: this is being done in collaboration with MDF Bangladesh and Technoserve India. A concept note that describes the background, strategies and other details of this new model is available at: http://bit.ly/llgcn2 In September, Zunaed Rabbani, the MDF facilitator MDF, reported that they organized a breakfast meeting designed to link up with MaFI and SEEP. He added: “We are in the process of compiling and synthesizing the discussion. We will share that with our practitioners first for their feedback and then upload it on LinkedIn […] We would like comments of global practitioners on this and channel their input back to our practitioners […]” In October, Zunaed shared with the facilitator of MaFI an article describing how the meeting went and the questions and insights discussed. This document will be the basis for a dialogue between MDF and MaFI using the new LLG model. Bringing teams, networks or groups into MaFI for time-bound discussions: The idea is to build "economies of scale to learning" by bringing into MaFI(on LinkedIn) time-bound discussions that organizations frequently have with a relatively small number of their staff and partners and that are also relevant for MaFI members. These people do not necessarily have to become MaFI members; instead, they can be special guests for the duration of the discussions. Conversations with Christian Aid, M4C (M4P program in Bangladesh to improve markets in the chars), and Oxfam (humanitarian assistance network) to implement these discussions have taken place but none have been implemented yet. 1.6. Capacity building (module #5 of the work plan) Despite the diversity of strategies and activities that several MaFI members are using to build the capacity of facilitators and development organizations, there are common elements used by all that can become the basis for a set of basic, minimum capacity building guidelines. An informal agreement with EWB was made to do an online discussion to analyze members’ experiences and plans regarding capacity building and use this information to produce a concept note to raise funds to implement this initiative. Unfortunately, the person who kindly volunteered to do it was assigned to a project within EWB and the process has since stalled despite the generosity, enthusiasm and leadership of people like Lauren Dodds, Amir Allana, Mike Klassen, and Ryan Bourque. 2. Lessons learned and proposals for improvement This year gave us with the opportunity to test the limits of MaFI in terms of financial sustainability and value for money. This was a result of the limited financial 4
    • resources that were available to support the larger MaFI learning agenda for 2013. The facilitator turned this into an opportunityto answer the following question: what are the minimum basic functions and facilitation time that MaFI requires to operate and how much can it be achievedunder these circumstances? Each back-end maintenance task in the 2013 work plan was stripped down to its minimum possible duration, according to the experience of the facilitator. The contract for 2013 was for a total of 29.5 days distributed as follows: 24.5 days for back-end operation and maintenance and 5 days for development of concept notes and fundraising. Part of the fundraising allocation was used to produce the proposal that was funded by USAID to write the Kenya case study (see above); the rest was mainly used to discuss with EWB (via emails and phone calls) the production of a concept note to fund the capacity building initiative (see above). 2.1. Lessons: What the facilitator can do better Communicate changes in vision and work plan more frequently.It is not enough to inform members about the long term vision of MaFI and its yearly work plans at the beginning of each year. Members must get a sense of how the facilitator’s vision and the work plan (both its content and emphasis) are evolving to new challenges and opportunities as time goes by. This can help them to find new areas of synergy and provide feedback to make sure the facilitator is responding better to their needs and resources.Possible solution: periodic (possibly quarterly) newsletter. Leverage SEEP resources better. SEEP has proven to be an extremely capable partner and collaborator in initiatives like Systemic M&E and econsultations. SEEP have experts in social media, communications (including webinars and video conferences) and production of documents who have been responsive and provided high-quality outputs. The facilitator will call upon these resources more frequently and particularly regarding unexpected opportunities that are not considered in the work plan. Leverage the wisdom of key MaFI members better. The facilitator designs each work plan using inputs from consultation with members that take place on line and in person during the SEEP Annual. However, as MaFI’s relevance and complexity grows, it becomes necessary for the facilitator to be able to tap more frequently into the experience and wisdom of some of its members to discuss critical or highly strategic ideas as events unfold. Possible solution: ad-hoc phone conferences with key, relevant members (in some cases, wider consultations online will still be required). Work to guarantee resources for at least one collective project per year: MaFI has positioned itself as both a learning and action network. Learning conversations are very important but not enough. For MaFI to maintain its competitive edge it must be able to engage its members in collective projects that contribute to the advancement of the inclusive market facilitation field in ways that no single member can achieve on their own. Proposed solution: work very early during the contract cycle to get this funding and raise alarms very soon if it is proving very difficult. Do not leave this to opportunity. 5
    • Specific ideas to improve progress in other components Systemic M&E The facilitator will continue working with MaFI members and other networks to identify and publicize more examples of how the seven principles apply in practice. Examples of concrete deliverables: o Online collection of stories, anecdotes and cases (also negative) o Podcasts and video clips from the MAP study (require editing) o Improved and revised version of the original paper o Collaborate with projects willing to experiment with the principles The facilitator will continue working with SEEP to buildmore and new synergies with CGAP (financial inclusion), USAID, DFID and SDC (capacity building, learning networks, program design, policies and procedures, etc.), and AEA (multidisciplinary learning network) Complexity Dialogues (CDs) The facilitator will work with SEEP and potential donors to produce shorter versions of the remaining 11 Understanding Complexityvideosand distribute them to members who want to host CDs. May need authorization from The Great Courses. The facilitator will also work with SEEP to produce a toolkit for the facilitators of the CDs (e.g. memory stick with all the materials and printed manual). Local Learning Groups: The facilitator will work with SEEP to produce a guideline for people who want or have to facilitate local networks to help them build a structured dialogue with MaFI. Capacity Building The facilitator will work with SEEP and other key donor agencies to explore the possibility of a PLP (Practitioner Learning Program) to move this component forward with a relatively small group of MaFI members. 6