Changing behaviors—especially multiple behaviors across market actors—can be challenging. Predictably, this means complex market systems are also difficult to transform. If we want to change individual behaviors across the market system to alleviate poverty, where do we even begin?

On May 3, ACDI/VOCA’s virtual “Facilitating Behavior Change: Social and Behavior Change and Market Systems” conference introduced methodologies to these still rarely combined approaches.

Social behavior change (SBC) has been used in public health over the years, but the approach can easily transfer to market systems development. And while less conventional, the combination can be groundbreaking.

As a leader in market systems, ACDI/VOCA identifies factors that constrain market actors from reaching their full potential—a potential that Lucho Osorio, a consultant in inclusive market systems and keynote speaker of the event, called largely untapped.

“Half of the world’s workforce operates in the informal economy,” Osorio said. Market systems development, he added, is a paradigm shift from focusing on the poor to a focusing on market systems, and from viewing the poor as beneficiaries to viewing the poor as market actors.

Lenette Golding, program director for Alive & Thrive in Nigeria and keynote speaker, emphasized the unpredictability of behavior and the necessity of SBC research. In one example, she cited Kenyan farmers who failed to purchase fertilizer—not because of a lack of knowledge of the benefits, but because of the small costs associated with traveling to the market to purchase it. In the survey cited, those using fertilizer grew from 37 to 70 percent once project interventions established a home delivery system.

Both keynote speakers discussed how understanding behavior and its motivators can inform market systems development and related programs—often predicting their success or failure.

Panelists, including Cheryl Turner, Anna Garloch, and Sarah Sahlaney, of ACDI/VOCA, as well as Romain Kenfack, of Agribusiness Systems International (ASI), and Erin Markel, who worked on ACDI/VOCA’s Leveraging Economic Opportunities (LEO) project, answered questions and shared their most surprising moments working with the two methodologies.  Dan White, Director of Agriculture at ACDI/VOCA, wrapped up the conference with closing comments and a request for further engagement.

Watch the webinar related to market systems development (part one).

Watch the presentation on social behavior change and market systems development, along with Q&A (part two).

Watch the panel discussion (part three).

View the presentation.

Learn more about ACDI/VOCA’s market systems approach.

Additional Resources:


Our Experience: Burkina Faso SE LEVER

FIELD Report: Behavior Change Perspectives on Gender and Value Chain Development

Cartoon Learning Series

Market Facilitation Cartoon Learning Series

Practical Tools for Measuring System Health

The Utility of Market Analyses


For more information on SBC, please see:

For more information on market systems, please reference: