Edge follows market development approach which is based on the premise that better private and public sector business services, and an improved enabling environment lead to more competitive enterprises, which in turn leads to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. Edge follows the following principles:
A focus on causes rather than symptoms of underperformance in market systems. EDGE works to address underlying systemic constraints rather than directly delivering services. In other words, meaningful action to address the position of the poor means we must understand and act to change the world (the systems) around the poor, rather than only working with them directly.
The essence of this is identification of (1) the different functions in markets – the core transaction of supply and demand and the range of functions around this – such as support services, rules, information and inputs; and (2) the range of players involved – such as the private sector, Non-profits and government. Analysis must understand how and why this combination of functions and players is working or, more pertinently, not working effectively.
While implementation EDGE takes the role of a facilitator/cofacilitator. Lasting, systemic change requires that important market functions are performed by market players with the capacity and incentives to undertake those roles in the long term. EDGE aims to stimulate private and public sector players to innovate, adopt or adaptnew business models.
While intervention often involves working with specific players, the purpose is to stimulate others in the system – to ‘crowd in’ other activity and therefore achieve greater change.
EDGE always has an emphasis on sustainability. The market development approach recognizes that the process through which market system constraints are identified and addressed is as important as the solution itself. If the system, its functions and players, can be equipped to meet future challenges and continue to meet the changing needs of the poor then impact is sustained, rather than short-lived or dependent on further injections of aid.
EDGE gives emphasis on large-scale impact. The market development approach explicitly aims to reach large numbers of poor by harnessing the dynamism of the market system. It does this by alleviating the systemic constraints that restrict equitable participation and better terms of access to all those who engage with the system.