Expanding Conservation Impact through Enterprise Development (EXCITED): April 2016 blog entry

2nd April 2016

The project aims to contribute to the development and practical implementation of viable business models that provide positive social, economic and conservation impacts in landscapes of strategic biodiversity value. For further information, please visit the project page on the CCI website.

Building capacity through the Participatory Market System Development (PMSD) approach

Considerable progress has been made in the first step of the project approach, which focused on building capacity in the use of the Participatory Market System Development (PMSD) approach. In February Practical Action and FFI conducted a half-day introductory training on PMSD. Practical Action led this introductory session, which presented the key principles and elements of the approach, and included a lively discussion about implementation and measures of success when using the approach in a conservation context.

This half-day was followed immediately by a full-day, practical session on the market system mapping process. Led again by Practical Action, this interactive session focused on learning about the market-system mapping process for a specific commodity (forest honey) produced by communities in the FFI Village Forest project area in Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan. Since then, the project team has also held in-depth, five-day PMSD training course for selected FFI staff and partners in Indonesia.

The training process has also started to reveal important insights into the application of the PMSD approach in a conservation context – where development outcomes are seen as a route to achieving conservation outcomes. For example, for development organisations, PMSD’s vision of ‘impact at scale’ is framed in terms of large numbers of marginalised people benefitting from sustainable livelihoods; for conservation organisations scale is more likely to be measured in terms of total area of high biodiversity value protected, as a result of livelihood benefits that also provide a strong incentive for conservation and sustainable use. As implementation proceeds, it is these kinds of differences that will guide how the PMSD tools are adapted for use by the conservation community.

Bringing together different skills

Another major focus has been the recruitment of the Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS) MBA student team to conduct the business development needs assessment for two selected community-based enterprises in Indonesia. The project team presented the project to the MBA cohort, from which four students were selected, plus one PhD student. The project team has provided intensive mentoring on project design, technical input and logistics in preparation for the consultancy, and fieldwork is now underway.

Collaboration has been a very positive experience to date. It is genuinely the case that each member of the partnership has made unique and important contributions to the delivery of the project. Planning meetings have worked well face-to-face and via Skype. Division of labour has been effective, with CJBS focused on supporting the MBA Global Consulting Project, Practical Action providing the technical expertise and facilitation skills in the PMSD approach, the Department of Geography providing timely academic input, particularly at key moments in project planning, and supporting engagement with student participants; and FFI leading overall project coordination, in-country logistics and expertise, and project M&E.

Unexpected added value has come from CJBS facilitating the involvement of a PhD student as a participant observer during the MBA fieldwork, which potentially lays the foundation for a longer term research collaboration, if the student incorporates this project into her doctoral research.

Challenges have included planning fieldwork around team schedules in Indonesia, plus limitations in the number of days available for project partners, which has restricted their broader involvement in day-to-day project delivery. That said, the key needs have been met, so it has not been a major issue. Budget constraints on the continuation of field activities were pre-empted and overcome by FFI securing co-funding from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

Keep an eye on the project page on the CCI website for the latest developments.