As ELAN RDC seeks to support the development of pro-poor market systems by working through economic actors, many of its target beneficiaries can be found in areas impacted by one or more crises. These zones are typically characterized by thin markets, limited formal private sector activity and heavy humanitarian presence.
The nature of these markets makes it difficult to identify viable private-sector partners to work with in the hopes of generating market system changes. In that context humanitarian actors present an alternative and key economic player to work with. Here, failure to consider and to engage the humanitarian industry would be to miss the bulk of the market.
While zones directly affected by crisis have always been included amongst ELAN RDC’s priority provinces as fixed by DFID, activity was limited during the early stages of the programme as private sector engagement models were tested in more stable markets. The large-scale arrival of humanitarian actors in Kananga (Kasai Central) after the Kamina Nswapu chieftaincy conflict (started in 2016), however, offered ELAN RDC an opportunity to expand its activities in the province; capitalising on humanitarian interventions to consider how more (or different) private sector engagement could revive the local market.
The strategy was later expanded at national level to include Tanganyika and North and South Kivu.
ELAN’s MIC strategy was designed to expand ELAN’s traditional sector activities to Markets in Crisis (defined for the programme as Kasai, Tanganyika, Kivu), capitalizing on the strong humanitarian presence to generate Market System Changes.
ELAN came to view the aid industry under two lights in DRC:
1. Aid actors, whether humanitarian or development, are key economic players in DRC and attractive consumers for the private sector
Aid actors can be leveraged by the private sector for market entry and product/brand visibility
Ignoring the humanitarian community from a Market System Development intervention could erode progress made by the programme
2. After 25 years of aid assistance within a complex context that continues to deteriorate, there is an appetite to explore new types of delivery mechanisms, including those centered around the private sector.
To this end ELAN adopted the following strategy:
Established proofs of concept with and for humanitarian agencies:
Worked with a private sector partner to demonstrate humanitarian benefit of market-oriented solutions
Worked with private sector partners to expand services to aid heavy areas and promote innovation for the humanitarian sector
Accompanied humanitarian actors to pilot market-oriented approaches
Facilitated replication among agencies and within regional industries:
Showcased the proof of concept and success: Private Sector / Aid Sector Networking Events
Bridged information gap between communities and markets through business missions
Bridged information gap between communities and markets through market studies
Included private sector engagement in aid coordination platforms strategies (National Cash Working Group; Safe Access to Fuel and Energy working group; etc.)
Provided guidelines to foster Private/Humanitarian cooperation.