New Graduation Programs- Mentoring Support or Market Development?
My colleague Ric Goodman (former Director of the Chars Livelihoods Program in Bangladesh) and I are in the process of designing the Graduation Program in Laos, and are coming up against a very fundamental issue, and could really gain from your insights and experience. We are designing the intervention on a tight budget (of course!), and have currently budgeted significant resources for weekly household visits by facilitators. However, we are also emphasizing strong market linkages in this program, and are thus suggesting strong investment into appropriate staff and resources to develop value chains for the enterprises that the participants are given.
Ric and I are therefore discussing what should take precedence for the pilot: more resources to market development (e.g. market studies, enterprise specialists to work with the implementing organizations, technical experts to work alongside the beneficiaries), at the risk of less ‘mentoring support’ and regular weekly household visits? Or more emphasis on regular household visits and mentoring, and with less resources dedicated toward strengthening enterprises and value chains? Ric supports the former (his experience with CLP shows that light touch household support and greater focus on markets makes the interventions more sustainable and scalable), while I am for the latter (CGAP-Ford Graduation Programs show that strong mentoring is key in enabling households to engage and make the most of their enterprises).
With finite resources (as with all your program), what takes precedence? Of these two elements, what did you prioritize for your pilot, and what did you prioritize for scale-up? Not just the balance required for achieving short-term impact, but what you feel is required to achieve scale, efficiency and longer-term impact.
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