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A Dance with Impact Measurement

Building Markets implemented the Afghanistan Marketplace Initiative from January 2006 to March 2012. The Marketplace is accredited with helping 680 Afghan businesses win over 1,300 contracts valued at over $1 billion. These contracts helped create or sustain an estimated 130,000 jobs lasting six months in Afghanistan – a number equivalent to approximately 1% of the Afghan labour force.  If that piques your interest and you’re curious to read more about our impact in Afghanistan, then watch this space closely.

Why the premonitory suspense? Because we are incredibly excited to launch our Afghanistan Marketplace Impact Report. This report will provide more detail on key results that the Marketplace programme has achieved in Afghanistan since 2006.  Now, something you should know about Building Markets (that is, if you haven’t already gathered as much) is that we’re crazy about a thing called impact. Call it the development practitioners’ asymptote; we strive to empirically measure the impact of our projects, in terms of their ability to achieve short, medium and long-term outcomes. The fact that we are able to do this during the lifespan of our projects is unfathomably enthralling, so you can see why impact measurement gets us swinging like a 1960s Bollywood movie.

Since we’re on the subject of impact, I should also add that we were thrilled to receive this wonderful thank-you letter from our local partner in Kabul: the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) earlier in April this year. 

What could this letter possibly have to do with impact? Quite a lot actually, or we wouldn’t be quite as pleased! In autumn 2011, following a rigorous selection process, Building Markets formalized a partnership agreement with the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries. As our local partner in Kabul, we were committing to work with the ACCI to build the organizations’ institutional capacity to independently deliver international procurement training and tender distribution services in Kabul after the close of the Afghanistan Marketplace project on 30 March 2012.

Recognizing that there is significant demand for each of these services, the Building Markets’ team worked closely with the ACCI over a six-month period, so as to ensure an effective transfer of services, and in so doing continue to maximise the associated dollar value impact of these services. This included the development of a nifty tender-distribution website which would be used by the ACCI to disseminate information on tenders to registered subscribers via email and SMS.

Since 2006, the Afghanistan Marketplace has recorded feedback from transactions worth $334 million and representing 860 contracts that suppliers attributed to some extent to the training and tender distribution services provided by Building Markets. (What’s this? Another teaser from our upcoming impact report!) Through the continuation of these services under the ACCI, Afghan small and medium enterprises will continue to positively benefit from an increased access to and awareness of business opportunities. Having reaffirmed its commitment to sustaining the impact of these services in a letter to Building Markets, now you can see why we were so excited!

It has been a month since the closure of the Afghanistan Marketplace project, and there is already demonstrable evidence supporting the ACCI’s commitment to translating their words into deeds. For instance, the nifty tender distribution site is now fully populated with tenders and has become a bustling hub of activity, having received over 44,000 page views in the month of April alone! What’s more, the ACCI now encourage businesses to advertise on this website. This initiative will give businesses the opportunity to promote themselves on a public forum with high levels of site traffic, while permitting the ACCI to recoup site costs and generate revenues through advertising. Enough said. Cue the Bollywood Swing!

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