Consultant - Market Systems Assessment - Remote and Burkina Faso

Programs Anywhere, United States



Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.

As part of our activities in Burkina Faso, Mercy Corps will conduct a full in-depth market assessment to understand the maize sector in Burkina Faso and identify concrete actionable solutions to improve its effectiveness. 

Purpose of Consultancy

The consultant will conduct a full market systems assessment of the maize sector in Burkina Faso and design the program strategy/activities for smallholder farmer resilience and growth as well as sector-wide job creation. This assessment will follow a market systems development (MSD) approach to understand the maize sector including the relevant core, supporting functions, rules and norms. The assessment will evaluate market system performance, identify constraints and their underlying causes, opportunities, and incentives at all levels. The assessment will help inform interventions and potential partnerships to 1) support smallholder farmer resilience and productivity/growth, as well as 2) sector-wide job creation. Special attention will be given to understanding the constraints and their underlying causes as well as the feasibility of proposed solutions and new business models. The consultant will develop a program design based on the market assessment and feasibility/business models analysis, including a detailed program strategy, workplan, and results chains. As part of the market assessment, the consultant will also build the MSD assessment capacity for the Mercy Corps Burkina Faso team to support the study implementation.

Objectives, activities, and deliverables:

Objective 1: Conduct a market systems assessment as outlined in the above section and the activities below to include:

  • Descriptive and quantified analysis of the different actors, levels and marketing channels of maize produced in Burkina (production, aggregators, transport, processing, packaging, retailers, marketing, distribution), as well as an in-depth analysis of the advantages/limitations and competitiveness of these different actors intervening at different levels of the value chain (production, logistics, aggregation, process, marketing, distribution and export), including their competitive positioning (business model, process, production and transport costs, added value, target market);
  • Identification of the obstacles/bottlenecks to the development of the various actors in the sector, as well as the possible solutions (and the relevant actors to provide them) for the removal or mitigation of these obstacles
  • Identification and diagnosis of the risk factors (shocks and stresses) impacting on the agribusiness market and market environment, their short and long term implications on economic resilience and growth, also taking into account the risks of conflicts (farmers/pastoralists in particular) and other issues such as land tenure security, women's exclusion from land ownership
  • Identification and description of the different market players by mapping their risk profiles, their risk mitigation strategies, the strengths and constraints of implementing these strategies.
  • In-depth analysis of the potential for development of the maize supply chain in Burkina Faso in terms of production and aggregation. By conducting an in-depth analysis of legal issues, national and international regulations, and national policies affecting the maize sector (including export bans, land tenure issues, and issues related to input distribution and agricultural contracting more generally);
  • Review of the state of mechanisation in the maize sector, as well as a technological benchmark on maize farming (with a presentation of the advantages/disadvantages of the different technologies identified);
  • Identification the main outlets for maize (flour, grits, animal and human food), the size of the markets, growth potential and trends, the marketing mix of the players, the networks at their disposal, as well as a benchmark in terms of competitiveness compared to other crops. 

Mercy Corps’ will provide detailed tools, templates, and outlines in Mercy Corps format to use for deliverables.


  • Attend planning call with project team
  • Conduct and capture secondary/background research
  • Prepare research plan with workplan
  • Prepare kick-off workshop agenda and materials
  • Develop MSA Report Outline and Template with input from the project team
  • Conduct kick-off workshop with qualitative/quantitative data gathering training as well as MSD Lite training
  • Plan field/assessment logistics with the project team
  • Lead data quality checks and lead refinement/adaptation of data gathering tools, questions, and methods as necessary
  • Complete the market donut, market map (value chain), and stakeholder list (organized by market function and including market actor groups’ numbers and description of their power/influence)
  • Assess and describe market systems performance (opportunities, constraints, incentives, relationships) at the function and market actor group levels (for core and supporting functions and rules/norms)
  • Assess resilience capacities as agreed-upon with the project team for small-holder farmers and potentially including market systems resilience
  • Assess cross-cutting themes (ex. youth, women, environment, conflict) as agreed-upon with the project team
  • Identify main market systems constraints and conduct a root cause analysis
  • Together with the project team, prioritize the constraints (based on criteria developed with the project team) and justify the selection
  • Fill out the MSA report template from the beginning and continue throughout the MSA & Design process for each of the selected market systems. This means that the MSA Report & Design template is closely aligned with the process described in this SoW and in the tools/template and resources that are available from Mercy Corps.


  1. Kick-off workshop agenda and materials
  2. Research plan with workplan
  3. Field assessment logistics plan
  4. MSA Report Outline and Template
  5. Draft MSA Report (including excel tools/templates)
    1. Draft labor market sub-sector report (as part of main MSA Report)   

    Objective 2: Design program interventions including activities/partnerships

    The consultant will work closely with the project team to develop project interventions, activities and potential partnerships based on the information gathered during the market assessment. It is expected that design activities will commence while the market assessment is still taking place. The MSA report will include both the market assessment and intervention design. The outline/template will be shared by the MC project team.


    Together with the project team:

    • Conduct a “who does/who pays” (WDWP matrix) exercise for the prioritized constraints, to develop a vision of the market system future, identifying potential market actor groups as partners and pursuing sustainability/scalability of interventions
    • Identify the potential activities (using the facilitation options list provided by the MC project team) and partnerships (market actor groups or individual market actors) for the priority constraints from the WDWP matrix.
    • Conduct a potential partner selection exercise, using the Will/Skill Matrix
    • Select priority intervention areas and develop “intervention tables”, detailing for each intervention: the vision, objectives, target group, potential pilot activities, potential partners, AND impact projections
    • Conduct data-driven feasibility checks on the identified opportunity, partners, and solution such as new business models (as per Mercy Corps project team guidance)
    • Construct sector-level and program-level results chains from the bottom up (i.e. the intervention areas identified as part of the design process).


    1. Impact projections and feasibility checks of the recommended opportunity, partners, and solutions.
    2. Final MSA report with intervention design and Results Chains
      1. Final labor market sub-sector report within the main MSA report or separate (feeding into the intervention design and results chains)
    3. A draft workplan

    Objective 3: Build staff capacity in MSD

    As part of the process of conducting the market assessment and design work, the consultant will build the capacity of the Mercy Corps project team in the Market Systems Development (MSD) approach. Most of this capacity building will be done through learning-by-doing with the project team throughout the MSA & Design process. Training materials can be made available by Mercy Corps.


    • Conduct MSD Lite training
    • Conduct qual/quant data gathering methods training
    • Conduct ongoing on-the-job learning capacity building throughout the entire process


    1. All relevant training materials

    LOE and Timeline

    Below is a list of consultant activities with estimated days of effort and timelines. The exact timeline will be determined between the Mercy Corps team and the consultant at the onset of the consultancy, and due dates will be finalized in the workplan upon approval by Mercy Corps.

    The anticipated LOE for this assignment is up to 70 days within a 4 month period. Ideal start date is mid-July 2021. All deliverables must be approved by the Mercy Corps representative to be considered final.

    1. Conduct a market systems assessment (including resilience considerations and the labor market as a sub-sector) 45 days, Jul – Sept 2021, Remote &In-country, Deliverables:
      1. Kick-off workshop agenda and materials
      2. Research plan with workplan
      3. Field assessment logistics plan
      4. MSA Report Outline and Template
      5. Draft MSA Report with intervention design including labor market sub-sector report
    2. Design program interventions including activities/partnerships 15 days September 2021 In-country
      1. Draft MSA Report with intervention design including labor market sub-sector report
      2. Impact projections and feasibility checks of the recommended opportunity, partners, and solutions.
    3. Finalize MSA & Program Design Report 10 days, October 2021, Remote, Deliverables:
      1. Final MSA report with intervention design and Results Chains
      2. Final labor market sub-sector report within the main MSA report (feeding into the intervention design and results chains)
      3. A draft workplan

    Build staff capacity in MSD. Deliverables - All relevant training materials

    Total 70 days, Jul-Nov 21

    Mercy Corps Responsibilities

    • Assist in refinement of market assessment tools in preparation of the in-depth market assessments. This will be done with input by Mercy Corps’ technical experts to ensure that Mercy Corps’ Market Systems approach is followed
    • Organize transportation to/from locality
    • Facilitate meetings with key stakeholders from the community
    • Provide any materials and refreshments for workshops (including printing)
    • Review/approve all draft and final deliverables
    • Contract and pay any research team to support primary data collection (if necessary)

    Assessment Team

    • Assessment Lead – Market Assessment Consultant
    • Mercy Corps Sahel Regional Advisor
    • 4 Burkina Faso staff/consultants
    • Project logistical and financial support staff

    The Consultant will report to

    Mercy Corps Director, Agriculture Systems

    The Consultant will work closely with:

    The Burkina Faso team and HQ-based technical advisers in agriculture, market systems and employment 

    Required Experience and Skills

    • BSs in economics, business administration international development, or any research related field, MSc/MBA is preferred
    • 5-10 years of progressive experience and proven high level of competence in socio-economic development, economic development-related programs, ideally in in a vulnerable context;
    • Demonstrated experience with market systems assessments and designing private sector development activities (required)
    • Experience with agricultural markets required and maize (preferred)
    • Experience with resilience assessment and design (preferred)
    • Experience working in Burkina Faso (preferred)
    • Fluency in spoken and written English (required) and French (preferred).
    • Ability to work under pressure, independently and with limited supervision
    • Demonstrated creative problem-solving skills and excellent time management capacities
    • Security, political and cultural awareness
    • Highly developed interpersonal communication skills
    • Deep commitment to humanitarian principles and values

    Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
    Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives. 

    We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.

    Equal Employment Opportunity
    We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.

    Safeguarding & Ethics
    Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our stakeholders and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.