Getting Connected: The Capacity Development Fair as a way to stimulate dynamics in the Capacity Development Services Market

Judith van Eijnatten

This case study describes how a local market fair for services helped to bring about transparency and connections for actors in the segmented value chains of non-timber forest products. The case describes how and why the fair was organised and presents statistics highlighting its success.

If a market can be described as an environment, whether physical or virtual, in which demand and supply actors can meet, interact, negotiate and do deals for the purchase and delivery of products or services, then this applies also to capacity development services. Currently, the market environment of capacity development services in Cameroon can best be described as opaque and disconnected.

SNV believes that if the capacity development market was to benefit from promotion, structuring and regulation, this would tremendously increase the chances of a dynamic, free and inclusive market to appear.


An underlying concept to capacity development fairs is the expectation that if demand and supply actors and financiers get to know (about) each other in a setting where they are free to display what they have on offer and to interact, this will promote market forces coming into play: demand for services will be generated, competition will increase, prices of services will become more rational and demand for quality will be expressed


1) Select Location - Allow participation to be self-supported so ensure ease of access

2) Identification of Stakeholder Catergories - Prepare lists of the type of value chain actors operating at each level of the chain. In many cases stakeholders are local but some key ones might be based further away in larger commercial centres.

3) Identify specific key stakeholders - Visit and meet with them in order to explain the idea of a capacity development fair and enlist their support and participation.

4) Organise the fair logically -  On the day of the fair the hall was organised such that actors in the NTFP value chain were placed in an outer circle following the value chain logic: starting with the producers, through processors to wholesalers and retailers. An inner circle comprised the service providers including the local line ministries, civil society organisations, development partners and the private sector. Participants arrived early to set up their stands: producers, processors and traders


The fair provided an occasion for all participants to present, assess and reassess needs, products and services, to consider how these could be managed more effectively, how they could be obtained and delivered more coherently and efficiently.

The fair contributed to structuring the local capacity development market. It allowed the market to become tangible and visible. The fair thus helped to raise awareness of the existence, context and potential opportunities of the capacity development market. It has further helped to improve market transparency and accessibility of services for the poor.

Lessons Learned

Organising the fair gave confirmation that all stakeholders (demand and supply actors as well as financiers) have a need for the capacity development market to be tangible. The big turnout and the quality of interaction further indicate that the market fair was addressing a market failure. With first-hand experience having been gained, a point of attention is to delegate more strongly the organisation of fairs to local players in order to facilitate locally appropriate and locally owned fairs. Such fairs could in future become a part of the fabric of rural life. Information obtained during this first experience will be used to further innovate for new services at fairs, new fair modalities and new ways to making the capacity development market work for poor people.

Year of publication: 
SNV Case story collection
Themes and sectors: 
Agriculture, fisheries, and food security
Case story length: 
3 pages

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