Approach to Inclusive Market Systems (AIMS)


The ILO applies the “Making Markets Work for the Poor” approach to the context of refugee livelihoods. Whereas traditional approaches to refugee livelihoods tend to focus on strengthening skill sets of refugees, for instance through vocational training, the ILO has introduced the “push-pull approach” that seeks to work on both, the demand and supply side of the labour market, as a framework for holistic and market-based livelihoods strategies.

The approach is based on the assumption that, in order for people to build sustainable livelihoods, two conditions must to be fulfilled:
  1. There need to be opportunities in the market, either for self-employment if a certain good or service is demanded on the market, or for salaried employment if employers are looking for employees
  2. People need the necessary skills and competencies to access such existing market opportunities.
The push-pull approach foresees two sets of separate but interlinked interventions. On the one hand, targeted push interventions aim developing the skills and capacities of the target group to engage with the market, for instance through technical or entrepreneurial skills development, strengthening social networks or transfer of assets. On the other, the ILO’s market systems development approach is used to develop sectors and value chains with potential to expand and diversify the market opportunities available to the target group and the host community.

The ILO disposes of a variety of tools and approaches that can be utilized for push and pull interventions, many of which have recently been adapted and used in the context of refugee livelihoods. To develop skills and capacities of a certain target group (i.e. the push), the ILO can deploy its dedicated “Start and Improve your Business (SIYB)” entrepreneurship training programme. With a network of over 300 Master trainers and 65,000 trainers in over 100 countries, and over 15 million end beneficiaries trained, SIYB is one of the largest entrepreneurship training programme globally. In addition, the ILO also offers a targeted entrepreneurship training for women, Get Ahead.

In order to develop markets and particularly sectors and value chains with potential, the ILO uses the Value Chain Development approach that seeks to develop sub-sectors and value chains with a view to promoting small enterprises. The approach studies market dynamics and relationships between different actors in the chain with the objective of strengthening the market system as a whole – enterprises, business relationships, financial networks, supporting functions, rules and norms, and the business environment – in a way that ensures greater benefits for the poor through economic growth and development. The ILO’s approach to value chain development is summarized in the “Value Chain Development for Decent Work”.