Market Development Facility (MDF)

Location: Timor-Leste; Pakistan; Fiji; Australasia; Asia; Papua New Guinea; Sri Lanka

​Phase 1 of the Market Development Facility (MDF) was a six-year, AU$48 million private sector development project funded by the Australian Government, which aimed to sustainably increase employment for poor women and men in rural and urban areas.

MDF used market-based approaches, including a strong emphasis on understanding market systems before intervening; a flexible, entrepreneurial market facilitation approach; and a consistent and relentless focus on results.

The Market Development Facility followed principles of:

  • Targeting the poor and vulnerable directly or indirectly in all activities
  • Tailoring approaches to address the cause of the problem
  • Consistently deploying experts that understand markets, governments and the incentives that drive them
  • Proactively managing risks through a balanced portfolio of interventions
  • Constantly communicating with market participants and external stakeholders
  • Always insisting on sustainability and having a credible exit strategy
  • Partnering with existing market players, matching their incentives with key needs in the market, and building their capacity to provide the right solutions.
  • Not becoming an active market player so that new activities and solutions are embedded in the current market system ensuring long-term sustainability
  • Consistently applying a ‘do no harm’ framework in conflict-affected areas
  • Application of Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) standards.

Cardno was responsible for all management and implementation functions of the Facility to maximise sustainable and systemic change in markets that lead to pro-poor growth. Cardno’s Melbourne office provided technical and managerial leadership to the Facility as well as advice to ensure DFAT reporting and financial needs were anticipated and met. In recognition of the uniqueness of this approach, Cardno was especially proactive in communicating the approach, its strategies, its challenges and results with stakeholders, particularly DFAT.

For more information, please visit MDF's website, photo stories or YouTube Channel.

MDF updates

MDF's partnership with Marcus Kahl Seeds is increasing income for onion seeds and bulbs' farmers in Chitral, Pakistan

MDF recently published a fascinating photo story about its partnership with a multinational seed company, Magnus Kahl Seeds, to improve onion seed farmers’ livelihood and create opportunities for women’s economic empowerment in Chitral, Pakistan. Click here to view the photo story.

Cardno empowers women in Fiji, PNG, Pakistan, Timor-Leste and Sri Lanka:

MDF incorporates women’s economic empowerment throughout all stages of the program – from selecting sectors in which to work to measuring impacts and cases of success. While choosing sectors in each country, MDF considers where women are actively involved. It then refines and supplements its sector research and sector strategies through specific gender-focused research. MDF has published a series of articles / stories about its work in women’s economic empowerment:

For more information about MDF, please visit the website.

Other information:


Photo credit: DFAT / Market Development Facility (MDF)