Introduction to the DCED

Economic Opportunity for the Poor through the Private Sector: Learning from Experience

People around the world prefer the dignity of working their own way out of poverty, rather than depending on charity. The private sector can generate the jobs and economic opportunities that enable people to do that. Donors are therefore increasingly placing private sector development (PSD) and engagement at the heart of their work. The Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) enhances these efforts by sharing information about what works – based on practical experience and evidence on results.

Founded in 1979, the DCED has developed a substantial body of knowledge about the rapidly expanding field of PSD – as summarised in its websites, starting at A Secretariat, in collaboration with policy advisors, researchers and field practitioners, ensures the quality and cutting-edge character of its contents. In the last year (to 2018), DCED websites have had over 300,000 page views from almost 100,000 visitors.

The DCED’s members – funding and inter-governmental agencies – share the vision of making PSD more effective by:

  • Sharing experience between agencies and field programmes;
  • Developing and disseminating knowledge and guidance on good practice in PSD; and
  • Communicating evidence on results in PSD.


Knowledge and Guidance for PSD Practitioners

The DCED is currently ‘seen as the most important source of knowledge’ on market development approaches, according to a survey of 231 stakeholders in 54 countries by the BEAM Exchange.

The DCED websites include an wide range of resources on most PSD approaches and themes, such as Industrial Policy, Market Systems Development or Partnerships with the Private Sector. New resource areas are being developed in line with member priorities, for example on Job Creation and Inclusive Business.

Syntheses and original research on effective practices, current debates or new trends are being expanded. News on PSD is regularly communicated through the DCED Newsletter, and its social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Many of the DCED’s own knowledge and guidance products are developed by thematic Working Groups, which are currently focused on Private Sector Engagement, Market SystemsResults Measurement, Business Environment Reform, Green Growth, and Women’s Economic Empowerment.

Measuring Results is a top priority for members. The DCED has convened field-based experts to develop a Standard for results measurement – providing practitioners with a common, practical framework and an incentive to measure their results credibly. The website offers a growing library of case studies and supporting documents, including on how to apply the Standard in conflict-affected environments or to measure women’s economic empowerment. About 150 donor-funded programmes are currently using the Standard, representing over $1.5 billion in development funds spent.

The DCED’s work on PSD in Conflict-Affected Environments (CAEs) also includes a publication on Key Resources for PSD Practitioners in CAEs and an extensive online library. The DCED has developed an inter-agency training course on PSD in CAEs, offered on demand.

DCED members’ common understanding of good practice in Business Environment Reform (BER) has been documented in the Practical Guidance on BER. Through publications and conferences, the DCED has also tackled key issues such as BER and the Informal Economy, Strategic Industrial Policy and BER, and Quality Infrastructure.

Many agencies are currently emphasizing the opportunities of engaging directly with businesses to create economic opportunities for the poor in their supply chain – for example through challenge funds. Based on the gaps in knowledge and practice identified in a Review of experience, the DCED developed Guidelines for Measuring Results in Challenge Funds, as well as a guide on demonstrating the additionality of donor support to business. Recent work includes a review of multi-stakeholder platforms and an analysis of institutional changes to enable the transition from bilateral work with governments, to a combination of traditional instruments and strategic engagement with the private sector.


Evidence on results in PSD

With PSD a priority in many agencies, policy makers are keen to learn about what works and what does not. A focus of the DCED is therefore to communicate data on results in PSD. This includes listing credible impact stories that report impact at scale; organising robust field-level and academic evidence in an overarching results chain; and publishing mail-outs on the Latest Research and Evidence.


Individual support to member agencies

The DCED website offers a rich set of information to newcomers and more advanced practitioners in PSD and also serves as a central repository of current PSD policies of major donor agencies. In addition, the DCED Secretariat offers technical support to member agencies – on any request for information, resources, contacts or other advice. The Secretariat also provides introductory training to member agency field staff, and gives presentations on PSD and the work of the DCED at agency events.


Learn more

  • To learn more about how to join the DCED, please click here.
  • To get in touch with the DCED Coordinator, click here.


Photo credits

Photo credit: Katalyst