• Awarded: 2010
  • Issue Areas: Economic Opportunity · Financial Services · Livelihoods
  • Region: Middle East and North Africa · Southeast Asia · West and Central Africa
  • Web:
  • About the Organization

    Building Markets (formerly Peace Dividend Trust) is a non-profit social enterprise that builds markets and creates jobs to sustain peace in developing countries by championing local entrepreneurs and connecting them to new business opportunities.

    Operating in Afghanistan, Haiti, Liberia, Mozambique, Myanmar, and Timor-Leste, Building Markets has redirected over one billion dollars in international spending into these local economies and helped to create the equivalent of over 65,000 full-time jobs.

    Job creation is one of the greatest drivers of poverty reduction and stability in conflict-prone countries. The key to those jobs? Local entrepreneurs. Poverty and instability persist due to barriers that prevent local entrepreneurs from accessing formal business opportunities. Building Markets was founded to solve this problem.

    Their approach is simple. They connect local entrepreneurs to domestic, regional, and global supply chains. Their teams start by finding and verifying competitive local businesses and matching them with buyers. They collect, translate, and distribute tenders; and they train local businesses in how to bid on, win, and execute those tenders. Building Markets also advocates for aid reform and open markets.

    When relief teams source goods from global suppliers (in examples such as the rebuilding of post-war Afghanistan), local entrepreneurs in the crisis area often lose a chance to engage in that business.

    Building Markets connects qualified local businesses with large international buyers.

    Local businesses learn how to bid on, win, and execute contracts.

    More than 16,000 businesses with 65,000 employees have brought both services and jobs to crisis regions.

    Ambition for Change

    International aid organizations and others are able to simply and effectively source local goods, and local entrepreneurs develop the sophistication to serve them effectively. Each side of the market sustains the other, creating local jobs and bolstering local producers.

    Path to Scale

    Influence Procurement Decisionmakers

    Building Markets advocates for “buy local” policies and supports and verifies local businesses’ capacities to meet expectations and standards.

    Business Model

    Supported largely by government grants, supplemented by philanthropy.

    In 2001, Scott Gilmore was on leave from the Canadian diplomatic service, working for the UN peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste. He grew frustrated at how the peacekeepers’ ability to achieve their goals were hampered by policies and practices that, for example, prevented hiring local staff, even though high local unemployment meant that labor was available. He started an informal group of development and peacekeeping professionals to share lessons and experience in the hope of making improvements. In 2003, he launched the organization now called Building Markets, to connect local entrepreneurs to domestic, regional and global supply chains. Building Markets finds and verifies competitive local businesses and matches them with large international buyers. Building Markets teams collect and translate tenders—formal, structured invitations to suppliers to bid, to supply products or services—and distribute them through the network. They train local businesses on how to bid on, win, and execute those tenders. They measure impact, and advocate for aid reform and open markets. At the time of the Award, Building Markets (then called Peace Dividend Trust) had played a major role in the U.S. Government’s Afghan First policy in Afghanistan, and was actively engaged with 12 peacekeeping missions adopting its approach around the world.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • Building Markets has verified more than 16,000 businesses; helped create or sustain 65,000 full-time equivalent jobs; and facilitated more than 16,000 contracts valued at more than $1 billion for local businesses.
    • Supported local businesses in Haiti, Afghanistan, and Myanmar, and launched operations in Mozambique.
    • Helped international agencies in Afghanistan increase local spending by $375 million, creating thousands of jobs, through the Peace Dividend Marketplace.
    • Conducted economic research to track donor spending, including a report “Spending the Development Dollar Twice,” leading governments of the U.S., Australia, and Britain, as well as the United Nations, to adopt “buy local” policies.

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