Market Assessments – building the foundations

Market Assessments – building the foundations

Before starting any social business, project or programme, it is key to understand the market influences and how these might affect what we aim to do. Market assessments are therefore a core part of WSV day to day work.

WSV has conducted market assessments across 6 countries. To assess everything from how communities live and what social innovations are viable, to is there a national level market for a large social enterprise.

Our experience has enabled us to build a transferable set of tools and processes for quickly and effectively conducting these assessments for social enterprises and programmes.

The market assessments WSV does can be categorised into 3 areas:

  1. General market assessments – is used to analyse a community in general and look for potential business ideas and programmes.
  2. Micro-business model - feasibility studies – is used to analyse whether a specific micro-business is viable.
  3. General business model - market research – is used to look at whether a business is viable beyond the micro scale.

All the market assessments WSV do focus on three key areas: (1) is there a market need? (2) do the numbers work? and (3) what barriers need to be overcome to succeed.

General market assessments

A general market assessment is used to analyse a community to answer these key questions:
- What needs are there in the community?
- What are the existing businesses and livelihoods in the community?
- What businesses opportunities there are?
- What is the potential for certain interventions (if already identified)?

This involves:

Community assessments conducted through WSV Collect, our data collection application.

Community mapping using WSV Collect’s location grab. This creates a map of the community and identifies the best locations for businesses and interventions.

Focus groups with community leaders and community members.

Assessment of key institutions (schools, shops, government institutions)

Other specific assessments as required. For example, footfall through community spaces to identify the best business locations.

Depending on the depth of the analysis required, we use some or all of these tools. Training on all the tools is available as well as support in implementing them. The tools can also be tailored for specific requirements.

Case study – General Market Assessment

WSV is a partner on the ZayoHub Zambia project, the largest Transform

(Unilever & DfID collaboration) funded project to date.

WSV was requested to develop the formative research for the project. WSV then led the formative research over 29 days, across 680 kilometres with a team of 12 research assistants.

We assessed the needs in the community, analysed the suitability of the potential sites and looked for market opportunities.

During the formative research Adam (WSV Founder) trained and led a team of local research assistants to collect the data, across 4 sites. WSV then analysed the data and proposed suitable interventions as indicated by the needs in each community.

Adam (WSV Founder) conducting a focus group

WSV were brought back for a larger research mission into the phase 2 sites. In total, we visited, engaged with and analysed 17 communities.

Micro-business model - feasibility studies

If you have a specific micro-business model to conduct market research for, then WSV uses a feasibility assessment to look at the viability of that business. Depending on the resources available, a selection of the tools from the general market assessment are used to provide further data.

The feasibility study is typically split into two parts:

  • Community assessment – analyses the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the community around existing solutions and the proposed new solution.
  • Business assessment – looks at the costings, existing market and general community details (size, geography etc.).

Feasibility studies often highlight really important insights into the viability for a business and often produce unexpected results. For example, during a feasibility assessment we conducted for the Petal franchise, the organisation expected most people not to be happy to use reusable pads. In reality 85% of people would use the pads. The problem laid in the practicalities of using the pads, where only 58% were happy to dry them outside. As a result of consistent responses like this, we introduced a drying bag that enables the pads to be placed on the washing line discretely, while still being exposed to UV and drying hygienically.

WSC Collect being used

As these assessments tend to be bespoke to the business idea/programme that is being researched, WSV offers training on how to develop the feasibility assessments and how to implement them in communities. WSV can also build the assessments for you.

General business model - market research

For larger social businesses, WSV uses a lean approach to market research, where possible, getting a solution to the market as soon as possible to get feedback from actual customers. The solution can then be built by working with the end user.

For more information on the market research WSV does, get in contact!



The most important aspect of any market assessments is the analysis of the results and how best to look for opportunities. Depending on the type of market analysis WSV offers:

  • Training on how to analyse the results, focussing on:
    • General data analysis techniques and templates
    • Understanding the needs from the community
    • Do the numbers work – building basic financial models
  • Tools that do automatic analysis of data (useful when a market assessment is going to be repeated many times for scale)
  • Analysis of the results by the WSV team, including:
    • Developing financial models
    • Suggesting possible interventions and support if required in implementing those.

If you want to learn more about WSV can support, you in developing and implement market assessments, for creating social enterprises from both existing programmes and in developing new social enterprises, then get in touch!

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