Direct Sales Agent Models: Adapting the Agent Model to be More Inclusive and Effective for the Agricultural Sector


For more than a decade, development programs have partnered with the private sector to adopt direct sales agent (DSA) models – like those made famous by Avon and mobile network operators – to serve different sectors (e.g. agriculture, energy, health) and markets (e.g. rural, peri-urban). Results, however, have been mixed. Modifying DSA models to serve a different market segment can be challenging for development programs as research shows that the model is best suited for established, yet underserved markets with easily accessible and knowledgeable customers, which are not features of most development environments.

The purpose of this brief is to identify practical design considerations for inclusive agricultural DSA models. The brief draws from recent research on DSA models from Indonesia and Ghana, and in particular recommendations from the foundational 2010 SHOPS study, which examined DSA models in the health sector that are easily adapted to the agricultural sector.


Senior Consultant

I work across markets, business and supply chains, impact investing, agriculture, and women’s economic empowerment. I am an experienced monitoring, evaluation, research and learning consultant and project manager with expertise in the use of mixed methods, theory-based approaches and data collection and analysis. I have been working in M&E for market systems development for 10 years now, and going strong.