Frequently Asked Questions
(1) Does my organization join MDF, or do I join as an individual?
Organizations become members of MDF. Staffs within the organizations enjoy the benefit through their organizational affiliation. However, to access the full benefit, the staffs may need to register and contact ‘MDF official representatives’ within their organization. MDF official representatives are 2/3 people within an organization, designated by the organization itself to maintain liaison. (Please see the responsibility of the official representatives)
Once staffs leave their organization, they are no longer members of MDF, unless they move into organizations which are also MDF members. In that case, they will have to register again, as their account under the previous organization will be terminated.
(2) Can my organizations become members of MDF?
MDF is a network for market development practitioners. At this point in time, we welcome development organizations, projects, local and international NGOs, consultancies and business service providers who are either implementing or are interested to take up market development approaches.
The general rule of thumb is that development organizations, projects, and local and international NGOs are ‘members’ of MDF, where as consultancies and business service providers who are involved with market development approaches are ‘associates’.
However, the EC holds to right to make the final call, as many organizations fall under both categories. Plus, there could be few exceptions as well, for example, donors are sometimes implementing partners; consultancies are sometimes running development projects.
Private companies whose core business is not providing consultancy services to the development sector can not be MDF members. However, through our events, we ensure a strong private sector engagement.
(3) How does my organization become a member?
Organizations, if they fit into the above mentioned criteria, can simply write to MDF secretariat wishing to join the forum. Once MDF sends them the application form, they need to fill it out and submit along with a brochure or booklet explaining the organization and an audited financial statement of last three years are all we need.
Upon receiving of all the documents, the EC approves of the membership.
(4) What is the time commitment?
MDF understands that member organizations have their own projects and hence it is not possible for a single person to attend a wide array of our events. Organizations can nominate different people for different activities based on interest. However, consistency required for one person to represent on specific topics. This is particularly specific for the Thematic Working Groups and events.
From the secretariat’s side, MDF can not inform everyone of its activities. Hence, member organizations are requested to assign 2-3 official representatives with who MDF will communicate. It is the responsibility of the official representatives within the member organizations to inform their colleagues.
(5) What is the responsibility of the official representatives?
MDF invites employees at every level of its member organizations to participate in programs and events, but it is difficult to communicate directly with individuals. The most important role of the official representative is to ensure that information and opportunities from MDF reach the people who would benefit from them the most in each member organization.
In general, we expect that the organizations will nominate 3 people to be their official representatives, in case one or two of them are out of town. Official representatives can be anyone within the organization but ideally we expect someone in the senior management to be one of the official representatives as he or she will have a better idea of ‘who’ to send in ‘what’ programs. For better communication back and forth, it will be a wise move if someone from the communications department is one of the official representatives. But then again, it is up to the member organization.
The responsibility of the official representative is to inform their colleagues about MDF programs and register them if anyone is interested. The official representatives could also share organization’s demands and expectations from MDF and give us suggestions based on feedback from their colleagues.
Other responsibilities of the official representatives are –
(6) So my organization is a member. What do we have to do?
MDF operates on the ownership of the members and their commitment to the forum and its activities. It has been decided that in order to stimulate greater commitment from all stakeholders, all regular members should be signatories to the MDF MoU. Each regular member of the MDF is required to sign the MoU referring to the commitment of all members of the MDF to undertake the following activities proactively:
(7) What are the benefits of joining MDF?
MDF is a knowledge sharing platform that aims to drive the sector by allowing networking opportunities among the practitioners and by providing a learning environment through its activities. While the entire industry can benefit from the work done through MDF, member organizations enjoy additional benefits.
A MDF membership increases credibility with donors, and other development partners. Contributing members to a particular theme or topic will be recognized as it is disseminated.
Access to exclusive resources and forum
Members have exclusive use of some website functionalities, such featured discussions and closed-group discussion. They can also access reports and studies of other organizations in the ‘resource’ section in the website. Members are invited to exclusive meetings participated by senior management of development partners such as donors and other INGOs, which is very important both on a personal and professional level.
Reduced registration to MDF events
MDF offers all members and associates discounted rates to its event, be it a training or a workshop or a fieldtrip. Although it depends on the host organization, we have seen number of times that they waive full/partial fee for other MDF members. In return, MDF promotes their activities and gets a pool of participants.
MDF is also currently in discussion with international networks and training centers to win subsidized registration rates for its member organizations.
Ability to shape the learning agenda
Members set the agenda for MDF based on the challenges and opportunities they face in the field. Members create and lead working groups, while MDF provides facilitation. Members impact MDF governance through member-only events where they provide feedback on MDF strategy and vote for the board of directors. In short, Members decide MDF agenda whereas MDF facilitates through workspace, networking & expert leadership.
Great professional development opportunities
An MDF membership provides your staff excellent professional development opportunities through peer-to-peer learning activities, networking events, visibility in the industry, and opportunities to take a leadership role in the development of our learning agenda. Practitioners learn best practices that can be applied to their daily work to meet organizational objectives. MDF cultivates partnerships that benefit both parties through pooling of resources, positions & expertise.
(8) How much are the membership dues?
MDF believes a membership fee ensures active engagement with the members. Instead of having a long list of dormant members, MDF would like to work with pro-active members, no matter how small the number is. And from experience, MDF finds a free membership is a barrier to a strong and engaging community.
Hence, MDF has decided to charge a one-off registration fee of BDT 10,000 for any organization. Yearly membership is classified into two – (1) BDT 40,000 for development projects, organizations, and international and local NGOs and (2) BDT 20,000 for consultancies, business service providers.
Annual membership will follow January to December cycle, and needs to be paid by January 31st. A late fee of 5,000 will be charged after that until February 28. Membership will be suspended if payment is not cleared by then, cancelled automatically after a year. Once the membership is suspended, MDF will take them off from their database and hence they will not receive any sort of benefit and information. Should the organizations wish to be members again, they need to pay the registration fee again (BDT 10,000), in addition to the yearly membership fee. MDF receives this money to partially fund the secretariat, not to run any project. MDF is committed to ensuring maximum benefit for the organizations.
Please note that for the rest of the 2013, the one-off registration fee of BDT 10,000 would allow you full membership until December 31. This registration fee does not cover any MDF event.
(9) Is MDF only a ‘talk shop’, or does it do anything more?
MDF does not mind being called a ‘talkshop’, as talking, and for that matter learning and knowledge sharing holds a significant place in the development spectrum. New opportunities, strategies, partnerships come through these learning and sharing events and MDF is proud to be the only network for market development practitioners.
However, MDF does more than ‘learning and knowledge sharing’! And the details of it could be found in the logframe.
(10) Does MDF help partnering?
MDF does not get forge ‘formal partnerships’, however MDF encourages partnering through different events such as seminars and workshops. MDF brings both development practitioners and private sector together and one such event was the Agri-business Supply Chain Workshop. With the help of Business Innovation Facility (BIF) and CARE Bangladesh, MDF coordinated a 2-day workshop where private sector and development professionals came together to find partnering opportunities.
Besides this, MDF has an instrumental vehicle called the ‘innovation fund’, which directly asks bidding proposals to have strong public-private partnership initiatives as one of the selection criteria.
Interestingly, MDF is aware that many ‘formal partnerships’ are taking place through MDF events such as group discussions and fieldtrips but unfortunately, since it does not have the capacity to monitor, MDF cannot attribute those formal partnerships as if its own!
(11) Can MDF help organize any event/workshop/ this or that?
MDF gets this kind of requests every other week, from members and non-members, even from the private sector. For them and for everyone else, MDF is strictly members-driven and members-led. MDF can only coordinate but NOT organize an event on behalf of the members. This is due to the Executive Committee’s agreement to keep MDF a small secretariat. If MDF starts taking on additional responsibility such as organizing event, it will soon need more staffs and therefore more money to funds those staffs. If that is the case, soon after, MDF will start applying for a big sum from donors which would be all doom and gloom for the organization.
As per the current status quo, MDF does not have any fund to organize any event. Any member wishing to run any event under MDF banner needs to keep this in mind. Requests from non-MDF members will be directed to members and if any of them are willing to lead such events, MDF can come in, otherwise not.