Third Subsistence Marketplaces Bottom-Up Immersion Conference

May 21 - 24, 2024
Casablanca, Morocco


Application Process: All applicants must submit an application; those wishing to present research have the option to submit an abstract.

Application Deadline: November 15, 2023
Applications will be processed periodically as they are received. Acceptance is subject to constraints on maximum capacity.

Participant Expectations: Participants will be assigned to tracks based on interests shared in the application process. Field visits, based on track assignments, are required; research presentations, with prior approval, are optional.

Application Deadline: December 15, 2023
Registration must be complete, including payment of non-refundable conference fee.

Estimated Registration Fee: Conference registration fees are expected to be in the vicinity of $500 with 50% discount for students and participants who reside in African countries.

Conference Co-Chairs

Delphine Godefroit-Winkel
TBS Business School, Morocco

Aronté Bennett
Villanova University, USA

Samanthika Gallage
University of Nottingham, UK

Conference Director

Madhu Viswanathan
Loyola Marymount University, USA

Conference Description

The stream of subsistence marketplaces has pioneered a unique, bottom-up approach to research, education, and practice at the intersection of poverty and marketplaces. Building on seven biennial conferences, two immersion conferences, and four virtual conferences in the last 17+ years and accompanying publications, we now announce the third immersion conference on subsistence marketplaces, previously scheduled before the pandemic. True to the bottom-up approach that characterizes the subsistence marketplaces stream, this conference is envisioned to take place in different continents over time, thus providing an opportunity for researchers, educators, practitioners, and students to engage directly with urban and rural subsistence marketplaces through conversations and observations.

Our third immersion conference will be held in Casablanca, Morocco, with field visits in rural, semi-urban, and urban settings, as well as social enterprises and businesses. It will also combine aspects of virtual and in-person conferences in having a call for paper submissions. The participants will meet at Toulouse Business School (TBS), Casablanca Campus, for paper presentations, debriefs, and after-field visits.

Why is this conference unique?

This is a bottom-up immersion conference. What this means is that we emphasize field interactions. If we are truly bottom-up in the subsistence marketplaces stream, then our forums should push further and are spent in the field as well, gaining bottom-up insights.

What this conference is NOT

This conference is not a forum for conducting research, which, of course, requires a variety of procedures and formalities. Therefore, the focus instead is on field interactions, which are intended to stimulate discussion but do not constitute the basis for any formal research.

Background Information

For more than 15 years, the Subsistence Marketplaces Conference Series has been a leading biennial forum for evolving and sharing research, education, and fostering best practices for social and commercial enterprises in subsistence marketplace communities.

Scholars and practitioners around the world have participated in these forums through conferences, publications, and educational initiatives, beginning with the first Subsistence Marketplaces Conference in 2006. Research by this community has appeared in a variety of outlets, sustained through a series of special issues/sections in academic journals (with more than 60 articles in conference-related special publications and many more in other outlets).

Since its origin, subsistence marketplace research has accumulated a substantial body of knowledge paralleling other approaches to poverty, such as the capabilities approach and base-of-the-pyramid research, providing unique and complementary insights.

The term “subsistence marketplaces” was deliberately coined to reflect the need to study these marketplaces across resource and literacy barriers in their own right, beyond being new markets for companies. Business and exchange happens in many different ways across the world. Such exchanges are worthy of study from the inside out as well as the outside in. The term “marketplaces” denotes this focus and emphasizes the need to understand preexisting marketplaces before designing or presuming solutions.

More information on the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative can be found at

What will happen at the conference?

We will spend much of the day in the field, then return to the TBS campus to reflect and regroup for the next day. We do so in groups or tracks with distinct interests. We remain fluid in allowing ideas from the participants and insights from the field to emerge and guide the process. Our process is bottom-up in this aspect as well, but guided by much experience, which will provide appropriate top-down structure. We will also have time allotted for paper presentations based on submissions.

Who makes this happen?

A symbiotic relationship between the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative pioneered at the University of Illinois, and extended to Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, and local social enterprises. In Casablanca 2024, the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative will collaborate with TBS Business School. This is a unique model of symbiotic academic-social enterprise and our partner entities are deeply embedded in communities, which will enable field interactions for conference participants.

What is the process leading up to the conference?

Track chairs will be responsible for leading small groups of 4-8 people organized by interest to the field with a trained translator.  We envision rural and urban visits as the venues for observations and interviews, with a period in the Spring when we align groups and encourage interactions based on interests and preferences. We aim for fluidity during the conference, for people to move between groups. We plan to seek initial preferences from each group as to what they want to see and with whom they want to interact – the latter ranging from individuals to households, communities, leaders/experts, and enterprises.

Who can apply?

We invite academics, researchers, educators, practitioners, and students who are interested in gaining firsthand experience in subsistence marketplaces. Although prior research or professional experience in subsistence marketplaces is not necessary, we expect participants to have topics related to subsistence marketplaces that they plan to pursue in their future research, education, or practice.  

How to Apply

All applicants must complete this simple form that asks the following:

  • An overview of your interests (research, education, social enterprise, business, government, other) as they relate to subsistence marketplaces.
  • An outline of how your topic enhances understanding of and well-being in subsistence marketplaces.
  • A description of how/why immersive experiences will help you develop deeper insights into your topic of interest.
  • Your prior experiences in subsistence marketplaces (if any). Note that prior experience in this area is NOT a requirement. In fact, we want to encourage those without prior experience to participate.
  • Applicants will also be requested to submit a liability waiver.

Applicants wishing to present their research at the conference must submit an abstract, in addition to the standard application.

  • Indication of interest to present should be made on standard application form.
  • Abstracts should be a maximum of 1,000 words.
  • Abstracts should be submitted to

When to apply

Applications are currently being accepted. The deadline to apply for both conference participation and research presentation is November 15, 2023.

Applications will be processed periodically as they are received. Acceptance is subject to constraints on maximum capacity

Conference Track Chairs (in progress)

Applicants interested in serving as a Track Chair should email


Conference registration fees are expected to be in the vicinity of $500 with 50% discount for students and participants who reside in African countries.

Upon acceptance, participants must complete a separate registration form and submit registration fees by December 15, 2023. The conference registration portal will open soon.

Special Issue(s)

We will have information soon on special sections/issues of journals planned from the conference submissions, which would be based on research conducted independently by authors. Our special issues/sections have appeared in a variety of journals including the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, the Journal of Business Research, the Journal of Marketing Management, and the Journal of Consumer Affairs. We also envision a special issue in the new journal, Subsistence Marketplaces. We reiterate that the conference is NOT a forum for conducting research.

More information on the Third Subsistence Marketplaces Bottom-Up Immersion Conference can be found at

What else can we do in Casablanca?

Casablanca is the Moroccan commercial capital and the largest city in the Maghreb. In Arabic, Maghreb, or “where the sun sets”, refers as well to Morocco, the full name being Al Mmalakat Al Maghribiyyah (المملكة المغربية) or “The Western Kingdom”. Morocco is looking ahead to the future. At the same time, it has a rich spiritual and educational heritage. The first university in the world was founded in Fes (AD 859), the second largest city of Morocco. Today, the University of Al Karaouin (جامعة القرويين‎) is the oldest existing university in the world.

Participants who wish to travel before or after the conference can reach Fes, Marrakech or Tangiers by train.


Applicants are encouraged to arrange lodging in Casablanca from May 20-25.

We recommend that you stay at one of these hotels in the vicinity of the meeting point each morning for field visits. Staying in other locations, such as downtown, will require you to arrange transportation to the meeting point.

Kenzi Sidi Maarouf (preferred)

  • Pick-up and Drop-Off Point Conference Travel & Field Immersions
  • 13 minute walk from TBS Business School
  • Price per night
    • Superior room – single (tax and breakfast included): 1070 dirhams/approx USD 110
    • Superior room - double (2 persons; (tax and breakfast included): 1240 dirhams/approx USD 125

Domo hotel Casablanca

  • 5 minute walk from TBS Business School
  • Alcohol is not served on premises
  • Price per night- Single Room (includes tax and breakfast): 820 dirhams/approx USD 83
  • Conference block available to reserve through Nov 2

Ibis Casa Sidi Maarouf

  • 7 minute walk from TBS Business School
  • Price per night- Single Room (tax and breakfast included): 700 dirhams/approx USD 69