Business Development Services (BDS) programmes have become big business for internationaldonors and NGOs. Focusing on small enterprises in developing countries, the current BDSapproach assumes that the development of commercial markets is the key to success. Yetmany of these programmes continue to have a limited impact. A review of modern theoriesof innovation and services marketing management suggests that this may be because currentBDS support practice reflects a rather limited understanding of how new markets actuallydevelop. Drawing on the insights that these theories offer, the authors suggest that BDS practiceshould develop a more evolutionary approach, recognising that service innovations developthrough active, on-going interaction between suppliers and customers. The article concludeswith practical policy guidelines and a discussion about tools that could help BDS to adoptthis more successful approach.