01 oktober 2005
Joint Business Platform assists Dutch Christian relief work
Tear Fund, ZOA Refugee Care and Woord en Daad each already have a separate group of companies, contributing money, expertise and advice to SME-projects in developing countries. By combining forces in a joint Business Platform, they hope to create "growth and synergy". Harry Verwaaijen, account manager Business Relations of ZOA: "Together we have some one hundred entrepreneurs, participating in economic activities in the South. We can now share ideas, experiences and projects, trying to accelerate economic activity in poor regions."
The knowledge of entrepreneurs is of great value to aid organisations, argues Verwaaijen. "Entrepreneurship is quite different from aid. We, the aid organisations, know the local people and know their needs. We have a tendency to help as many people as possible, even if it is just slightly. But entrepreneurs have an eye for 'the best chances', and rather concentrate on one viable initiative in a specific village than on a broad-based concept. On the other hand, we know what is realistic in a certain region, so in working together we keep each other sharp."
Verwaaijen has recently returned from a mission with some Dutch entrepreneurs to Southeast Asia. In Sri Lanka they visited Mannar, a region that is badly in need of economic activity, since many refugees are returning after a truce has ended the civil war. There are good perspectives for agricultural products like beans, spinach, carrots, bananas, mangos, papaya and ginger. But to really upscale production and export possibilities, the farmers need good quality seeds and will have to learn how to market their products. Verwaaijen: "In consultation with the farmers and with the advice of the Dutch entrepreneurs we have decided to found a cooperation with a strong marketing structure. In creating the management and marketing of this cooperation the expertise of the businessmen comes in very handy."
The associated entrepreneurs of the three Christian aid organisations will meet twice a year to exchange ideas and experiences. The experiment will have to show tangible results in two years. If not, each of them will go their separate ways.
P+ Webtip: Business Platform