Peers to Peers

Peers to peers

South-South Cooperation, it’s not really a new concept but it’s certainly making new inroads into export promotion efforts in Latin American countries. Basically, explains CBI Programme manager Erik Plaisier, South-South Cooperation (SSC) is the exchange of knowledge and experiences between exporting companies and Business Support Organisations (BSOs) in the same region.

“Organisations in developing countries usually operate in similar circumstances and can learn from one another’s first-hand experiences. This can often be more useful than experts and organisations like CBI merely transferring knowledge and experience benefits from northern Europe to developing countries,” says Plaisier.
Peers to Peers
Learning from experiences SSC has already been successfully applied in the region. For example, a group of Central American cocoa and chocolate producers, participants in CBI’s Central American agro-food programme, recently visited producers in Ecuador and were able to learn from the latter’s experiences. Robertson Carrillo of APEN, a Nicaraguan BSO, for example, said getting better prices is now one of the aspects they will focus on. Meanwhile, Lesly Castro of Honduran BSO, FIDE, insisted that the visit helped in several respects. Similarly, during a visit by Chilean BSO ProChile, to ProEcuador, the former was able to share with the latter its experiences in sector branding. In another visit, Colombian BSO ProExport shared with ProEcuador its experiences about a CBI-facilitated institutional strengthening programme. Several Latin American countries have so far been involved in this type of SSC. Plaisier is convinced that SSC will further complement the traditional support provided by CBI.
Peers to Peers
Online discussion platforms

Another area in which SSC plays a role is that of training programmes facilitated by CBI in the Netherlands. BSOs and exporting companies from many developing countries participate in these trainings. Often, they value the exchange of information, experiences and ideas between themselves as one of the most valuable aspects of them. “The same is true of the online discussion platforms that CBI has created on LinkedIn,” says Renee Boelaars, CBI’s Unit Manager Latin America. “With over 2,100 members worldwide, this platform is becoming a rich source of experiences, opinions and innovation.

CBI’s Facebook page is yet another platform on which news and information is being shared. CBI wants to keep its followers informed of what it has to share and to call its community to action by posting, sharing and responding to polls and items. “This is how knowledge can truly be created,” concludes Boelaars. “Online knowledge sharing can never replace learning by meeting people face to face, but the combination of both could make learning so much more effective.”

Peers to Peers

“We will get better prices for the Nicaraguan cocoa cooperative”

Robertson Carrillo Zeledon Asociación de Productores y Exportadores de Nicaragua (APEN)

“Visiting Ecuador gave us a better under-
standing of its production processes”

Lesly Castro FIDE, Investment and Exports,Honduras

By comparing ourselves we were pleased to learn that our quality standards are good, but we have decided to invest in flavour profiles. For this we will use the services of a laboratory in Ecuador, which has experience in this area. And thanks to links we made with other participants, mainly from Honduras, we will approach representatives of Halba Chocolates in Switzerland to get better prices for the Nicaraguan cocoa cooperative.

Visiting Ecuador and seeing the ongoing development and success of its cocoa sector gave us, as an export promotion institution, a better understanding of its production processes. It’s also helped us to identify challenges the sector currently faces in Central America, specifically in terms of quality and marketing.