CBI
CBI
Integration

Developing
cooperation

In January 2015 CBI became part of RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency). CBI Managing Director Max Timmerman and Robert Dijksterhuis, board member International Programmes at RVO, share their thoughts on the ongoing integration process, insisting that it’s not the end of CBI, far from it. The value CBI has built in its 44 years of expanding trade through aid worldwide is an asset highly prized by both its foreign partners and the Dutch government. A Vietnamese trade mission recently received by Timmerman, for example, specifically requested the meeting with CBI.

Integration

Dijksterhuis, whose 141-strong team now includes 58 CBI staff, has prepared what he calls “an elevator pitch-type presentation” for a delegation of visitors from Indonesia, in which CBI’s and RVO’s activities have been integrated. “Since we are both concerned with the development of the private sector in developing countries, there is ample opportunity to collaborate,” he explains. “RVO doesn’t just focus on Dutch companies. Our investment support programme, for example, has more than 30 per cent non-Dutch projects.”

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Robert Dijksterhuis insists that irrespective of whether you are a home-grown company or not, you always have to deal with the local business climate.

Integration

Dijksterhuis’ International Development division has teams specialising in entrepreneurship, water management, renewable energy and infrastructure and its business development coaches have the broader brief of improving a developing country’s business climate, which can benefit CBI. Timmerman mentions that financial assistance is an area that’s well suited to collaboration with RVO. “Many of the companies we work with need not only technical support, but also assistance in the financial and investment spheres. We will join forces to develop these areas.”

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CBI Managing Director Max Timmerman sees the integration of the back office administration, human resources and IT as a culture shock for CBI staff.

Integration

It certainly helps CBI-RVO synergy that Minister Lilianne Ploumen is responsible for both foreign trade and development cooperation. Timmerman thinks the minister addresses her dual responsibilities very even-handedly, without closing her eyes to the fact that nations like Brazil and India have become middle-income countries. The two men agree that there’s a definite move from aid to trade. Dijksterhuis: “Three decades ago, developing countries had a different set of support questions than they do now. Working on private sector development, we have to be aligned with global developments.”

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The Netherlands’ Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen (right), shares a moment with ITC Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez during a recent visit to CBI. Minister Ploumen has stipulated that at least half of all technical assistance provided by CBI should go to low-income countries.

Integration

Both men have a good idea of where they’d like the integration process to be in 12 months. The integration of the back office administration, human resources and IT heads Dijksterhuis’ list. “I’ll be happy if by the end of the year the back office is working well and if everyone understands why at RVO we do things the way we do,” he says. Timmerman, meanwhile, already requires CBI managers to include a paragraph about the integration with RVO in all new business cases. “If I have three such cases on my desk within a year, I’ll know we’re heading in the right direction.”

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