In 2012 CBI started collaborating with PRO ECUADOR, Ecuador’s National Trade Promotion Organisation, with a programme that the Ecuadorian government is funding. Erik Plaisier, CBI Senior Programme Manager for Latin America, explains that a benefit of the PRO ECUADOR agreement is that Ecuador can continue to rely on CBI’s expertise, while standing on its own two feet. “But given that PRO ECUADOR now directly commissions CBI for advice, they are more in control and are entitled to expect more from us.”
Eva Smulders, CBI Programme Manager and responsible for providing CBI support to Ecuadorian SMEs, identifies two major advantages of the agreement. Firstly, because Ecuadorian business is being promoted globally, it allows CBI to acquire experience in markets other than Europe. Secondly, PRO ECUADOR has assumed responsibility for the practical side of SME development, including organising trade fair participation, matchmaking events, and technical support for all project activities. This frees up CBI to focus on Market Intelligence research, advise PRO ECUADOR, further exploit its excellent network and recruit international and local experts.
Since the start of the programme Plaisier has definitely noticed improvements, especially with the local support the Ecuadorian government offers SMEs. Rosa Nelly Castro Varas, Monitoring and Evaluation Analyst at PRO ECUADOR, agrees because she’s getting excellent feedback from clients: “Judging from surveys and testimonials, SMEs are very satisfied and they are experiencing continuous improvements in product quality and their current market positioning,” she says.
Other countries interested in an agreement like the one in Ecuador and that have approached CBI include Panama and Costa Rica, adds Smulders. But of all the potential candidates in Latin American Plaisier thinks that Colombia and Peru best fit the bill: “They have the necessary resources and are also likely to soon exit CBI’s list of assisted countries.”
In addition to the 65 Ecuadorian SMEs supported in the Seafood, Flower, Cocoa and Coffee sectors, Smulders hopes that CBI will get another 65 companies on board later this year, from sectors that include Natural Ingredients and Fresh Fruit. So the future certainly looks bright for countries like Ecuador that want to become more independent and for CBI to keep on supporting SMEs in Latin America. “In our ongoing projects we already rely more on local organisations like PROMPERU and PRO COLOMBIA,” concludes Plaisier, “so perhaps the PRO ECUADOR agreement is just the beginning.> Read the full article