Collaboration between PUM (a senior Dutch managers association) and CBI started several years ago, explains Melanie van der Baaren-Haga, CBI Programme Manager for Latin America and Asia. “We have similar target groups and some shared activities, but because we lacked a shared strategy we always thought that more should be possible.” Since late 2014, when both organisations endorsed an MoU to extend their cooperation until 2018, it surely will.
Part of the strategy for this new cooperative phase is the introduction of 11 new sector projects for CBI’s Export Coaching Programmes (ECPs) in Colombia and Peru. During the pre-selection phase of these new CBI projects, PUM will offer a list of companies in Columbia and Peru they worked with in the past and the lessons learned.
Sharing responsibility certainly has its merits, says Alex Meerkerk, Analysis and Monitoring Manager at PUM. “Previously, for example, an SME requiring PUM expert services, had to pay accommodation costs, resulting in shorter stays.” It has now been agreed that PUM and CBI will finance experts’ accommodation costs.
CBI also refers companies that aren’t quite ready to enter ECPs to PUM. “Some of these SMEs need to cover the business basics before moving up the ladder,” offers Meerkerk. “Many of the ones we assist are then eventually admitted to CBI’s ECPs.”
Van der Baaren-Haga feels the agreement needs a clear focus. Many of PUM’s experts are volunteers and retirees and for maximum synergy CBI and PUM must be on the same level. “We must ensure that the market knowledge of PUM experts is up to date and that briefing and debriefing happens accordingly. That way we can be sure that CBI and PUM experts who visit SMEs are equally well informed,” she says.
Meerkerk and Van der Baaren-Haga are confident that their organisations’ continued collaboration will have great impact. “By joining forces the objective is to achieve better results with the same budget,” reasons Van der Baaren-Haga. “It all looks promising, and the pilots we will run are a first step in making our partnership work.” To measure that impact CBI and PUM, together with several research institutes, are currently running a project called PRIME. It involves five years of research, methodology development and data collection from many Business Support Organisations in developing countries. “It’s an excellent way of measuring our results and making sure we’re on the right track,” concludes Meerkerk.> Read the full article