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Annual report 2015: CBI triples target for new export turnover

Women in greenhouse carrying large bunches of flowers

The Netherlands’ Centre for the Promotion of imports from developing countries (CBI) more than tripled its target in terms of increased export turnover for businesses in developing countries participating in its programmes. Many of these small to medium-sized enterprises also improved their social and environmental performance, the agency states in its Annual Report 2015. The increase in exports, largely to Europe, contributed to 90,000 new, paid jobs for people in developing countries.

The CBI Annual Report 2015 was published online this July.

In 2015 CBI had 29 integrated country and sector programmes in 38 developing countries throughout 2015. The focus was on export coaching for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), strengthening public and private business support organisations (BSOs) and enabling entire sectors to become more competitive on European and global markets. CBI offered training, strategic conferences, on-site technical assistance, match-making and market intelligence services to both SMEs and BSOs.

A stunning 183 million euros export turnover

An initial target in 2015 was set to help participating entrepreneurs worldwide generate 60 million euros of export turnover – in addition to their existing turnover. By year’s end the total export turnover increase turned out to be 183 million euros. Alongside these increased exports, the companies in CBI’s programmes reported an increase of 10% in employment, reaching 90,000 jobs in total. That means an income for 90,000 people in developing countries – more than half of them women and many with families. CBI’s 2015 budget was around 25 million euros.

World-class results despite internal challenges

These encouraging results were achieved by an improved measurement, consisting of a better certified response, but against a backdrop of major internal challenges for CBI. Having worked hard in 2014 to prepare for the agency’s final integration in the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. Beginning to benefit from new synergies with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency took extra time and effort, placing severe pressure on resources. Max Timmerman, CBI’s Managing Director: ‘Having only taken the director’s office in mid-2014, I was amazed by how our staff rose above all the back-office turmoil to deliver absolute world-class results.’

A focus on LDCs means tougher field conditions

The field conditions in which CBI operates became tougher last year. CBI follows the policy of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs by narrowing down its target countries. CBI now focusses more specifically on the world’s least developed countries (LDCs). Timmerman: ‘We moved deeper out into the field. The tougher the country in economic terms, the more eager our Minister is to send CBI there. We appreciate the recognition; it’s like being promoted to the highest league.’