How to build bridges between business & civil society

September 9, 2013

In collaboration with various civil society organisations and Hivos, the Dutch Foreign Ministry (Social Development Department) has published a brochure on the added value of civil society organisations (CSOs) in private sector development.  It’s none of your business! Or is it? shows how to build bridges between civil society and the business community, taking their shared interests as a starting point.

Promoting inclusive economic growth that offers socio-economic opportunities for all is central to the Netherlands’ foreign trade and development policy. In pursuing inclusive and sustainable economic growth, it is crucial that all stakeholders work together and civil society organisations play an essential role in this endeavour.  The traditional role of civil society as ‘watchdogs’ that keep businesses and governments on track, makes us sometimes forget that they can also act as valuable partners of the same companies and governments.

It’s none of your business! Or is it? uses examples of innovative approaches to describe the facilitating roles that civil society can play in partnerships with the Dutch private sector to do fair and sustainable business in developing countries. Hivos was invited to contribute to this brochure by sharing its experiences and insights in the field of private sector development and cooperation with private actors in development initiatives.

Hivos’ Green Entrepreneurship (GE) Programme is mentioned in Chapter 3, which focuses on facilitating access to financial services.

The GE Programme supports SMEs and has organised small-scale producers in rural areas using the graduation model which has been successfully used to build microfinance institutions (MFIs).  With the graduation model, a combination of seed capital and technical assistance is provided to strengthen emerging MFIs, which are not yet attractive clients for the capital market.

Once an MFI has grown strong enough and has managed to reduce its risks, it can access funds from the Hivos-Triodos Fund or similar funds until it can eventually be financed by the capital market. By providing seed capital and technical assistance, Hivos helps create effective demand for commercial financing, as it reduces the risks and cost for the capital market. In the same way, seed capital and technical assistance enable producer organisations and SMEs with small-scale producers as suppliers to become interesting clients for the larger private sector. In the case of Hivos these producers are key agents in addressing poverty, climate change, and food security issues in rural areas.

This programme illustrates that successful innovative approaches exist to promote inclusive private sector development, and that Hivos is eager to explore non-traditional and market-oriented ways to stimulate inclusive economic growth. 

 It’s none of your business! Or is it? aims to inspire public and private actors to engage in innovative partnerships in order to contribute to inclusive and sustainable growth and development.

You can download the brochure from the ‘Documents’ box in the right sidebar. The brochure can also be found on the digital platform www.ondernemeninontwikkelingslanden.nl (in Dutch), which was set up by representatives of Dutch small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and CSOs with support from the Dutch Foreign Ministry.