Boosting SME Development in Southeast Asia

The Netherlands-based Centre for the Promotion of Imports (CBI) from developing countries in the European Union is currently preparing a program for the food ingredients sector. Not only are the program and the sector new, the CBI is adopting a new integrated, tailor-made approach, based on consultations with small and medium enterprises in Southeast Asia.

For decades CBI has supported large numbers of companies and business support organizations, such as chambers of commerce and trade development centers, and has promoted imports from a wide variety of sectors. But the food ingredients sector had not been covered in recent years.

With the support of the Royal Tropical Institute, a number of value chains in Vietnam, The Philippines and Indonesia were pre-selected. These included herbs and spices, processed fruits, edible nuts, coffee and cocoa.

As input for the program, Strategic Conferences in the three countries were then held in December 2011. Prepared and facilitated by Aidenvironment, the conferences revolved around the central question of how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Vietnam, The Philippines and Indonesia could benefit from CBI support. Which value chains have the most potential for SME development in the three countries and how does this relate to the anticipated demand in the EU? What are the main bottlenecks and in what ways can CBI effectively help companies and business support organizations to overcome these?

More than in past programs, the CBI will adopt an integrated, tailor-made approach. There are high hopes that this approach will do justice to the major differences between the three countries and value chains.

By and large, local companies were found to be particularly keen on export coaching (including business audits and export capacity building) and market intelligence activities. The program is still in the process of being formulated, and is expected to be finalized in March.

Photograph Erik Wakker (Aidenvironment).

For more information contact Peter de Haan.