Local and international companies are already making a significant contribution to sustainable global development. According to the OECD, they generate up to 60 percent of GDP, 80 percent of capital flows and 90 percent of jobs in the poorer regions of the world. So that the economy can also contribute to overcoming global challenges in the context of development cooperation, points of contact must be identified. Exactly for this reason the German Society for International Cooperation GIZ the matchmaking platform on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development BMZ leverist.de brought to life. Since 2019, the platform has been showing business opportunities that arise in the context of development projects or from the needs in developing countries.
Leverist.de: Gateway to development projects
With Leverist, GIZ is likely to have found a practicable way of actively persuading business to solve global problems and accelerating private sector engagement - a concern that is now shared by all major development actors and for which more and more of them are revising their practices and methods. According to the OECD, the most important thing is to build trust, reduce risks and create meaningful incentives. the Austrian Development Agency cooperates with the private sector, which is becoming an increasingly important partner, especially through Business partnerships.
“The idea of a Business to Development Cooperation B2DC platform came about because, on the one hand, the projects implemented by GIZ are increasingly looking for partners from the private sector,” explains Cora Bay, project manager at Leverist.
“On the other hand, we have been informed by many companies that they would be interested in working together, but do not know where there are docking options.” With more than 20.000 employees worldwide, GIZ implements more than a thousand projects in a wide variety of sectors and countries. The B2DC platform now gives companies transparent access to it.
Various prototypes, feedback loops and iterations later, Leverist is now in the growth phase after successful piloting. "We are anchoring the platform more and more in our structures in order to inquire about business opportunities as widely as possible," said Bay.
Leverist.de: Offers for all industries
The advertisements on Leverist form a colorful spectrum of opportunities for cooperation between business and development cooperation. From consulting services and product searches to events and tenders, everything is represented.
There are currently almost 200 business opportunities on offer in more than 50 countries in a wide variety of sectors - from agriculture and energy to logistics and information and communication technology to tourism and the textile industry. The platform is also looking for providers of services such as consulting, training and R&D. A drop-down menu allows filtering by country and sector.
In the Uzbek agricultural sector, for example, corporate partners are sought to modernize mushroom production as part of a develoPPP partnership. Since the local demand for mushroom species has increased tenfold since 2010, there is a potentially secure sales market for companies venturing into the country. In Ecuador, on the other hand, the operators of sustainable tourism projects are on the lookout for European partners for long-term business relationships.
As the counter on the homepage reveals, a good thousand companies have registered on leverist.de to date. Around 60 percent of those interested come from the EU, almost two thirds of them are SMEs. Bay hopes the platform will become better known soon. More than 400 matches already confirm the effectiveness and the potential. Bay sums up: "This means that companies have discovered exciting business opportunities in developing and emerging countries via the platform and contacted the responsible GIZ colleagues."
Leverist.de: Successfully matched
One of the 400 successful matches went in favor of Ecologicon, a German consulting service provider and developer of solutions for decentralized waste management. He managed to find his way to India through an advertisement on leverist.de. The company made contact based on the advertisement, won a tender among the interested companies and is now supporting a GIZ waste management project in three Indian cities.
Project manager Markus Luecke says about the advantages that companies enjoy in the context of such development projects: “In India, it is extremely helpful for companies if they have direct access to the local authorities. If there are business opportunities in the context of our project, we can establish this connection to the public sector. ”A start-up that was also“ matched ”via Leverist is also supporting a similar project in Jordan. Vanesa Rodriguez had posted the ad on leverist.de to get in touch with start-ups and technology providers in the waste and recycling industry. Rodriguez is a technical advisor at GIZ and is implementing a global project on behalf of the German Ministry of the Environment, ranging from circular economy to environmentally friendly mobility.
Consulting network as an add-on
An important source of advertisements about business opportunities at Leverist is the recently established advisory network of Business Scouts for Development BSfD. For example, information on various business opportunities in Namibia - from upgrading an e-learning course to exporting handicrafts to improving SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic capacities - comes from the pen of long-time GIZ employee Christina Pfandl. She is one of a total of around 80 business scouts who work in Germany themselves as well as locally in the industry associations, chambers or GIZ foreign offices of 40 partner countries.
The main task of the Business Scouts for Development is to inform European as well as companies in the partner countries about funding, financing and cooperation offers at the interface between development cooperation and foreign trade, to mediate potential business partners and thus to support companies in entering new markets. The advisory service is based on years of experience, because German development cooperation has been providing experts to chambers of commerce abroad (AHK) and delegations from German business since 2011.
The entire advisory network is accessible via Leverist. Companies that want to obtain industry expertise regardless of a specific business opportunity can contact the responsible business scouts directly via the platform, even without being a member of the AHK or an industry association. This can be a valuable support especially for small and medium-sized companies. As a 2019 study by the Austrian Chamber of Commerce on Sub-Saharan Africa showed, the lack of access to relevant market information and a lack of a local network are among the main market entry barriers for Austrian companies without their own on-site structure.
“With our know-how and our local structures, we can make it easier for companies to enter the market - especially if they do not know the context themselves or do not have a local network. This enables us to absorb certain risks and, in particular, encourage SMEs to enter developing and emerging markets, ”emphasizes Pfandl. In addition, the Business Scouts offer development policy advice for almost all business opportunities published on leverist.de.
Leverist.de: Approaching each other
There's a lot going on behind the scenes at Leverist right now. Many of the processes are currently being scaled or automated. In addition, the five-person team focuses its work in particular on making the added value of cooperation with development cooperation tangible for companies, addressing company-relevant aspects and adequately formulating business opportunities. “We have to learn to speak the language of the company a little better and to pay attention to the business level as well as the development aspect. Of course, we need a certain change of perspective on our part, ”says project manager Bay. Leverist also receives support from business so that the development needs can be converted into attractive offers for companies.
Leverist is only at the beginning, project manager Bay has no doubt about that. But she is convinced that the platform has the potential to gradually become a key development policy door opener for entry into new markets, “so that even more development challenges can be solved in partnership with the private sector in the future”.
Images: Goldene Embassy GmbH, screenshots from Leverist.de