For an introduction on Exchange in Vietnamese, please go to this page.
A new approach to development cooperation
Successful entrepreneurship? That is thé most sustainable and powerful way to tackle poverty. However, in order to become a successful entrepreneur, knowledge is crucial. That is exactly why Exchange facilitates the exchange of knowledge between entrepreneurs and professionals in the North and the South. In doing so, our organisation empowers companies in developing economies and creates measurable growth for them.
The needs of companies in the South
Entrepreneurs and socio-economic organisations from the South approach Exchange with various issues. Some examples:
- “Our company is growing fast, but we are lacking a long-term vision. How can we develop a growth strategy?”
- “We need better hygiene in our production space. Who can help us introduce new hygienic standards?”
- “It is clear that our staff management needs to be improved. But how can we deal with these HR challenges?”
- "The local market seems to be saturated at first sight. Am I ready to export now? And where? What are the quality conditions? Inco terms…”
- “Our machinery needs replacing. Unfortunately, we do not know which supplier to approach and how to draw up specifications. Can Exchange offer support?”
- “The products we manufacture are of good quality. However, distributors do not find us. How can we improve our marketing?”
- "Our bakery’s range of products is limited. Therefore, we want to learn different recipes and baking techniques in order to attract new customers."
- "Until now, our bookkeeping has been informal. This is no longer allowed. Can a Financial expert help us to professionalize our accounting?"
- "Our government regularly calls for tenders for the supply of furniture. Unfortunately, national furniture suppliers never manage to win a contract. What should we do to become more competitive with international players?"
These questions perfectly illustrate the needs to which Exchange can offer an answer. Does the application fulfil our selection criteria? Then we search for a suitable expert who can assist the applicant. After the expert has been accepted (it is the entrepreneur in the South who decides), Exchange sends out this volunteer. Both entrepreneurs will then take up the challenge together, as equal partners.
A true volunteer organisation
Without volunteers, Exchange would not exist. All our experts offer their knowledge for free. In addition to those experts who go and share their knowledge in the South, Exchange has a dedicated team of coordinators. These are in close contact with networks both in Belgium and in the South.
Steep growth curve
The foundations for Exchange were laid around the turn of the century by “founding father” Karel Huysmans. Also Senior Consultants Vlaanderen (SCV) and the Vlaamse Ingenieurskamer (VIK) were the cornerstones of the organisation. Together with Boerenbond, ETION, Incofin, Kauri, Unizo, VOKA and Leo Antonissen, Frans Florquin, Wim Harkx, Herman Van de Velde, Honorary Chairman Karel Huysmans and current President Dirk Vyncke, they were the founding members on November 26, 2001.
In the meantime, Exchange has become a non-profit organisation with over 1.000 candidate experts and sympathisers who carry out more than 200 projects every year.
Why support private entrepreneurship?
It goes without saying that the private sector in market economies is the driving force behind economic growth. That is why organisations such as UNCTAD and the OECD have been working hard for years to support developing economies in this sector. A thriving private market also guarantees more jobs, a better standard of living and income, more investment capacity for the government and increased access to goods and services. These are precisely the means needed to save more people from poverty.
"The first obvious point is that, in market economies, the private sector has an instrumental role in generating economic growth. Expanding private sector markets can generate employment, livelihoods, incomes, public spending and accessible goods and services - making them centrally important to the pro-poor growth story. Through interacting with dynamic markets large numbers of people can successfully and very rapidly exit poverty."