FAQ

 

Who is Exchange?

Exchange vzw is a Flemish Belgian non-profit organisation specialised in sending volunteer experts to developing countries in order to carry out short-term expertise projects (1 to 4 weeks).

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Which goal does Exchange pursue?

Private entrepreneurship is a primary ingredient for economic development. By offering companies high-level expertise, Exchange plays a role in their expansion and their permanence. This improves the situation of the companies’ employees, their families as well as the government.

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How is Exchange organised?

A central team operates from our head office in Wilrijk (Antwerp), tending to the daily responsibilities. In the North, they are assisted by voluntary Country and Sector Coordinators. In the South, more than 40 local representatives are active in Exchange’s target countries. In addition to this, Exchange has a database of over 1.000 voluntary candidate experts.

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To whom do we address ourselves?

70% of our projects focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Besides that, our projects also focus on organisations such as cooperatives, chambers of commerce, umbrella organisations, federations of enterprises, professional associations, etc. These SMEs and organisations have true growth potential but insufficient resources to pay for an international expert.

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Which types of projects do we carry out?

Below you find, by way of example, the different types of projects we are able to carry out:

  • Technical: improvement of a procedure, quality improvement, advice on investments;
  • Organisation: restructuring of a company, reorientation of activities;
  • Management: drawing up a Business Plan or Investment Plans;
  • Education: staff training, train-the-trainer programmes.

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 Which types of projects do we not carry out?

The following types of projects are beyond our scope of activities:

  • temporary replacement of a manager or an employee who is absent;
  • financing of social or other projects;
  • issue of micro credits;
  • delivery of materials;
  • student education;
  • long-term projects.

In any case, we do not want to enter into competition with local experts whatsoever.

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Which are the selection criteria of an application?

The SMEs have to:

  • exist for more than 2 years;
  • have an annual income between 25.000 and 500.000 EUR;
  • employ more than 10 people;
  • be officially registered.

For other organisations, we analyse their structure and especially the number of final beneficiaries.

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Which applications are not accepted?

We do not accept applications that do not comply with our criteria or our philosophy. Examples:

  • Applications from SMEs or organisations that do not possess sufficient financial resources to pay for the expenses incurred (meals, accommodation and local transport of the experts)
  • Applications - from schools, from hospitals (exception: applications for hospital management), from social organisations: (orphanages, street children, social welfare, etc.).
  • Applications related to the exploitation of natural resources (minerals, precious stones, petrol, gas, etc.).
  • Applications related to unethical activities (exploitation of workers, child labour, arms, drugs or people trafficking, …)

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How many projects can be allocated to one and the same applicant?

We allocate a maximum of 4 projects to each applicant. There has to be a 6-month time lapse between each project and it is necessary that the recommendations of the previous project have been implemented.

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How are the expenses divided?

  • General rule: ⋅ The project organisation expenses (estimated at 5,000 EUR on average), comprising the various expenses of the experts (insurance, visa, vaccinations, briefing, debriefing…), the management expenses of the organisation and the flight tickets are paid by Exchange.
  • The local expenses, comprising accommodation costs, all meals and drinks and local transport are always paid by the applicant.
  • The experts do not receive any salaries, nor any allowances. Attention: If the SME or organisation has sufficient resources or if it has previously benefited from our expertise, we will ask, depending on the case, a larger contribution (see details below).

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How much can the additional financial contribution be?

In the case of an SME: Besides the above-mentioned local expenses, the SME can be asked to pay the following additional expenses:

Yearly income between
25,000 and 25,000 EUR
Yearly income between
250,000 and 500,000 EUR
Yearly income between
500,000 and 5,000,000 EUR
1st project --- --- 5,000 EUR
2nd project --- Flight ticket 5,000 EUR
3rd project Flight ticket 2,500 EUR 5,000 EUR
4th project 2,500 EUR 5,000 EUR 5,000 EUR

In the case of an organisation supported by an NGO:

  • If the applicant is supported by an NGO in the North, this NGO will be asked to pay half of the expenses related to a project, i.e. 2,500 EUR, for each project.
  • If the applicant is supported by a local NGO, the contribution will be calculated on the basis of the financial situation, the number of beneficiaries, etc. How are the expenses divided for a multi-beneficiary project? Sometimes, one and the same expert carries out the same project simultaneously for different applicants (e.g. train-the-trainer projects) or one and the same expert carries out different projects consecutively during one mission. In this case, local expenses and – depending on the case – any additional expenses, are of course equally divided between the applicants.

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What is the procedure for new projects?

  1. The applicant files his application. Ideally, this application is filed with the help of a Local Representative and by using the online form.
  2. We analyse the application to check whether it complies with our criteria.
  3. We inform the applicant whether his application has been accepted. If not, the procedure ends there.
  4. We search for one or more experts who match the application.
  5. We propose the expert(s) to the applicant.
  6. The applicant chooses, rejects or accepts the expert. When rejected, we may possibly look for another expert.
  7. We contact the selected expert.
  8. We put the expert in touch with the applicant so they can agree on the project dates.
  9. Before his departure, we meet the expert for a briefing session.
  10. The expert goes oversees to carry out the project.
  11. At the end of the project, the expert writes down his recommendations and discusses them with the applicant.
  12. Within a month after returning, the expert sends his report to both the applicant and Exchange.
  13. After returning, we meet the expert for a debriefing session.

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What are the evaluation procedures?

We are constantly looking to improve the quality of our interventions. As such, we have created different evaluation procedures.

At the end of the project:

After the project:

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Who are our experts?

We have a database of more than 1,000 candidate experts who are ready to carry out a project for us. Here is a summary of the competences and character traits of our experts:

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Which complementary documents do we need from the applicant in the South?

To evaluate the exact situation of an applicant, and to be able to prepare the project as adequately as possible, we ask the applicant to send a copy of the following documents:

 

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