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Cordaid NL
Private Sector Development

Fostering economic growth

Director Private Sector Development & Resilience

Heleen van der Beek

Fostering economic growth

The presence of vibrant small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is crucial for many developing countries. However, social, economic and political realities in fragile countries make it hard for SMEs to flourish. Cordaid supports local entrepreneurs to build professional, resilient businesses with the aim to create more jobs, in particular for young people.

In the Netherlands Cordaid supports entrepreneurship of people with a distance to the labor market. Our COIN program (Cooperative Entrepreneurship in the Netherlands) reduces social exclusion by promoting social cooperative entrepreneurship in almost 20 municipalities. In social cooperatives, people with various backgrounds strengthen their entrepreneurial skills and can start their own business, while still retaining social benefits.

What we do

In developing countries

The private sector of many developing countries consists primarily of informal microenterprises operating alongside a limited number of large firms. SMEs, which can be important contributors to equitable economic growth and job creation, are often lacking or few in number. Cordaid’s Private Sector Development efforts aim to address this ‘missing middle’ by supporting SMEs with an innovative two-track strategy: Resilient Business Development Services and Access to Finance.

Resilient Business Development Services

Track 1 involves support for SMEs through Resilient Business Development Services (RBDS), before and after they receive a loan or equity investment. The RBDS program is designed to improve financial, social and environmental business performance and geared towards making enterprises ‘investment-ready’ and resilient. The RBDS program offers selected SMEs an integrated support system that includes business training, one-on-one coaching, in-business technical expertise, access to information and networking opportunities. SMEs receive group training and mentoring on key subjects, such as operational management, internal management, supply chain management, marketing, financial management, risk management, business rule of law, and access to finance.

A day at the metal workplace of Frances Rose in Makeni, Sierra Leone (© Heleen van der Beek / Cordaid)

Access to Finance

Track 2 leverages the success of RBDS by providing investment capital to eligible SMEs to catalyse business growth. Whilst foreign investors and local banks are rarely willing to invest in SMEs in transition economies due to the excessive costs and risks involved, Cordaid is confident that the RBDS program delivers investable SMEs and therefore reduces the risks.

This two-track approach ensures that capital is allocated effectively to those SMEs that have the capacity to create sustainable social impacts, while also generating competitive financial returns.

In the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, Cordaid’s Cooperative Entrepreneurship program supports initiatives and municipalities that want to establish a social cooperative. In collaboration with various parties, such as local businesses and civil society organizations, Cordaid helps social cooperatives to become sustainable. Our program reaches out to people with a low income and/or a distance to the labor market in the Netherlands, who are thwarted in their plans to set up their own business for various reasons. Either because they do not fit the frame of a regular 9-to-5 job, or because their age makes it difficult to find a job. Or they may lack working experience, or a degree, or because they are socially isolated. Within a social cooperative people have the possibility to discover and develop their talents, become more self-reliant and actively take part in society again.

Three support phases

In the Netherlands, Cordaid’s work with social cooperatives consists of three phases: orientation, start-up and development. After two years of Cordaid support, social cooperatives should be (financially) sustainable.

In the orientation phase Cordaid provides information, assesses the business plan of the social cooperative and discusses the implications of the Participatiewet with the municipality (this law, amongst other things, aims to bridge the labor gap for people with a distance to the job market).

The start-up phase includes the formal establishment and registration of the social cooperative. Cordaid advises on legal, fiscal and financial matters, drafts statutes, agreements and general conditions.

In the development phase we provide custom made support. Our trainings help social cooperatives to improve key skills, work out a business plan, as well as pricing and marketing strategies. We also assist the board with day-to-day business.

Once strong enough, we keep track of the cooperative’s individual members and operate as a sounding board.

  • >60 SMEs trained since 2016
  • 995,000€ invested in 9 SMEs
  • 24 social cooperatives supported by Cordaid in
  • 19 municipalities in the Netherlands

Private Sector Development Services

Thematic expertise

  • Delivery of resilient business development services in the form of training courses, coaching programs and mentoring;
  • Access to sector, product and business specific knowledge and expertise;
  • Provision of network events, keynote speakers and action research.

Heleen van der Beek

Director Private Sector Development & Resilience

Program and grant management

  • Program and grant management in private sector development;
  • Capacity building of local business development service providers;
  • Sector specific support for enhancing value chain development.

Heleen van der Beek

Director Private Sector Development & Resilience

Investment management

The Cordaid private sector development approach is intricately linked to the work of Cordaid Investments. Our two-track approach makes SMEs investment ready and increases their chances to have access to finance by applying Cordaid Investment selection criteria. By thus helping to create sustainable businesses, able to act as promoters of local economic growth and job creation, Cordaid ensures high economic and social impact.

Heleen van der Beek

Director Private Sector Development & Resilience

Private Sector Development team

Mieke van Tilburg

Program manager

Heleen van der Beek

Director Private Sector Development & Resilience

Marten Tjaart Raadsveld

Business adviser

Lennert de Vries

Business adviser

Mike Sips

Monitoring & evaluation