Sub-principle 3.C

 Make partnerships more accessible


Why is it important?


Development co-operation projects in which the private sector participates require stricter safeguards and due diligence processes to ensure that public money is being well spent. These procedures often translate into complex application processes and costly reporting obligations because development partners fail to adapt such requirements to the capacity of different organisations. To access the funds and opportunities provided by development co-operation, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) need to understand how these procedures work and invest in training their staff to navigate each development partner’s legal and regulatory frameworks. It is important to invest in a channel of communication with development partners and national governments to communicate challenges that MSMEs may face in these processes and discuss ways to simplify application procedures and monitoring and evaluation provisions.

Self-reflection questions
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  • Do you know where to find detailed information on how to apply to development co-operation projects and what that entails in terms of the legal and regulatory requirements and capacity for your company?
  • Have you familiarised yourself with the application procedures and relevant legal and regulatory frameworks with which you will need to comply when you join a development co-operation project? What other barriers could you potentially encounter? Do these barriers make your participation in projects unfeasible?
  • Have you communicated these barriers and challenges to development partners and the national government? Have you suggested ways to easily undue requirements and facilitate the application process?
  • Have you requested further guidance to build the capacity of your company to join development co-operation projects? Have you raised with development partners, national governments and business associations the need to develop workshops and other guidance materials to support the involvement of MSMEs in development co-operation?

Actions to consider
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  • Assess the required capacity to join a project before you apply.
  • Be clear with development partners about barriers that impede the participation of smaller companies such as yours, including complex reporting procedures and costly monitoring and evaluation requirements.
  • Explore options to join workshops and capacity-building activities when available.
  • Suggest ways to improve the overall accessibility of projects to facilitate the participation of smaller companies.

Pitfalls to avoid
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  • Engage in projects or commit to procedures that are too complicated or expensive for your company.
  • Assume that partners will automatically take over the most complex tasks of a project because of your capacity constraints.
  • Expect project partners to allow your company to dismiss certain procedures because of your capacity constraints if this is not stipulated in your memorandum of agreement.


A multiple case study in Ethiopia shows how partnerships can facilitate institutional change that helps smallholder producers and MSMEs integrate the (global) food value chain. 

The Connecting Business initiative (Cbi) engages the private sector in disaster preparedness, response and recovery. Cbi works directly with business federations around the world, representing more than 4 000 members and reaching more than 40 000 MSMEs.

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