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ProFound - Advisers In Development Newsletter
ProFound Newsletter - December, 2015  No. 11

PROFOUND BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO ORGANIC AFRICA PAVILION 

Biofach 2016 will witness the re-emergence of the Africa Pavilion. 12 companies from the continent will exhibit and benefit from ProFound’s matchmaking services. Companies from Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Ghana will show products ranging from dried fruits, to cocoa, baobab and honey. In this initiative, ProFound is working together with Louis Bolk – Agro Eco.

ProFound intends to build on this concept in future years, offering organic sector associations, donors, trade promotion agencies and individual companies the opportunity to get a full service package for successful trade fair participation. Our modular approach makes it possible to cater to the needs of different companies – starting with renting stand-space to facilitation of B2B business meetings and follow-up.

ARE ETHIOPIAN COOPERATIVE UNIONS CAPABLE OF EXPORTING THEMSELVES?

In a pilot project with three unions, SNV, Target and ProFound found an answer to this question. The answer was yes, but not all of them and their capability depends on the export market. Exporting requires much more capacity from a union than the supply to private sector exporters or the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange.

In the case of the three unions and their pulses production, ProFound showed them that significant improvements in quality management are necessary to gain access to the European market. Other markets are less demanding and showed concrete interest during a matchmaking tour at the ANUGA trade fair (Read more). These markets are more accessible, but still require the unions to develop several crucial export capacities. For example, two of the three union managers have to improve their communication skills to establish sustainable trade relationships. This example also shows that feasibility of exports by unions is strongly dependent on skills and knowledge of their leaders.

In the extended Cooperatives 4 Change programme planned for the coming years, ProFound will assess the capacities of more unions and support them with making decisions about their marketing strategies. Exporting is not the only option and cooperation with private sector actors can be beneficial for both.

HARMONISING STANDARDS FOR SUSTAINABLE WILD COLLECTION IN PAKISTAN 

Spread across the Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Himalayan mountain ranges, Northern Pakistan provides an incredibly rich biodiversity. However, even though protected areas and conservancies now cover almost 25 percent of the mountain areas, threats remain to the region's unique biodiversity due to poverty and limited options for sustainable livelihoods. The UNDP-GEF Mountains and Markets project aims to improve livelihoods of local communities by providing sustainable solutions to make use of the rich biodiversity.
 
Commissioned by CBI (promoting imports from developing countries) and the Mountains and Markets project, ProFound travelled to Pakistan to meet with local companies to discuss sustainable sourcing. (Read more) A number of these companies are getting ready to export to Europe with CBI's Export Coaching programme for Natural Ingredients. Coming February, they will exhibit at Biofach 2016. ProFound also provided training in the harmonisation of relevant sustainability standards. During the training sessions, Michael Schwegler, FairWild auditor and trainer, highlighted the benefits of several standards such as organic, FairWild and Fair for Life, as well as the harmonised documentation for a one-stop certification process as developed by ProFound.

As a result of the mission, a pilot will start early 2016 on the certification of Chilgoza pine nuts from one of the Northern valleys, based on this harmonised certification method. This opens up the opportunity to companies to certify their wild-collected products as organic, FairWild and fair trade at the same time, in other words a total sustainability package
 

MOVING FORWARD IN SOUTH AFRICA 

ProFound has been active in South Africa for two years – working with CBI and its partners. We are building capacities of exporters and helping them with their export market plans, improving the business enabling environment and providing access to information on the European market. (Read more)

During the past 6 months ProFound focused on research and development to help South African companies find their way on the European market. Research into the opportunities for South African natural ingredients for use in cosmetic and health products was presented in a National Conference on Natural Ingredients, supported by ProFound. 180 participants discussed opportunities and actions in the natural ingredients sector and the business enabling environment. We also supported a sector analysis on corporate social responsibility, to adjust CSR tools to the situation in South Africa (Read more). We will use tools developed here in our upcoming work in Myanmar (Read more).

There is a strong drive for innovation-based development of the natural ingredients sector in South Africa. However, to develop and commercialise products based on South Africa’s biodiversity the sector needs to unite in a strategy addressing key bottlenecks in the sector. CBI and its local counterparts in South Africa are developing such a strategy in coming months. In the new year, we will continue our work in South Africa, helping its natural ingredients sector to develop.
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