ProFound Newsletter - September 2020
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Happy anniversary ProFound!
And it’s not just ProFound’s 30th birthday, it is also my 60th… meaning that half of my life is marked by great adventures and passion in linking collector and farmer communities to markets and develop value-added products from their biodiverse environment.
In started in the early 1990s with a small group of friends, working particularly on NGO programmes dealing with Non-Timber Forest Products. This resulted in several networks that exist until today, thanks to very dedicated partners, like NTFP in South & Southeast Asia, or Phyto Trade and Api Trade in Africa. We also produced a great many market analyses and reports, in particular for CBI, which is still one of ProFound’s key pillars.
Gradually we started doing more work with companies and trade promotion programmes related to biodiversity, resulting in the design and implementation of many Natural Ingredient Programmes. Examples are CBI sector analyses, trade promotion programmes together with the UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative (est. 1996), and CBI’s Pakistan NI Programme. More recently we are a key partner in the Helvetas Regional Biotrade Project in South East Asia.
Over the years we helped set a standard for sustainable wild-collection with FairWild, and established our expert group IN2NI (for Natural Ingredients), in which we developed innovative certification compliance tools with CheckApp. Sad to say that with the passing of my dear friend Klaus Dürbeck in December 2016, a lot of drive in the IN2NI group was lost; we had been closely working together since 1997, plotting and designing many sustainable ingredient initiatives. I never forget the ICOC meetings that marked the beginning of so many exciting years.
All this brought us today to design and implement total solution packages from sustainable sourcing to successful marketing, which includes market analysis, compliance, and market entry strategies. We do this for Natural Ingredients, and for specialty products ranging from coffee, tea, and cocoa, to fruits & vegetables (fresh and processed); and also for local markets, like with Green Rhino and Healthy Green Choice in Kenya, and soon in Myanmar. One of our solution packages under Market Entry is the Organic Africa Pavilion, a platform that we have developed over the years at the BioFach trade fair in Germany. Each year we support between 20 and 25 innovative companies from Africa and we are looking forward to supporting more in the future. Next year will include an Asian Pavilion in collaboration with the Helvetas SE Asia BioTrade Project. The work with the Pavilion has led to a new initiative with IFOAM, GIZ and BioFach to investigate the promotion of organic agriculture, agroecological approaches and organic trade in Africa.
Looking back I am proud and happy to say that, together with the many people, associates and partners who have worked with ProFound over the years, we have built lasting initiatives and results. Yet, we are far from done! According to the latest WWF Living Planet Report 2020, our planet's wildlife populations have now plummeted by 68% since 1970 – and this happened during less than my lifespan… Dutch band Kensington has a recent song called ‘Uncharted (territory)’; current Covid times indeed are uncharted territory and so are current debates of inclusive, climate-smart and green economies. Unlike the song, there is no turning back to what used to be, we still have to demonstrate that together we can build better solutions; in that sense we are gearing up with new team members and associates to get this done!
With many thanks to all who support our work :)
Bert-Jan Ottens
Founder & Senior Adviser
Team changes within ProFound

After 20 years at ProFound we are saying goodbye to our dear colleague Sharifa Zaidi. With her warm personality, energy, and skills, Sharifa brought structure and stability and played a key role in the development of ProFound and its employees. She also managed all our Market Analysis activities, was our operations and HR manager, and an expert on spices and herbs for the food market. We want to thank her for being a great colleague and friend and wish her all the best in her future endeavours!
"From my first days as a rookie and onwards, it has been enlightening and truly wonderful to work not only in a great team, but also in a very inspiring environment of sustainable development and trade promotion."
Sharifa Zaidi 

We are also saying goodbye to Eugénie Häni, who worked for ProFound for almost a year. She perfectly managed the Organic Africa Pavilion and brought ProFound’s website and social media presence to the next level. Good luck Eugénie, with your live back and new job in Switzerland!


At the same time, we are welcoming two new team members: Nicolás Caso and Faye Hartman.

Nicólas will mainly work on our Organic Africa Pavilion at BioFach, communication and marketing of ProFound and supporting our online services.
Faye is our new trainee who will support and develop our compliance trajectories and our work in Eastern Africa with Green Rhino. We are looking forward to working with both of them!
ProFound starts two projects in Africa for GIZ
ProFound is very proud to announce that we won 2 tenders for projects Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) for projects in Africa.


ProFound won the tender for an assignement part of the GIZ Programme called “Strengthening Drought Resilience in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lowlands of Ethiopia (SDR-ASAL)”. Amongst other objectives, the programme puts a focus on improving management and utilization of natural vegetation as pasture for livestock and source of living of pastoral communities in Afar and Somali Regions.

ProFound and a team of local experts will work on linking Gums and Resins collectors to the market. Read more about the project on our website


ProFound is part of a consortium led by Kruger Swart & Associates and with Agrifusion to work on the development of a sector plan(s) for the ABS Compliant Biotrade in South(ern) Africa project, funded by SECO and implemented by GIZ. This project focuses on 6 prioritised value chains: Marula, Baobab, Honeybush, Buchu, Aloe ferox and an essential oils cluster including Lippia Javanica, Cape Chamomile and Helichrysum.

ProFound provides up-to-date insights into natural ingredients markets which will enable market insights, combined with value chain analysis, to identify bottlenecks and opportunities.
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ProFound - Advisers In Development · Lange Smeestraat 55 · Utrecht, 3511 PV · Netherlands

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