A partner for business

What do improved health care in Africa and reliable components for cars have in common? Susanne Wolfgarten explains.

Susanne Wolfgarten, is responsible at GIZ for initiating business with companies and foundations.

Susanne Wolfgarten is responsible at GIZ for initiating business with companies and foundations.

Doctors and nurses from Germany are exchanging knowledge on patterns of disease with their counterparts in developing and emerging countries and discussing available treatments. They take part in joint training sessions and are setting up digital networks. The administrative staff at their clinics are also engaged in dialogue to develop improved health care solutions. In Ethiopia, for example, modern op standards in gynaecology have been introduced as a result of this type of clinic partnership. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Else Kröner Fresenius Foundation are seeking to promote partnerships like these. The initiative is coordinated by GIZ.

Another example of our cooperation with foundations is the longstanding partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. On behalf of BMZ and in partnership with the foundation, we are helping 120,000 rice farmers in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania to raise yields using innovative farming techniques, for instance. Not only do individual farmers improve their income, the countries themselves become less dependent on imports.

Complying with development policy guidelines

We also work closely with companies, in particular through the developpp.de programme of BMZ. It provides financial and technical support to companies that invest in developing and emerging countries. Companies also participate in existing projects, if these are compatible with their corporate objectives. A third form of cooperation involves companies commissioning projects directly from GIZ. This enables them to contribute ideas of their own. At the same time, we ensure that these projects comply with development policy guidelines of the German Government. This means working with partners at the local level to develop joint solutions.

One example of a partnership with companies can be found in China, where we are collaborating with German carmakers on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The car industry has a keen interest in importing reliable products. Our role involves bringing together representatives of companies, associations and ministries from both countries and working with them to improve standards. We also pursue this approach in other sectors, including the toy industry.

Customers demanding more sustainable production

The African Cashew initiative is ­another example of a partnership with foundations and the private sector. What makes companies want to get involved? For many it is the result of pressure from customers demanding more sustainable production. This is particularly true of companies operating in the consumer goods sector. GIZ ­advises Lidl, for example, on improving working conditions in textiles factories in Bangladesh. When we receive a direct commission from a company, we work without the use of taxpayers’ money. Commissions like these are implemented by GIZ’s taxable business arm International Services. 

Cooperation with companies and foundations is becoming increasingly important, particularly against the backdrop of the Agenda 2030. The aim is to reconcile economic progress with social justice and the environmental constraints of our planet. The Agenda takes into account all three sustainability dimensions: the social, the environmental, the economic. Its goals cannot be achieved using public funds alone. The involvement of companies and foundations is therefore necessary and appropriate. 

Defining the nature of this involvement is a matter for each individual company, a process that GIZ and our partners will be pleased to support. The chances of success are greatest when changes take place not just as a result of social responsibility, but when they concern a company’s core processes.

published in akzente 1/17