Exchange on the Medium Business Sector and on the Programme’s Development

Berlin. Besides the exchange of views on the Programme itself, the focus of the 9th International Partner Conference of the Manager Training Programme (MP) was on the role of medium-sized businesses in Germany and the partner countries. Representatives of political and implementation partners from 19 countries followed the invitation by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on 5 and 6 September.

Reimut Düring, Head of the Manager Training Programme (MP) of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH “almost had the impression of a family event” when he welcomed the guests to the two-day conference in the Döblin Saal of the Park Inn Alexanderplatz in Berlin. The representatives of the partner countries also enjoyed this atmosphere. Olena Nyzhnyk from the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine said: “It is interesting to learn at the conferences how the Programme is developing in other countries.” Le Thi Lam Vien from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) finds: “This is also a good platform for giving BMWi and GIZ feedback on the Programme.”

Farewell and Expansion

Dr Karl-Ernst Brauner, Head of External Economic Policy within BMWi, opened the conference, acknowledging the Programme, which has been running for 15 years now, and particularly the role of Russia, the first and still largest partner country. He emphasised that not only the respective company sending its executive, but also the individual participant had the opportunity to experience “what Germany feels like”. Dr Brauner, for whom it was the last Partner Conference in this function described it as “ground-breaking” that German executives, too, have similar opportunities in Russia and China, following invitations from the governments there.

Two further countries could shortly join the current 14 partner countries. Representatives of Mexico and Tunisia already attended the Conference as guests. While negotiations with Tunisia are still in the very early stages, preparatory talks with Mexico have already been finalised. Before the end of this year, a pilot group of Mexican entrepreneurs will be visiting Germany within the scope of the Manager Training Programme.

Evaluation shows the effects of the Programme

Hartmut Röben, Head of Department at BMWi, presented the evaluation of the economic results of the Programme. In 2011, Programme alumni from the years 2007 to 2009 were polled on their long-term Programme results. Röben stated that 88 percent of the participating companies sending executives are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and that mainly such companies benefited on the German side, too. He said that, as SMEs normally do not have the same possibilities as large companies for accessing foreign markets, the goal of BMWi was to particularly support these SMEs in utilising the opportunities globalisation offers. In the period mentioned, the number of business relationships leading to contractual agreements had almost doubled owing to participation in the Programme. Turnovers amounting to several hundred million euros were generated, and this would probably not have been the case without the Programme.

Almost every second Programme participant concluded business agreements with German companies following their stay in Germany. More than every fourth participant had passed on contacts made during the stay in Germany within the home company. The majority of the participants keep in contact with German companies even years after their own participation in the Programme, which speaks for the sustainability of the MP. The individual participants often experienced a positive development in their careers following the participation in the Programme; more than half of the participants held higher positions within the home company after their participation in the Programme. Galiya Joldybayeva from the Ministry of Regional Development of Kazakhstan also spoke of a very positive evaluation of the Programme by the participants. She pointed out that the Programme also contributed to improving relations between the countries.

Medium business sector and the MP in the partner countries

The following discussion was introduced with two input papers that made it clear why the Programme focuses particularly on SMEs. Dr Armgard Wippler described the role of the medium business sector in Germany from the perspective of BMWi. Riccardo Giucci examined the role of SMEs in the Eastern European partner countries. Achmed Elshahat Hassan, in charge of the Programme at the Egyptian implementation partner ITC, drew attention to the differences between the definition of the medium business sector in Germany and Egypt. He said a company considered in Germany as being medium-sized could already be a large company in Egypt.

The Programme helped Khuyang Ganbaatar, Vice President of the Mongolian Employers’ Federation MONEF, to understand how Germany has managed to cope so well with the crises of the past years. So far, participants from Mongolia were mainly managers from large companies in mining and light industry, but the significance of SMEs was increasing, he said. Gokul Nagarkoti from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Government of India also said that the proportion of SMEs was growing enormously in his country, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.

Olga Badanova from the Ministry of Economy of Moldova said that the MP opened up opportunities for the participants and, at the same time, helped to increase the country’s competitiveness. She stressed the role of industry, particularly that of the SMEs. In the opinion of Le Viet Anh from the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Vietnam, participation in the Programme means not only strengthening cooperation with Germany, but also strengthening the companies within Vietnam. Representatives of several countries made their interest in the sector and topic-based group programmes clear.

Sector and topic groups

An exchange of experiences concerning the international sector and topic groups took place at the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology on the second day of the conference. In the MP, the focus is currently on:
– Mining and raw materials sector,
– Health sector,
– Environmental technologies / water and waste sector
– Energy efficiency in industrial companies
– Energy efficiency in the construction and refurbishment of buildings
– Renewable energies and
– Agriculture.

It was determined in the working group of the partners at the political level that already every tenth group is a sector and topic-based one. The representatives of the individual countries reported on their consistently positive experiences regarding the implementation and the added value of these group formats. The partners all agreed that sector groups should be continued and perhaps expanded. Tourism, IT, construction, logistics and the processing of agricultural products were named as possible further future sectors of priority.

The contents of the implementation partners’ working group were the presentation of the various programme formats, a discussion on the definition of selected target groups and the exchange of experiences made so far with gaining participants in the respective countries. The discussion showed that the partners need to receive information on the planning of sector programmes well ahead from the German side as finding participants for sector programmes requires more effort than programmes with heterogeneous groups do. The implementation of sector-specific programmes was also a topic in numerous bilateral discussions between BMWi and the partners on the fringe of the Partner Conference.

The evening reception in honour of Dr Brauner on the first day of the conference really was a highlight in the true sense of the word; on the 37th floor of the Park Inn, representatives of the partner countries acknowledge his contribution to the further development of the Programme. The guests then took the opportunity to expand their international networks, with a panoramic view of the city in the background.