On 16 October 2014 SPARK and UNDP successfully organised an expert meeting on SME Development in Early Recovery in crisis affected regions. The meeting focused on innovation and measuring results. What made event in particularly relevant: in the new Sustainable Development Goals the role of entrepreneurship development in these regions is marginalised. To compensate for this, it is crucial to include indicators related to this topic in the negotiations and the final draft of the SDG’s in 2015. This third SPARK expert meeting initiated a first discussion about these indicators with stakeholders and experts. ‘Is a programme actually designed to create jobs? Many times, this is not the case.’
Subjects and guests
About 25 experts participated and engaged in lively discussions on subjects and themes such as ‘role of governments and NGOs’, ‘pragmatism’, ‘3×6 approach by UNDP’, ‘public private partnerships’, ‘budget for measurement’, ‘lack of a sight on sustainability’ and ‘what is the definition of a job’.
Special guests of this expert meeting were, amongst others: Nik Sekhran (UNDP Director Sustainable Development Cluster), Paul Ladd (UNDP Senior Policy Advisor Post 2015), Owen Shumba (UNDP Team Leader Livelihoods and Economic Recovery), Stephan Pirozzi (World Bank Group/IFC), Peter Davis (international consultant), Ben Fowler (MarketShare Associates) and Yannick du Pont (SPARK Director).
Emphasis on pragmatism
During the meeting it became clear that the roles of the different stakeholders need to be clear: government and development organisations can not create the private sector. ‘The private sector creates itself’ says Peter Davis. However, government and NGOs can ease the development of the private sector and facilitate entrepreneurs better – they can be a catalyst. Diana Guitierez confirmed this (Inclusive Economic Development Manager, UNDP Colombia), calling for more public-private partnerships. Even more important, as agreed by all participants of the meeting, ‘pragmatism in crisis affected environments is a crucial success factor. One has to do what one can do’, Davis ended, ‘in order have real impact on the daily lives of people’. Innovation is key – we need to go for ‘the low hanging fruit’, quick results, but also need to create sustainable results.
What is a job?
Ben Fowler, M&E expert from MarketShare Associates, introduced the audience with a series of questions that need to get answers in the following months, all circling around one question: what is a (sustainable) job? It is important to define a job, and according to Fowler, you need to tailor it to the context you are working in. Do you count one hour a week job also as a job? What about jobs only given to family members? And do you measure job conditions? And what about children: do you measure their work as jobs? Furthermore Fowler made it clear that organisations should start taking measurement seriously: ‘put it right on a budget line: it is not administration!’ Professionals need to want to know the answers and results for reasons of quality. It is the core of your project.
As the last speaker Yannick du Pont added to the discussion that counting created jobs is doable – save a few technical issues. Now it is time to measure the impact of these interventions, of the jobs created, such as violence reduction, feeling of security, matters of stability, and other social impact. And just the amount of jobs created is not good enough anymore, ‘if jobs are not equally divided over certain ethnic groups for example’. It is about inclusive entrepreneurship development.
Background SPARK expert meetings
Together with a wide spectrum of international partners like UNDP, ILO, CASA and The Hague Institute for Global Justice, SPARK organises a series of expert meetings around the world in 2014-2015, which are designed to deepen understanding of SME development in crisis affected regions to support tool development for entrepreneurship opportunities.
The overall objective of this series of expert meetings is to support knowledge development and good practices on Entrepreneurship Development in crisis affected environments, bringing together key organisations specialised in several sub areas. During these expert meetings they share knowledge and, through an evidence based approach, create new and successful tools and potentially pilot these together.
Organisations worldwide are invited to collaborate in organising the expert meetings through presenting case studies, interactive discussions and debate. SPARK believes that only through multi-stakeholder cooperation, we are able to increase effective impact in these challenging environments.