SPARK is the lead organisation, in partnership with BiD Network , running the Enterprise Development Programme. This five-year programme started in January 2011 and is funded by the Dutch Government’s MFS II budget. Promoting entrepreneurship and job creation, MFS II aims to contribute to sustainable economic development in five post-conflict countries: Kosovo, Liberia, the Palestinian Territories, Burundi and Rwanda. The Enterprise Development Programme (MFSII) is a 5 year programme started in January 2011. The programme focuses on three pillars; supporting the local partner, developing partner capacity and advocating for improved business enabling environment.
The local partner organisations that SPARK works with are generally service providers for entrepreneurs. The services offered by these providers often lack quality and do not cover the full spectrum of needs of the entrepreneurs. Additionally, the management capacity of the partners are challenging the sustainability of the organisations.
SPARK, internally and with the programme partners, offers training courses and coaching to improve and upscale the local partner organisations on all levels:
- Internal management
- Business environment
The first strategy of the programme is geared toward the other two strategies. Through these improved skills, the strategy aimed at entrepreneurship and job creation will improve and the strategy towards an improved business environment will have more effect. Through strategy 1, the general sustainability of partners and of the programme’s activities will be secured.
Through the cooperation with various local partner organisations, SPARK creates a funnel where a multitude of ambitious youth is introduced and trained in entrepreneurship. Through additional training of the business plan and the business plan competition for example, the entrepreneurs with the highest potential are selected for additional coaching and training. Additionally, SPARK agrees with local banks to provide a loan to these entrepreneurs based on the SPARK Loan Guarantee Fund. The SPARK solution BSC Academy is a new year long programme for high potential youth to create business ideas and get challenged to ensure top quality before they start their endeavor.
Aside from the startups, the local partners also offer services to Growing Small Businesses. The SPARK Solution Advisory Board Services provide high quality advanced services to the businesses to create new opportunities for investors and trade connections. Another opportunity offered by SPARK is the Ignite Investment Fund, the SPARK investment vehicle for GSB’s to enable a follow-up growth opportunity.
SPARK has a prime focus on the business environment through research, analysis, and lobby and advocacy to spark changes in the business environment. Together with local partner organisations, collectively, SPARK develops strategy to get very concrete policy, regulatory, and institutional changes that benefit small, young entrepreneurs. Also through some of the activities in the other strategies, business environment improvement is generated through capacity building of agencies, trade collaboration between otherwise opposing people/groups, and collaboration between business networks and branch organisations.
Within this strategy, several results have been reached: Abolishment of import duty for IT equipment for local IT companies in Kosovo. Lobby on women’s rights to inheritance and land titling in Burundi. Social Entrepreneurs Special Economic Zone policy in Liberia. Tourist Business Associations of opposing sides in Kosovo collaborating. Trade facilitation between Kosovar and Serbian businesses.