Janssens-Bevernage, A. 2002. Capacity-Building for Private-Sector Development: The Southern African Enterprise Network (SAEN) (ECDPM Discussion Paper 38). Maastricht: ECDPM.
This case study on capacity-building in relation to the Southern African Enterprise Network (SAEN) describes the processes involved in establishing and building the network, presents a critical analysis of its capacity development strategy, and gives an overview of the network’s strengths and weaknesses.
Various initiatives have been taken in recent years to strengthen the capacities of the private sector in developing countries. Within the framework of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, both the ACP and the EU have made firm commitments to support the private sector, which they both see as an important development partner alongside governments. The idea is for the private sector in ACP countries to assume a stronger role in political dialogue, national and regional programming and in formulating and implementing cooperation policies. In addition, the private sector will be given easier access to funding and capacity-building support.
It was in this new and propitious climate for private-sector development that a small group of business leaders in various ACP regions decided to establish an ACP Business Forum as a loose-knit, private- sector network with the dual aim of:
• promoting linkages and collaboration among ACP private-sector actors and with European private-sector organisations, and
• strengthening the capacity of the private sector in ACP countries to participate in the dialogue on, and in the formulation and implementation of policies for ACP-EU cooperation.
The ambitious roles that the ACP Business Forum intends to play call for an appropriate organisational structure and major capacity-building efforts. In order to strengthen the capacities of the ACP Business Forum, it would be useful to draw upon lessons of experience relating to other, similar initiatives that have been taken beyond the arena of the Cotonou Agreement. The West African, East African and Southern African Enterprise Networks are all good examples of such initiatives. These have been facilitated by the OECD and supported by a number of donor agencies. Although the context and objectives of these networks differ slightly from those of the ACP Business Forum, interesting lessons can nevertheless be derived from their experiences with institution-building.