Mesopartner @ Work

Creating jobs for rural youth in Moldova

Mesopartner has been part of the development of a winning bid for a programme to support economic growth and the creation of jobs for rural youth in Moldova. The programme is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and will start in November. Mesopartner is one of three organisations partnering in delivering the programme, together with the Swiss NGO HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Moldova. 

Migration out of the country, particularly by educated youth, is a major problem for the economy in Moldova. Therefore, while the programme aims to boost private-sector led growth and job creation in a number of selected sectors in Moldova, part of it will also be to better understand and shape the social dynamics around migration. For this purpose, the programme will for example work together with youth organisations in the country. 

The proposed programme design combines Market Systems Development and Local Economic Development approaches in an innovative way, driving growth in potential sectors through a process of bottom-up participation and strong regions. Mesopartner will bring its expertise in managing and supporting development processes on both local and national levels.

Basic LRED Training in Indonesia

August 2018

From the 27 to 31 of August 2018 a Local and Regional Economic Development (LRED) training was conducted by Mesopartner (Christian Schoen, Shawn Cunningham) in Bogor, Indonesia, commissioned by the National Support for Local Investment Climate (NSLIC)/National Support for Enhancing Local and Regional Development (NSELRED) Project. NSLIC/NSELRED is a 6-year project supported by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Twenty-six participants from the planning agency BAPPEDA of thirteen Districts and two Sulawesi provinces have participated in this five-day training. Through the training, Mesopartner created a basic understanding of LRED as a development process and introduced specific instruments and tools to promote LRED in the regions. The training was conducted in an interactive manner to enable the participants to learn actively by applying selected tools in classroom exercises.

The training served as an introductory course for those who would like to apply the LRED approach and its tools for promoting their local and regional economies. Following the training, provincial and district governments are encouraged to identify, design and implement LRED activities. The LRED instruments that were introduced follow a participatory and bottom-up approach, which will help relevant stakeholders to build a joint understanding of their locality, find common ground among different interests and develop needs-driven LRED programs.

Presentation and Reflection of a Smart Rural Concept for German Rural Regions

Frank Waeltring of Mesopartner is involved in the promotion of smart city and smart rural area projects in Germany. Together with the district economic development agencies in the region Münsterland in Northrhine Westphalia they are designing a proposal for the promotion of innovation, future work and life quality in rural areas. 

Many of Germany´s competitive businesses are still located in rural areas, but face a skills shortage. In addition, skilled employees seek more than just a good work place. The development of an attractive and dynamic surrounding in regard to housing, educational, economic, cultural, and social criteria are key to keeping more local people in the countryside and to attracting more educated people from outside. The suggested project focuses on 3 key entrance points to promote dynamic development initiatives in rural areas: 1) Establishment of adjusted coworking space models in the rural areas, 2) more innovative support of qualified people in the rural areas and attraction of qualified people to the countryside, 3) Promotion of a variety of smart development initiatives with the “creative class” in the rural regions that foster digital as well as non-digital innovative solutions for health, start-ups, environmental and social challenges. The photos show a workshop with representatives of economic development agencies from the districts, mayors and businesses to reflect about the concept and to add in key issues.

1st CALIDENA Training in Myanmar

August 2018, Yangon

PTB’s “Upgrading the Quality Infrastructure in Myanmar” project has started cooperation with the ‘Sustainable Agricultural Development and Food Quality Initiative (SAFI)’ of GIZ focusing on the joint implementation of the participatory CALIDENA methodology to stimulate quality in selected agricultural value chains and to support the development of the national quality infrastructure.

CALIDENA is a moderated process to generate change towards higher quality products and processes in value chains. The CALIDENA methodology helps identify shortcomings, which may cause low quality food production, and defines activities to address these challenges. Early in the process, feasibility studies of selected value chains will be prepared by trained “moderators” who are expected to continue supporting the moderation of CALIDENA workshops and the implementation of actions targeting quality upgrade.

Within this context, a “Training Workshop for national CALIDENA moderators/consultants” took place from August 15-17, 2018 in Yangon with 20 participants from the public and private sector in Myanmar. The training was jointly organised by GIZ and PTB and delivered by Christian Schoen from Mesopartner, who acts as intermittent short-term expert for the PTB project in Myanmar.

Market and Funding Analysis in Vietnam

CARE International (CI) has maintained a presence in Vietnam since 1989 and established a positive reputation with numerous development stakeholders and beneficiaries in the country. Now that Vietnam has progressed to the status of low middle-income country and a vibrant civil society has emerged in Vietnam, the time has come to re-assess CI’s role and determine the most appropriate operational model to achieve impact and cost-effectiveness in the future. In order to make an informed decision on the best structure and means of operation within the fast-changing context in Vietnam, CI Vietnam has commissioned the Vietnam-based MCG Management Consulting company to conduct a market analysis. Christian Schoen from Mesopartner was subcontracted as international expert. The study, conducted in the first quarter of 2018, takes a specific view on the demand and need for development services sought after by the private sector, which are relevant to CI Vietnam’s program and expertise, the funding size and availability in this market segment and CI Vietnam’s potential position in this market.

SED Programme Development in Nepal


Sustainable economic development (SED) is one focal area of German Development Cooperation (GDC) in Nepal. Several projects have been implemented by GIZ, PTB and recently also by KfW within this focal area, but a topical and strategic roof was still missing. In early 2018, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) commissioned a consultant team led by Christian Schoen from Mesopartner with the task of conducting a number of analyses and drafting a concept for an SED programme which encompasses the different projects - or modules – of GDC under a joint umbrella and provides a coherent framework for future modules under technical and financial cooperation. The programme design considers the fact that Nepalese governance structures are currently undergoing a thorough change process. The current decentralisation and federalisation process in Nepal was triggered by the country’s new constitution promulgated in 2015. Regions have been replaced by newly defined provinces, and municipalities have been given extensive decision-making powers. It is not yet clear how far not only power, but also financial resources, will be devolved to the municipal level. Therefore, an SED programme implemented during an ongoing structural change process needs to be particularly flexible in design and highly adaptive – not only during the inception phase but throughout the entire programme life.

Innovation Economics at Jacobs University Bremen to explore Local Innovation Systems

May 2018

Since 2015, Frank Waeltring from Mesopartner has been providing semester seminars at the Jacobs-University Bremen in Germany on innovation economics. The objective is to support the University and the students in their efforts to link theory with real practical local insights. Apart from lecturing sessions, the 30 students prepare to interview innovative companies in the City of Bremen on internal innovation management issues and have to analyse the companies’ interrelation with the local and regional innovation system. Moving from innovation management towards a deeper analysis of a local innovation system is then the task of the second part of the innovation economics course. It is the 3rd year that Mesopartner is providing classes on innovation economics and development economics at the Jacobs University. 

Economic Cooperation between German and Lebanese Municipalities


Frank Waeltring of Mesopartner co-organised and facilitated a Local Economic Development (LED) Workshop with LED practitioners from German and Lebanese cities and districts. The workshop is only one among many other events in the Connective Cities-Initiative organised by the GIZ, the German Association of Cities (DST) and Engagement Global, on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Connective Cities promotes municipal know-how exchange with countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and other highly refugee-affected Middle-Eastern countries. The approach of the workshop was to promote a deeper understanding of LED based on Mesopartner methodologies as well as for the respective experts themselves to present LED project ideas and experiences from Germany and Lebanon. In Peer-to peer groups the experts shared ideas to develop their project approaches further and to initiate LED cooperation projects. BMZ flexible funding schemes promote LED projects in Middle Eastern countries as long as a German city administration or local economic development agency gets involved and promotes knowledge exchange. The overall objective is to increase knowledge and experience transfer from Germany to e.g. Lebanon by carrying out concrete LED projects in the respective Middle east city location.

Rapid Assessment of Occupational Safety and Health in Agriculture in Myanmar

In the second half of 2017, BuSoDev Myanmar in cooperation with Mesopartner (Christian Schoen) were commissioned by the ILO SafeYouth@Work Project to prepare a rapid assessment of the situation of occupational safety and health (OSH) in the agriculture sector in Myanmar. The assignment assessed the current OSH situation in agriculture in Myanmar with a specific view to identifying the hazards and risks faced by young workers (15 to 24 years) and thereby supporting the establishment of the project’s baseline in Myanmar. 

To cover a wide range of perspectives and sources of knowledge, the consultants employed a mix of desk research, stakeholder interviews at national and regional level and an agriculture worker survey to collect information and perceptions from those mostly affected by OSH in agriculture. The preliminary research results were presented and discussed in regional and national validation workshops in October 2017.

The assessment sought to understand the hazards in agriculture, to measure the likelihood that they will be realised and – in absence of reliable statistics – to collect evidence and anecdotes about real injuries and accidents and their health impacts. Moreover, the study discusses protective measures and workplace policies, legal framework conditions and requirements, related gender issues and recommendations for practical measures to improve the OSH situation in agriculture in the short and medium term.

Presentation: evaluation and complexity

February 2018

Marcus Jenal spent the day with the Big Lottery Fund and a group of evaluators who are running five large evaluations of major BLF programmes in the UK. The evaluators come together regularly to exchange and learn from each other’s experiences. This meeting focused on the topic of evaluation and complexity. Marcus was asked by BLF to set the scene by talking about what complexity is and why it is relevant for evaluation. Afterwards, he engaged with the evaluators and helped them make sense of complexity and the consequences for their evaluations.

In his presentation, Marcus put an emphasis on the fact that not everything is complex. He used Dave Snowden’s Cynefin framework to differentiate between situations that are ordered (obvious or complicated), complex or chaotic. Different evaluation approaches are needed for these different contexts. Read more about the event and download the presentation on Marcus’ personal blog site.

Two Tourism Value Chain Analyses in Myanmar

January 2018

In January 2018, Christian Schoen facilitated two parallel tourism value chain analyses (VCA) in Myanmar (Mawlamyine in Mon State, Hpa-An in Kayin State / 60 km distance). The assignment was organised by ILO’s entrepreneurship development project in Myanmar (funded by SECO). Both VCAs were rapid, participatory exercises with two local teams trained jointly and then split for fieldwork. The teams reunited for the results workshop. All major events happened separately in each tourism destination. Major discussion and structuring tools were Porter’s 5 Forces and the Market System Framework. And of course, the tourism value chain map (mapped by the teams in a participatory way) was the main visualisation and planning instrument. Another specific feature of the methodology were questionnaire-based surveys of domestic and international tourists as well as hotels. These were the 5th and 6th tourism VCAs Mesopartner has conducted with the ILO in Myanmar since 2014. All VCAs have a particular focus on strengthening SMEs operating in the tourism sector, i.e. resulting proposal for action have the potential to help tourism SMEs directly or indirectly.

Rethinking Systemic Insight

December 2017

At the end of last year, Shawn Cunningham and Marcus Jenal spent a week together to think about the future of Systemic Insight. Through research done over the past few years and increased application of the logic in Mesopartner’s day-to-day work, a sizeable body of knowledge and experience around systemic change in markets and economies has grown. The question we wanted to address was how to capture this knowledge and make it accessible to ourselves and others. Part of this work is the piece of research on systemic change we did during 2016, funded by DFID and SDC’s BEAM Exchange. The result of this research was a long technical paper on systemic change and a proposed rethink of the concept from what it currently stands for in the market systems development community. We suggested that systemic change needs to be much more about building resilient systems with much greater long-term impact than about helping a select group of actors overcome a specific challenge. 

Besides that particular piece of research, Marcus has worked quite a bit on operationalising this understanding of systemic change and developing ideas on how to measure it. Shawn, in turn, has spent considerable time developing an extensive method and toolbox on innovation promotion (see here and here). Furthermore, he has reworked a tool to measure the effectiveness of meso organisations that aim to support the competitiveness of an economy.

The picture shows our initial attempt in our quest for modularisation of this knowledge. There is still considerable scope for improvement, particularly as this is a new way of working for us as well. We are currently redesigning our website, which will be relaunched as our main knowledge repository – as soon as we have a minimal viable amount of modules captured, hopefully some time early next year.

If you are interested in this work, let us know. We are keen to build a community around it. At the same time, we are also looking at organisations that find value in this work and are ready to fund some of it. So far, a big part of our research work is self-funded.

Green Building Program Evaluation in Asia

In the fourth quarter 2017 Christian Schoen from Mesopartner led a team of international consultants from the energy efficiency sector to evaluate the Green Building Program In East-Asia Pacific (EAP). Mesopartner conducted the end-of-term review of this regional program in 4 countries (Indonesia, China, Philippines and Vietnam). The program is implemented by IFC and financed by SECO.  

The overall aim of IFC’s EAP Green Building Program is to reduce GHG emissions and improve energy, water and other resource efficiencies associated with new building construction and retrofitting of existing buildings. The program worked with its partners mainly on regulatory (codes) development and enforcement. At a later stage of the program, the Green Building market was shaped by standards that even went beyond Codes, with IFC’s green building voluntary certification platform (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiency – EDGE).

The usual key evaluation criteria were applied: relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact, and sustainability. Key evaluation results are based on both, literature study and interviews with stakeholders in all 4 countries.

Decentralised development approach of Quality Infrastructure in Nepal

The next 3-year phase of PTB’s project in Nepal to strengthen Quality Infrastructure (QI) will start in April 2018 and will have a partial focus on Local and Regional Economic Development by operating on multiple levels (national, regional, local). To support the project design and contribute specific LRED experience Christian Schoen from Mesopartner joined a project appraisal mission to two districts in Western Nepal (Banke, Kailali) in November 2017. The objective of the mission was to identify potentials and starting points for a decentralised development approach and for QI-related cooperation at the sub-national level.

The mission answered the key research questions relating to major features of QI-related framework conditions (macro and micro level perspective), existing capacities of current QI service providers and possible ways to strengthen them (meso level perspective) and identifying quality-related gaps and bottlenecks of the private sector in selected value chains (micro level perspective).

Mission results have shown that QI plays out on all systemic competitiveness levels (including the meta level) and all administrative levels. Interventions should target those levels that most (likely) positively impact competitiveness and income. What these measures are, however, strongly depends on supply and demand gaps for QI services in the value chains targeted. Some of these gaps had been identified during the recent mission of PTB, others still need to be analysed as soon as the value chains are selected jointly with a GIZ partner project in Nepal.

The project design takes place under a currently high level of uncertainty regarding future political and institutional structures in Nepal. A new constitution has recently been passed and is starting to take effect, the provincial / regional administrative level will be re-structured and national and regional election took place at the end of 2017 with results that could redefine political power structures in the country.

Supporting USAID to venture into market systems transformation

November 2017

The USAID Mission in Honduras is starting a big new programme aiming to transform market systems in the country. The Economic Growth team within USAID/Honduras asked Marcus Jenal to support them during the preparation of this programme. His task was twofold. On the one hand, he presented the current state of theory and practice in market systems development, monitoring & evaluation, and learning, to the wider USAID mission staff. On the other hand, he advised the Economic Growth team on how to establish learning processes in the team and an appropriate relationship between the donor team and the implementing team to make sure the programme is implemented in the spirit of continuous learning and adjustment. Marcus also presented the latest thinking on systemic change and how to measure it, based on recent research work done by Mesopartner.

Continuous learning and adjustment is at the heart of Mesopartner’s Systemic Insight logic. Systemic Insight was designed as a logic and process for change agents to instigate change in a complex and dynamic environment. It guides organizations and practitioners through a whole cycle of a change initiative and can be applied in all different fields of economic development like local and regional economic development, (global) value chain development, making markets work for the poor, cluster development, etc. The approach is based on the principles and ideas around intervening in complex systems. It also takes into account that not all problems we face are complex and we need to be able to differentiate between different types of problems as we need to use different strategies to tackle them.

Based on Marcus’ work, USAID in Honduras is recruiting a long-term learning advisor to support the Economic Growth team to better connect with the implementation of the programme, know what is going on in the field, and learn from continuous exploration. We believe that this will allow the USAID Market Systems Transformation programme to be at its most effective, react to opportunities that open up, and continuously adapt to a changing and dynamic context.

Business Support Organisation's foster cluster development in the Caribbean

November 2017

The consortium of Mesopartner PartG and SISTME was selected by the Compete Caribbean Program to assess and strengthen the capabilities of ten (10) selected Business Support Organisations (BSOs) from eight (8) small vulnerable island states (Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines) to promote clusters.

The Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF) is a private sector development program. We work with a broad mix private, public and not-for-profit organisation to deliver innovative and practical solutions that stimulate economic growth, increase productivity and foster innovation and competitiveness. Our projects are executed in thirteen (13) countries across the Caribbean region. CCPF is jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Caribbean Development Bank.

The consultancy has started on November 15th, 2017 and will end in March 2018. It is planned that the consultants support a self-assessment of the BSOs and develop cluster promotion capacity building. Each BSO should be enabled to identify and promote two new clusters. Therefore, the consultants will analyse the already accumulated knowledge of the BSOs in cluster promotion and transfer internationally proven techniques and methodologies of cluster intelligence. The upgrading of existing cooperation networks and the cluster-to-cluster collaboration will be a special focus of these activities.

It is expected that the involvement and cooperation of well-established BSOs will give cluster development in the Caribbean a significant push. Also, the collaboration of different BSOs at the national and regional level will increase networking and knowledge flows to strengthen critical institutions for sustainable development. At the end of the consultancy, each BSO should be promoting at least two (2) additional clusters, and the Caribbean clusters should be much more interconnected to increase together the competitiveness of the whole Caribbean region. 

Attending Analytic-Network Advanced Coach Training

October 2017

Shawn Cunningham applied and was approved to participate in the Analytic-Network Advanced Coaching training that was hosted at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Johannesburg. The training event took place in October over a three day period. The course was presented by Prof Simon Western, an internationally published scholar in leadership and coaching, lecturing at leading business schools around the world. He developed the Analytic-Network Coaching (A-N coaching) system. It is a system that helps clients to develop their personal, authentic leadership approach and strategically influence the networks in which they work, to create positive transformational change. It is based on the first Meta-theory of coaching and is supported by rigorous research and field testing. It draws on psychoanalytic, systems and network theories and compliments the work that Shawn has done on organisational development, change facilitation and leadership decision support. Shawn is now certified and registered with the International Advanced Coaching Network.

Working with dynamic Start-up Hubs and Labs in the Western Balkans

The Western Balkans Region has a lot of start-up potentials in tech- and non-tech areas. During the last years this scene has become stronger mostly without support from their governments. The Open Regional Fund South East Europe from the GIZ will start next year to support this start-up scene through the joint organisation of a start-up academy, the strengthening of local mentor networks in the region, and through a hub bootcamp. The latter will include topics like crowdfunding and cooperation with corporates as well as sustainable business models for hubs. Frank Waeltring from Mesopartner and  Prof. Utz Dornberger from Conoscope and the University of Leipzig facilitated the workshop with 15 hub directors as a group of highly dynamic and motivated partners. The latter can well be defined as change agents in their countries, trying to follow a very implementation-driven way of working. 

Refreshing Development: presentation at the RSA

Marcus Jenal, October 2017

Marcus Jenal had the honour and pleasure of being a speaker on a panel in October at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) in London. The event was titled “Refreshing Development: Making the Case for New Economic Thought in Global Development Policy”. It was part of a whole series of events 10 years after the economic crash in 2007 and supported by the Alumni network of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Marcus' presentation was about transformational economic change and in it he conveyed the basic ideas on how change happens in the economy, wrapped in the example of the “Growing Rubber Opportunities” (GRO) Project Mesopartner has been supporting over the last four years in Myanmar. Read more on Marcus' Blog site.

From Central Planning Economic Development Perspectives to Regional Bottom-up Economic Analysis in Uzbekistan

From right to left: Davron Bekchanow, Frank Waeltring, Avaz Pazilov

Uzbekistan is facing the economic and political challenge of promoting more decentralised development in Uzbekistan. For the last 3 years Mesopartner has been supporting the GIZ in the transfer of more decentralised and business- versus planning driven regional economic analysis approaches. Together we have established a Regional Economic Analysis-Course at the National Administration Academy to teach young municipal and regional government officials in the identification of local competitive advantages and support mechanisms based on the methodologies Mesopartner has already applied in many countries. Mesopartner is now supporting the GIZ in the design of an EU financed regional economic development approach identifying and promoting in 2 regions in Uzbekistan concrete regional economic development in initiatives with an implementation-driven approach. The photo shows the leading regional economic development professor at the National Administration Academy,  Davron Bekchanow (right) and the GIZ project manager Avaz Pazilov (left).

Start-up scene and SME Internationalisation Promotion in the Western Balkans

ORF team during the planning workshop in Sarajevo, June 2017

The Western Balkan region including countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro is an emerging region with a lot of economic potential. Strong economic linkages to the EU market as well as the political EU integration process in these countries are providing opportunities and challenges. Strengthening the start-up scene and the internationalisation of SMEs in the Western Balkan region are new priority fields for the GIZ Open Regional Fund (ORF) for the next 2 years.  Frank Waeltring from Mesopartner and Sabine Heuskel from the GIZ headquarters supported the ORF team in the design of the new program phase and in the identification of priority fields for action. Mesopartner will also be involved in the next few months in supporting the identification of start-up hubs in the region as future partners of the ORF. Mesopartner will also facilitate workshops for the identification of concrete innovation initiatives with these partners in the region.

Cluster and Smart Specialisation Promotion in Scotland

The Highlands and Islands of Scotland are famous for tourism, landscape beauty and their low population density in a large natural reserve. Nonetheless, the Highlands are also famous for their economic development related to creative industries,  Food & Drink products, life sciences and energy sector activities. Ghillean MacLeoud (see photo), cluster development manager from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is promoting new clusters in the region. It is a European Cluster project with other EU regions exchanging on smart specialisation activities within certain sectors and clusters. Frank Waeltring (photo, on the left) is supporting HIE in the design of a road map, the identification of pilot clusters and the moderation of workshops. It is a pleasure working with the HIE as a region which faces many development challenges due to its rural landscape but has also managed to come up with many innovative approaches and products. Mesopartner is looking forward to supporting the HIE in the upcoming months.

Employment opportunities for refugees

Nigerian refugee Davala enjoys an Argentinian hotdog on the street of his vibrant bohemian Buenos Aires neighbourhood, where he dreams of becoming a hip-hop star. © UNHCR/Sub Coop

As part of the Comprehensive Plan for the Promotion of Livelihoods, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has partnered with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to implement market systems analyses in selected countries. The objective of the cooperation between the ILO and UNHCR is to integrate the results and recommendations of the market system analyses into the UNHCR livelihoods program to inform and strengthen the impact and sustainability of livelihood interventions for refugees by UNHCR. The strategic objective of UNHCR's livelihood program is to enable the economic independence of refugees.

Mesopartner and associates are supporting ILO and UNHCR with studies in different countries. The first study was conducted by Zini Godden in South Africa with a territorial focus in the Gauteng Region. Doug Hinson studied the economic situation of refugees in Djibouti and Zambia. Currently, Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke is starting a study in Argentina, with the support Eduardo Codianni and Mijal Saz.

Although the situation in different countries is quite different in terms of the number of refugees and the institutional and economic conditions of the receiving countries, the country studies confirm the importance of “South-south” migration. Contrary to the widespread view of international migration as the movement of people from poor countries to rich countries, around 87% of refugees are located in countries in the south – they don’t move to richer countries in the world.[1]

In the arrival countries, refugees usually face similar challenges to the local population when it comes to finding a job or starting a business. Additionally, they have several disadvantages, beginning with a lack of knowledge of the local language, culture or institutional settings; difficulties obtaining recognition of their skills and experience is another important obstacle. At the same time, employers in the destination countries tend to have little knowledge about the capabilities of refugees, and the special legal status of refugees creates additional uncertainties.

All in all, the employment challenge of refugees is largely a mismatch problem, which requires better information on both sides and demand-oriented skills improvement. This is studied in detail in those economic sectors that are most relevant for refugee employability. However, the employment of refugees needs to be addressed by a wider employment policy that covers the whole population.


Facilitation skills to promote quality African value chains

Mesopartner supports the Technical Cooperation of the National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB) in the user-orientation of National Quality Infrastructure in developing and emerging countries. An important tool to sensitise private sector stakeholder of selected value chains in the CALIDENA methodology.

In July 2017, Dr Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke of Mesopartner, has facilitated the first training for CALIDENA facilitators in Africa. In cooperation with the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and the Exporter Association (FAGE), thirteen professionals from Ethiopia and Ghana were trained in the methodology.

In the following month pilot applications are planned within projects of PTB technical cooperation in the mango value chain in Ghana and in the wheat value chain in Ethiopia.

It is expected that the cooperation between private and public stakeholders around a product helps to enhance collaboration, identify gaps in the existing offer of quality-related services and strengthen finally competitiveness for key sectors of the national economies. 

Designing a LED Project for SDC Bangladesh

Mesopartner has supported the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in designing an innovative, experimental and adaptive LED pilot project in Bangladesh that aims at developing an LED concept and toolkit that is adapted to the specific context of Bangladesh.

Mesopartner’s Christian Schoen and Shawn Cunningham already supported SDC Bangladesh in 2012 in conducting a comprehensive feasibility study for LED in Bangladesh and delivering a preliminary design proposal. Based on this and further deliberations within SDC, Mesopartner was again contracted to finalise the design for the project together with our local partner consultancy Innovision Consulting. For this task, our newest partner Marcus Jenal complemented the Mesopartner team.

The project takes an exploratory approach, since LED as an economic development approach is new to Bangladesh. The context is challenging as the project will be started amidst efforts for government decentralisation that are incomplete and show mixed results. The current set up of local government institutions is a highly complex mix of locally elected and centrally controlled institutions that partly compete on authority, combined with an atmosphere of mistrust between the public sector, businesses and the civil society.

In its strive to reach middle-income status by 2020, Bangladesh, however, needs to move the exclusive focus away from the big cities as economic machines and also strengthen the economies in smaller municipal areas if it wants to be successful. Following an approach to LED that can take into account local specificities, grows out of the local context, and is adaptive by nature will have the biggest chance of successfully establishing LED as an additional approach in the economic development arena of Bangladesh.

Rapid Market Assessment of Responsible Tourism in Vietnam 2017

In order to assess the feasibility of a possible future project ‘Responsible Tourism and Competitiveness in Vietnam’ envisaged by the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) for funding, the ILO has commissioned a consortium of Mesopartner and MCG, Vietnam (Pham Ngoc Linh) to prepare a rapid market assessment (RMA) of Vietnam’s responsible tourism sector. The RMA provided the basis for the development of a detailed project document.

During the last decade, tourism has developed into an important economic sector in Vietnam. Growth rates of international and domestic tourists are staggering. In 2016, 10 million foreign visitors and 62 million domestic tourists travelled in the country. On the other hand, the tourism sector faces serious challenges, not least in terms of lacking sustainability and responsible tourism practices. A variety of development projects by EU, ILO, UNESCO, GIZ and HELVETAS have been focusing on sustainable and responsible tourism in Vietnam in recent years. The RMA study in 2017 now looks at some of their important results, lessons learnt and models developed. An important learning is that capacity building on responsible tourism is a long-term process, particularly when it entails learning completely new skills and changing the mind-set of actors in the tourism value chain. As Vietnam moves beyond being an ‘exotic’ tourism destination and into the tourism mainstream, it stands at a crossroads and must decide to either head in a more responsible and sustainable direction or choose mass tourism accompanied by an unsustainable over-exploitation of fragile assets. As the RMA shows, the constraints, but also the opportunities, for responsible tourism are numerous in the domestic and international tourism value chains, their support functions and regulatory framework in Vietnam.

Based on the RMA results, the consultants (Christian Schoen, Pham Ngoc Linh) recommend continuing efforts of strengthening responsible tourism in Vietnam. A new initiative aimed at improving the competitiveness of the tourism sector through implementation of responsible and climate-smart tourism practices, should be primarily private sector driven, targeting SMEs and cooperatives. Any initiative should target systemic change, i.e. it is more important to widely convince the tourism sector through market incentives—for example, on the business case for responsible tourism—than to impose interventions that are discontinued after a possible project end, since actors do not believe in them and they have little hope for sustainability or scalability.

The RMA study can be found online here

Tourism Value Chain Analysis in Mrauk-U, Rakhine State, Myanmar

Commissioned by ILO’s entrepreneurship program in Myanmar, Mesopartner (Christian Schoen) facilitated a rapid and participatory tourism value chain analysis in Mrauk-U in March 2017. The analysis team has been assessing obstacles and economic potentials of Mrauk-U’s tourism sector and - based on this analysis - identified 18 proposals for action addressing the kind of support tourism companies need directly or indirectly to develop their entrepreneurship potential and become competitive.

The Myanmar Tourism Master Plan characterizes Mrauk-U in Rakhine state as a destination that is suitable for heritage, cultural and creative tourism. Mrauk-U offers plenty of ancient pagodas, temples and other monuments, making it the second most attractive destination for heritage tourism in Myanmar after Bagan. Typical tourist activities are sightseeing, cultural tours, festivals, heritage tours, pilgrimages, culinary tours and experiencing handicraft production. A few years ago, the size of the SME community in the tourism sector in Mrauk-U was considered under-critical, while security and safety risks were preventing the destination from growing according to its potential. Today, growth prospects are very positive and the SME sector has been expanding significantly. Peace and security in the tourism destination do not seem to be an issue. Authorities at all levels (state, district and township) work on planning the development of the location, particularly with regard to its still poor accessibility.

The study concludes that Mrauk-U has great future tourism potential, if current problems are addressed thoroughly. Those problems include the poor image of Northern Rakhine state as tourist destination, the lack of relevant tourist information provided, limited transportation options to and from Mrauk-U, Internet access and quality, waste collection and clean-up of the environment, and a proper maintenance and restoration of the cultural and religious monuments. The 18 VCA proposals address most of these issues, besides specific enterprise support measures.

A mind shift in energy solutions for the green economy of South Africa

May/June 2017

Mesopartner facilitated an exposure tour on the energy revolution in Germany (called “Energiewende” in German) as part of the GIZ South African Skills for Green Jobs (S4GJ) during May/June 2017. The aim was to learn from the activities that are promoted in Germany to move away from coal and atomic power supply of energy towards 80% renewable energy supply by 2050. This challenge demands action and the development of new technological capability especially through a combination of three factors:

  • The identification of concrete and targeted support policies
  • The promotion of innovation in businesses and institutions to enhance new business models as well as new support services
  • The development of new learning networks which promote experimentation through concrete projects

The tour group consisted of representatives from the Department Science and Technology, the Technology Localisation Implementation Unit (TLIU) and Vaal University of Technology (VUT), supported by Mesopartner representatives from South Africa and Germany. Mesopartner in South Africa is focused on promoting innovation systems by strengthening technological capability development and industry competitiveness. Mesopartner in partnership with PEM Consult (Germany) is contracted by GIZ/S4GJ to implement the initiative in conjunction with the Department of Science and Technology and the Technology Localisation Implementation Unit.

Developing young minds for the South African green economy

Kabelo Mamadisa, Vhukhudo Matidza & Hanyani Makhuvele @ BTB Power Station in Berlin

During May 2017 three B-tech mechanical engineering students from Vaal University of Technology (VUT) were sent to Germany for three weeks to gain practical experience after having gone through rigorous training interventions offered by international and local experts and working sessions facilitated by local technical partners to prepare them to become valuable human capital. This initiative is based on the cooperation between the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the GIZ Skills for Green Jobs programme (GIZ/S4GJ) aiming to demonstrate small scale Diesel Dual Fuel (DDF) and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technologies in a plant environment.

During this time the students did their practical industry projects under the guidance of Prof Kühl from the Ostfalia Hochschule (University of Applied Science), Wolfenbüttel. Frank Waeltring organised and accompanied the students during the technical visits to key German companies within this field such as Approvis, AGO, Volkswagen, MAN etc.

Mesopartner in collaboration with PEM Consulting has been appointed to implement this initiative with the long term objective to create a new and improved technological capability in energy efficiency at VUT that will support the broader industry with service offerings in the application of Multi-fuel Combustion and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technologies to start off with. Adrie El Mohamadi is the long term technical expert for the project and Dr Shawn Cunningham is one of the short term experts.

Upgrading National Quality Infrastructure in Myanmar

Since early 2017 Mesopartner has been supporting the German metrology institute PTB in upgrading the national quality infrastructure in Myanmar. Christian Schoen, based in Hanoi, Vietnam and hence only 1.5 flight hours from Yangon, has started to work as intermittent short-term expert to support the management of the PTB project on “Strengthening the Quality Infrastructure (QI) in Myanmar”. 

QI refers to all aspects of metrology, standardisation, testing and quality management (MSTQ), including certification and accreditation.

Management support tasks provided by Mesopartner include facilitation of meetings and workshops, onsite preparation of key events, participation in scoping missions for project extension, overseeing selected project components like metrology services or a new component on developing private sector awareness and demand for QI services in the area of organic agriculture and food safety. In the future, selected agricultural value chains will be assessed with a focus on QI requirements using the CALIDENA approach.The PTB project is tightly coordinated with the counterpart DRI (Department of Research and Innovation) under the Ministry of Education and with other donors active in this field. While PTB is mainly focusing on Metrology, USAID is looking at standardisation and UNIDO at conformity assessment (testing, inspection, certification, accreditation). 

Building up a national QI system involves all levels of systemic competitiveness (micro, meso, macro, meta) and it typically takes a couple of years to show the desired effect by increasing the competitiveness of local companies.The duration of the PTB project takes this into account. It started in 2014 and will last at least until 2020, possibly longer. 

National Quality Policy for Trinidad and Tobago

Mesopartner has successfully applied for a tender to give advice to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) for the development of a National Quality Policy (NQP). The project is promoted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Trinidad and Tobago is a twin island country situated in the Caribbean at the northern edge of the South American mainland. It has 1,349,667 inhabitants, and is the third richest country by GDP (PPP) per capita in the Americas. Unlike most of the English-speaking Caribbean, the country's economy is primarily industrial, with an emphasis on petroleum, gas and petrochemicals.

The National Quality Policy is part of a mayor effort to overcome the dependency of the country on the oil and gas industry and facilitate the diversification of the economy and a broader participation in global trade. Currently, the country already has in place several elements of a National Quality Infrastructure, mainly represented by and within the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS), but its services are broadly demanded especially by the local companies and emerging sectors. The lack of use of quality infrastructure services makes it difficult for trinbagodian firms to be sufficiently productive and compete successfully in international market. In fact, contrary to the political goal of diversification, the non-energy sector is becoming less and less competitive over time and even losing share in the local market.

Our approach to the development of a National Quality System is demand-orientated. Mesopartner works with an international team comprising experts from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Colombia, Argentina and Germany, and a participatory approach of involving key private and public-sector  stakeholders from the outset in policy design. The consultants will conduct in-depth assessments of several key economic sectors to analyse the gaps between the industrial needs and the existing supply of quality services. It is important here to take a systemic view which embraces the interconnectedness of market requirements, legitimate interests of the populations and the services supply in the areas of metrology, standards, accreditation and conformity assessment.

The consultancy will support a policy steering committee with high-level representatives of the public and private sector to redesign the whole institutional setting of quality policy. This includes proposals for a new legal framework, the reorganization of the organizational landscape and practical suggestions for an investment and communication strategy.

Participation in the 4th International Conference on Responsible Leadership

The 4th International Conference on Responsible Leadership was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 15 to 16 March 2017. Hosted by the Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership and the Gordon Institute of Business Science in partnership with the Copenhagen Business School and the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative, the conference brought together nearly 150 speakers and delegates representing government, business, civil society, media and leading academic institutions from across the globe.

Dr Shawn Cunningham participated as a panelist on a discussion about Complexity Leadership in the South African context. The other panelists included Prof Mary Uhl-Bien, Professor of Leadership at Texas Christian University and Dr. Jean Cooper from the Institute for Leadership and Transformation (TILT).  It is expected that the conclusions and academic papers from the conference will be consolidated in a special issue of the Journal of Business Ethics

Moderation of the BRICS Foundry Forum

March 2017

During March, Dr Shawn Cunningham moderated a dialogue session for the BRICS Foundry Forum. The event was held in Johannesburg, South Africa as a pre-conference session to the South African Metal Casting Conference hosted by the South African Institute of Foundrymen. The topic of the dialogue session was about enhancing collaboration to unlock the next generation of foundries. About 80 people attended from South Africa and abroad. The participants were from foundries, industry associations and supporting government programs from the BRICS countries. Other international participants representing international organizations such as the World Foundry Organization, and global supporters of the foundry industry also participated.

This was the 2nd time that Shawn was asked to moderate this international workshop as part of his ongoing support over the last 10 years to the South African and international foundry community. 

Mesopartner organized international IoT-Eco System-Tour in Germany

Dr Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke & Frank Waeltring

The internet of things (IoT), often mentioned also as the key ingredient for the 4th industrial revolution, entails many new business model opportunities. Germany is behind in IoT which also opens up business opportunities for developing countries. For the GIZ in Central America, Mesopartner organised a 2 week IoT-Business Matching Tour in Germany (Berlin, Karlsruhe, Düsseldorf) with 20 IT and game industry businesses from Central America. The objective was to understand and get into contact with the German IoT ecosystem. The results were very encouraging: Several IT businesses were able to create concrete business- and cooperation contacts. Based on the concrete insights and contact network that was created, they obtained deep insights into the German IoT status and business culture. One of the entrepreneurs from Costa Rica active in managing Big Data expressed it like this: “We came here to sell our products. And we partly succeeded. But what was more important was to get into concrete networks and communication with humans from businesses and relevant institutions. It is highly valuable to understand the cultural aspects of making businesses in Germany. If you are understand how the human aspect works, you can find many opportunities here, even and especially in regard to IoT!”.  See also the related web site

LRED in fragile and refugee contexts: Mesopartner moderated GIZ Conference

December 2016

Mesopartner is well known for its expertise in local and regional economic development (LRED) and the design of implementation- and competitiveness-oriented methodologies and bottom-up initiatives. In December, the GIZ headquarters in Eschborn organized a Conference on the role of LRED in fragile and refugee contexts. The event itself was facilitated and moderated by Frank Waeltring from Mesopartner. After plenary discussions and inputs from GIZ, ILO, and Mercy Corps, small break-out sessions with practitioners provided the chance to exchange about experiences, opportunities, risks and requirements for LRED in such complex environments. One of the key learnings of the event was that acting in fragile and refugee contexts requires a much more flexible and explorative approach to LRED. While traditional LRED methodologies can help to overcome rather simple issues (e.g. infrastructure development, set-up of funding schemes etc.), more complex and network-driven initiatives in these unstable environments will require more space for exploration. Safe to fail experiments will play an important role in this regard. The latter provide the opportunity to better understand the local power- and system relations, to test the boundaries of what is possible as well as to start acting with small initiatives that do no harm but can be scaled up once they find the right support by the relevant local stakeholders.  

Mesopartner is currently writing a short Conference paper to document the findings and to provide a conceptual framework in this respect.  

Business skills demand assessment in the Tanzanian Service Sector: Matching Industry Demand with Training Supply

Training students in hotel management, catering and food processing within vocational institutes is relatively easy. Doing this in a way that matches the demand of the industry is a challenge. Mesopartner did a skills needs assessment in the service sector in Tanzania. Based on more than 20 interviews with businesses in the catering-, cleaning-, transport- and security sectors, demands for specific skills trainings were identified. 

Many developing countries face the challenge of providing more demand-driven skills. The GIZ and its East African oriented SOGA program promotes value chains that can directly benefit from the expected oil and gas boom in the region. The service sectors mentioned above already have benefited from infrastructure investments and from increasing influx of investors. But the growth of these services also requires a higher number of skilled workers as well as input products.  By promoting new short term courses and matching initiatives, the GIZ seeks to provide targeted support to make sure that local people benefit from the new emerging economic market and income opportunities. The potentials are huge. If they are not used locally, products, quality and people will come from Kenya and other countries leaving Tanzanian people without further benefits.

The Mesopartner Team participated in the 19th TCI Global Conference in Eindhoven, Netherlands, from 8 to 10 November

Marcus Jenal, Shawn Cunningham, Frank Waeltring, Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke

Around 400 cluster managers, policy makers and researchers gathered to discuss the challenges for innovation clusters.

The local hosts were Brainport, a development agency leading the structural change in Eindhoven Region, and Wageningen University, a leader in agro-industry research. Both combined in a complementary way the economic reality of this densely populated and intensively used area, which highly competitive in different so called "top sectors".

The conference started with a study tour day. Our Mesopartner team split off and joined two tours: the Agrifood tour and the High Tech tour.

Both tours illustrated the pragmatic and highly innovative approach of collaboration in the Netherlands. We saw a great openness to break up and recombine products, inputs and processes and an extremely productive synergy of scientific research and commercial spirit.

Ulli, Frank, Marcus, and Shawn all made presentations during the Working Day of the conference, and Mesopartner actively participated in many other sessions and work streams during the conference.

Shawn presented on how knowledge in clusters can be leveraged for innovation:

Frank presented on change in cities and spaces

Mesopartner´s 10th Year Master Class Anniversary at Hanoi University of Technology

During the last 10 years Mesopartner provided annually a Seminar in Hanoi at the International Masters Course of Small Enterprise Development (SEPT) of the University of Leipzig. "Local and Regional Economic Development and Competitiveness” is the topic at the Hanoi University of Technology. 14 Vietnamese students took part in the seminar in November 2016. It will be the last class in Hanoi given by Frank Waeltring. It is time to hand it over to other colleagues and to discover new ground. Frank will continue teaching at the University in Leipzig and at the Jacobs-University Bremen on topics like Innovation Economics, Development Economics and the Promotion of Local and Regional Innovation Systems.  Thanks to the colleagues from SEPT for the opportunity to work with you over these years in Hanoi and Ho-Chi Minh-City.

Tourism Value Chain Analysis in Myeik, Myanmar

November 2016

Myanmar is currently facing a rapid increase in tourist arrivals, which has the potential to create significant positive impacts on job creation and poverty reduction.  However, some of Myanmar’s primary tourist sites like Bagan or Inle Lake are already under environmental and social pressure from the effects of tourism, which is affecting the livelihoods of local inhabitants and long-term viability of these places as tourism destinations. Myeik and the pristine Mergui archipelago in the far South of the country still have the chance to go a more sustainable way when developing the tourism business. After having conducted rapid, participatory tourism value chain assessments (VCA) in the beach resorts Chaung Thar and Ngwe Saung (2014), Bagan (2015) and Kyaing Ton (2015), the ILO Tourism Entrepreneurship Program in Myanmar (funded by SECO) in coordination with the Myanmar Tourism Federation selected Myeik as the next destination to be analysed in November 2016. Like in previous tourism VCAs, Mesopartner (Christian Schoen) was engaged as lead consultant to facilitate the process and guide a team of local consultants and stakeholders through the assessment. The research methodology applied is a rapid, participatory tourism value chain and market system analysis approach, which allows for assessing economic growth potential of the tourism sector and its sub-sectors, providing strategies to overcome obstacles and tap into potential, and bringing local stakeholders together in a joint effort to strengthen the tourism sector. The VCA team has identified 14 proposals for action that address the kind of support that tourism companies and potential entrepreneurs need directly or indirectly to develop their entrepreneurship potential and become competitive in a sustainable way. The ILO will monitor implementation closely and will support activities that are related to business management and entrepreneurship training.

Assessing the Regional Management approach of GIZ in Cambodia

August 2016

Since 2007, the Regional Economic Development (RED) Program of GIZ in Cambodia has introduced the Regional Management (RM) approach and adapted it to the Cambodian context. The objective of RM is a process of sustainable regional development. The RM concept assumes that regional government cannot achieve regional development on its own. The participatory, bottom-up and cooperative features of RM suggest instead that a larger range of actors within a region needs to get involved. In Europe, where the RM approach originates, a typical example of a facilitative variety of RM is the EU initiative LEADER, which was an innovative EU structural policy instrument for about two decades. In 2016, the GIZ RED program decided that the sustainability of RM achievements in the pilot province Siem Reap as well as the transferability of the RM approach to new provinces needed to be assessed. Mesopartner (Christian Schoen) conducted this assignment in August 2016, which not only included the RM assessment in the Cambodian context, but also the development of scenarios on how RM (or an alternative LRED approach) could look like in the future in other provinces of Cambodia. Finally, the integration of RM with the other two components of the RED programme (value chain development, local governance) needed to be analysed and recommendations made for improved collaboration.

Social Lab Training and Event on Lombok, Indonesia

October 2016

Mesopartner is a consortium partner in GIZ’s Sustainable Regional Economic Growth and Investment Programme (SREGIP) in Indonesia. Among the innovations SREGIP strives to introduce is the development of capacities for a self-organised network on sustainability issues (Social Lab) in the province of Nusa Tengarra Barat (NTB). This includes the support of the hospitality businesses on Gili Trawangan - a tiny, but very tourism-oriented island close to Lombok - in order to improve the carbon footprint through a Social Lab initiative. Mesopartner had identified different instruments and tools that local stakeholders could use to steer the Social Lab innovation process and to moderate workshops throughout this process on Gili Trawangan in particular and NTB in general. In an intensive 3-day Social Lab Event and Training in the middle of October 2016, the Mesopartner consultant Christian Schoen (in cooperation with AMC Indonesia) introduced various workshop moderation and process facilitation tools and guided a team of moderators through a multi-stakeholder Social Lab workshop to discuss issues and find solutions around solid waste management on Gili Trawangan. The tools introduced during the training included - among others - scenario writing, Kotter’s 8 step change facilitation tool and the Cynefin sense-making framework to make decisions under uncertainly.

Innovation promotion in rural settings in Bavaria/Germany

October 2016

Mesopartner has designed many study tours on regional innovation, structural change and green economic development. In October, we organized a study tour for economic development representatives from Kyrgyzstan on innovation in rural areas in South Bavaria. It is a well-known region for innovation since it combines tourism and agricultural development, further processing of products and local marketing, as well as the organization of whole value chains related to ecologically certified products.  Visits to different stakeholders active in policy promotion, service support and business networking provided an insight into the Bavarian rural innovation system. The objective of the tour was to provide a system perspective on local and rural economic development and key elements for successful and sustainable economic development.   

Master-Class on the Development of Technological Capabilities and Territorial Competitiveness

Picture with students during an exercise and as a group

Mesopartner (Frank Waeltring) provides annually a Seminar at the International Masters Course on Small Enterprise Development (SEPT) of the University of Leipzig. 25 students from 15 different nationalities are taking part in this English-speaking Master degree.  The course this year focused on the reflection on innovation and competitiveness requirements in territories and the importance of developing technological capabilities in complex contexts. It emphasizes the challenge faced by many developed and developing countries when it comes to creating ways to increase knowledge flows to ultimately contribute to value addition and new learning in a regional as well as national economy. Technological capabilities not only require access to physical technology but also the social structures and network culture to enable knowledge creation and knowledge flows. 

LED as a mandatory course in the National Administration Academy of Uzbekistan

Mesopartner (Frank Waeltring) supported the national Administration Academy of Uzbekistan in integrating a 62-hour course on Territorial Competitiveness and regional change. Professors from the Academy were coached over a period of 7 months. The course itself was held for around 30 students. More decentralized approaches to economic development in Uzbekistan will be decisive for the near future to overcome centralistic and planning-driven economic development promotion.  The Academy decided in October 2016 to make it a mandatory course from now on for all the younger administration leaders in the regions of Uzbekistan.

Local Content Development in Uganda

Oil extraction in Uganda

Planned oil and gas investments in East African countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique have provided good development opportunities for the countries. The GIZ together with DFID is supporting skills development and business development in regions close to extracting zones. Mesopartner together with PEM Consult GmbH is leading the analysis of local content development opportunities especially for female employees and businesswomen. This involves looking into gender-sensitive value chains like construction, catering or tourism and identifying business opportunities in territories with improved infrastructure and new emerging markets. The analysis in Uganda has concluded that there are many new local business opportunities emerging in the regions around the larger oil and gas investments. At the same time, to identify specific skills demand, it is necessary to establish closer direct contact with businesses in the different supplier chains of the oil and gas extraction industry. 

Workshop with regional economic development agency in Germany

Frank Waeltring

The Steinfurt district in Northrhine-Westphalia is a dynamic economic territory. The district agency for economic development is active in business and start-up promotion. A Mesopartner workshop with the team from the agency sought to reflect on entry points for the promotion of further  innovation initiatives in the region. One of the key joint findings in workshops like these is the importance of engagement by the team itself to gain a closer insight into businesses and their market realities as well as an openness to experiment in the field.

Bachelor Theses with Mesopartner on Local German Innovation Systems in Rural Territories

Students and representatives of the Local Economic Development Agency in Rheine (Germany)

3 students from Jacobs University in Bremen did their Bachelor thesis with Mesopartner on innovation promotion in rural settings in Northrhine-Westphalia and Bremen. Related to a Development Economics course provided by Mesopartner’s Frank Waeltring at Jacobs University, the students analyzed in detail the innovation system in the district of Steinfurt, the wind energy cluster in the city of Rheine and the Maritime Cluster in Bremen. The students received strong support from the economic development agencies in the respective district or city.

Development Economics at Jacobs University Bremen

Students of the Development Economics course on graduation day

Jacobs University is an English-speaking University in Bremen/Germany with a high international reputation. Mesopartner provided a whole semester course on Development Economics combining practice and theory on key economic aspects. Three students did their bachelor thesis on regional innovation promotion with Mesopartner, analyzing German towns and regions and their business and innovation orientation. 

Supporting economic change in Bangladesh

October 2016

In October 2016, Mesopartner (Marcus Jenal) supported the Making Markets Work for the Jamuna, Padma and Teesta Chars (M4C) in Bangladesh. The aim of the assignment was to develop a framework for assessing change in the economic systems of the areas they target. The framework that was developed drew from earlier work Mesopartner did in collaboration with Katalyst and from a research report Mesopartner is working on for the BEAM Exchange.

The proposed M4C systemic change framework defines systemic change as transformational change happening through a regime shift in a complex system. It is built around categories of enabling factors that make this shift happen in order to show significant effects. The framework consequently consists of three elements, namely categories of enabling factors leading to transformational change, assessed by its significance.

Interview on knowledge for innovation

October 2016

During October Dr Shawn Cunningham was interviewed by Richard Angus (CEO The Finance Team) on the Business Masterclass programme on The topic of the interview was about concepts on knowledge and knowledge management that are relevant for business leaders. Listen to the podcast here.

During the 30-minute interview, they talked about several knowledge concepts, like the distinction between tacit knowledge and codified knowledge and why this matters. Shawn explained how knowledge creation can be enhanced to improve innovation.

This interview is based on the article that he wrote earlier this year for the University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Education newsletter.

Systemic change in market systems development

Market systems development programmes aim to achieve systemic change. However, the communities that use market systems approaches have struggled to define what constitutes systemic change and the pathways to achieve it. There is a commonly expressed feeling that the way current market systems development programmes devise their interventions does not reflect a good understanding of how market systems work (or fail) and how change happens in economic and interconnected systems. The lack of a common understanding of what constitutes systemic change and how change happens in (market) systems negatively influences the way programmes are funded and designed and also poses challenges to programme monitoring and evaluation.

Leading the research is a consortium of organisations led by IDS and including Mesopartner, Itad and Palladium. The aim is to achieve conceptual clarity on systemic change. Read more on the BEAM Exchange website.

Gender Sensitive Value Chain in Israel

September 2016

Since early 2016, Mesopartner, funded by the Swiss organization Cfd, has been supporting an Israëli NGO to introduce the Gender Sensitive Value Chain (GSVC) approach in order to promote the economic integration of Bedouin women from the Negev Desert. The process started with a three day training of practitioners for the NGO staff, which made it possible to introduce the main value chain concepts and tools and to select a promising value chain to develop with a business orientation. A GSVC analysis was conducted in September 2016 by some of the NGO staff and Valérie Hindson, as Mesopartner associate, to investigate the potential to grow naturally seasonal vegetables from the desert gardens. This initiative enabled the project to obtain support from both Arab and Jewish communities, as well as local experts in agriculture and potential clients and from the public institutions. A dozen safe to fail experiments and quick win activities have been planned as a result of the analysis, which will be evaluated early in 2017. For more information on the project, please contact Valérie Hindson 

Evaluation of 8 Value Chains in 8 Provinces of Vietnam

During the first half of 2016, Mesopartner and MCG (Vietnam) jointly evaluated SDC’s MARP Program (Market Access for the Rural Poor through Value Chain Promotion) in Vietnam. This 3-year program saw 4 implementing agencies (Helvetas, SNV, Oxfam and VietTrade) upgrade 8 value chains in 8 provinces in the North and Northern Center of Vietnam. The value chains included ancient broad-leaf tea, various spices, bamboo, rattan and ethnic textiles. Each project under MARP focused on 3 output areas: improving linkages between farmers, processors and buyers, upgrading product quality and enhancing the enabling environment. More than 90% of the 24,000 supported households are ethnic minorities and almost half of them female-headed. About two thirds of targeted households experienced - partly significant - income increase. The poverty rate sank from 36% to 25%. All in all, the MARP program is considered successful thanks to the specific features of the "MARP model”, such as capacitating processing and trading enterprises within value chains to take on lead roles in value chain upgrading. The model might be re-applied in the future in Vietnam in order to continue attacking the consistent pockets of poverty among ethnic minorities in mountainous areas.

Mesopartner participates in The World Manufacturing Forum

May 2016, Barcelona

During the first week of May 2016, Shawn Cunningham participated in the World Manufacturing Forum international conference. The event was held over two days in Barcelona and was supported by the EU. The World Manufacturing Forum (WMF) is an internationally-recognised assembly which aims to shape global, regional, national and industry-specific manufacturing policy. This highly-regarded and invitation-only annual event also explores industry megatrends and provides high-level networking opportunities. The 2016 WMF was the fourth big-budget edition to assemble global policy experts, industry leaders from large multinationals to small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and academic leaders to discuss the policy, economic, social and technical challenges that influence global manufacturing. The WMF is an initiative of the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) Programme and is supported financially by the European Commission (EC). Some of the topics discussed involved the evolution of the Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, the increased importance and effects of digital manufacturing as well as recent developments in the circular economy.

Mesopartner visits German National Metrology Institute, Physikalisch-Technische

Bundesanstalt in Braunschweig/ Germany June 2016

On Tuesday, June 29 Mesopartner visited the German Metrology Institute/ Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, PTB in Brunswick to intensify collaboration. Mesopartner has been supporting PTB’s Technical Cooperation Group (Q.5.) for more than a decade to ensure that the development of Quality Infrastructure is related more to the needs of consumers and the business sector. A visible product of this collaboration is the CALIDENA ( ) methodology, which was developed with the Latin America and Caribbean Group (Q.53).

Mesopartner took the opportunity to learn more about the technical capabilities of PTB by visiting its Division of Electromagnetic Fields and Antenna Measuring Techniques. Dr. Kai Baaske, a metrology scientist, explained to the visitors how to improve the ability of electronic apparatus and devices to function properly in a given electromagnetic environment without disturbing this environment too much through their own emissions.

The visit ended with a meeting between the Mesopartner team and the heads of the PTB Technical Cooperation Groups for Asia (Q.52), Middle East and North Africa (Q.54) and Sub-Saharan Africa (Q.55) and both parts identified several opportunities to intensify their collaboration.

Economic development for protected wildlife areas

Costa Rica is known as a forerunner in sustainable development. The Central American country is a well-positioned destination for Green tourism, implements unique environmental policies and plans to be carbon neutral by 2028. To comply with the commitment to fighting climate change Costa Rica is working actively on reforestation and biodiversity. The German Development Agency, GIZ, is supporting the National Agency for Conservation Areas/ Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación (SINAC), helping it  to establish more than a hundred (100) connecting structures - so called wildlife or biological corridors - between conservation areas.

The SINAC and GIZ are highly experienced in the area of conservation. Nevertheless, they became aware that traditional protective actions are necessary but not sufficient to stop the loss of biodiversity. Therefore they commissioned Mesopartner to develop a territorial economic development concept which involves the local business sector in order to contribute to the conservation objectives.

Based on the company’s experience with participatory approaches to promoting territorial competitiveness, Dr. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke has helped the partners to develop an explicitly green concept of LED. The key is the promotion of green entrepreneurship and innovation within diverse stakeholder dialogue platforms (“agoras”). Local business should become more aware of and benefit from the conversation involving the ecosystems. Possible tensions between economy and ecology should be overcome by environmentally conscious entrepreneurs and provide win-win solutions.

After the approval of the proposal by the clients, it is planned to pilot the new methodology in several (3 to 4) biological corridors. If the experiments prove successful, the territorial economic development approach could be integrated into the general planning procedures. 

Link to film

Evaluation of Helvetas’ Regional Shan Tea Project

April 2016

Three different varieties of broad leaf Shan Tea grow in the mountainous areas of Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and China: ancient, wild and cultivated Shan Tea. During the last 3 years Helvetas has worked on upstream and downstream support activities to actors operating in Shan Tea value chains with the final objective of improving the income and living conditions of Shan Tea farmers, who are mostly ethnic minorities in their respective countries and for whom Shan Tea is their only cash income. In April 2016, Christian Schoen from Mesopartner was contracted by Helvetas to evaluate the previous project approach and results and to help design the second phase of the regional Shan Tea project, which is expected to again cover the countries Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. The concept note will be submitted to the SDC, which has already financed the first project phase.

Tourism Value Chain Analysis Training in Myanmar

March 2016

Between 14 and 17 March 2016, Mesopartner provided a 4-day Tourism VCA training module as part of a more comprehensive 5-week ToT for regional tourism consultants organised by GIZ. The training took place in Nyaung Shwe at Inle Lake in Southern Shan State. The trainer, Christian Schoen, specifically stressed his experience gained from conducting rapid, participatory tourism value chain analyses in 2014/2015 in different tourism destinations in Myanmar (Chaung Thar, Ngwe Saung, Bagan) for an ILO entrepreneurship development programme operating in the tourism sector.

New Industrial Policy for Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small country in Central America. In relation to most of its neighbours, its economy is more developed and it is currently preparing to become part of the community of industrialized countries (OECD).

Costa Rica is known for ambitious political experiments. The country renounced its armed forces, and this was in a region which suffered decades of civil war and whose neighbors are still suffering very high levels of violence.

It is also a forerunner of sustainable development and a well-positioned destination for green tourism. To mitigate climate change, the country is currently following a plan to become carbon neutral by 2028.

Mesopartner (Dr Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke) was commissioned by GIZ to support Costa Rica’s Ministry.

New project to reduce carbon fuel consumption in manufacturing while building new technological capability in South Africa

March 2016

Mesopartner in collaboration with PEM Consulting has been appointed to implement Experiential Learning Projects (ELP) on behalf of the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). One of these is a 15-month project seeking to lay the foundation for the Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) Renewable and Energy Efficiency platform. In the short term the project aims to significantly reduce carbon consumption at Danone SA. The longer term objective is to create a new and improved technological capability in energy recycling at VUT that will support the broader industry with service offerings in the application of Multi-fuel Combustion and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technologies. The project kicked off with a study tour to Hamburg, Germany, which took place from 6 – 11 March 2016.  The intention of the tour was to forge relationships with technical centres and experts who will be closely involved in the project implementation, training and oversight of Master Students. Three Mesopartner colleagues are part of this project; Adrie El Mohamadi has been appointed as the long term technical expert for the project, Dr Shawn Cunningham is one of the short term experts and Frank Waeltring alongside Henning Bungarts (PEM Consulting) is responsible for the selection and collaboration of German technical centres and experts.

Mid-term evaluation of ‘the lab’ at the ILO

Image source: Wikimedia, author BiiJii, some rights reserved (

In February, Marcus Jenal visited the ILO offices in Geneva as part of the mid-term evaluation of ‘the lab’, an innovative project of the SME unit in the Enterprise Department of the ILO. The lab supports value chain development programmes within and beyond the ILO to apply a more systemic intervention approach, become better at selecting and analysing sectors for intervention, and effectively monitor and measure the results of their interventions. The lab is also enabling research into how to create and measure the creation of decent jobs through value chain development initiatives. The mid-term evaluation will not only assess whether the lab is on track with achieving its intended results, but will also look into the effectiveness and sustainability of the current set-up of the lab and provide input to a potential next phase.

Redesigning Visitor Monitoring Approach in Lombok, Indonesia

January 2016

Mesopartner is part of a consortium that supports GIZ In Indonesia to implement SREGIP (Sustainable Regional Economic Growth and Investment Programme) aiming at improving the value addition, inclusiveness and environmental sustainability of 100 SMEs and 5,000 Smallholders in the rubber and pepper sectors in West Kalimantan and the tourism sector in Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) province. As part of the support to the Provincial Tourism Board in NTB to provide improved public services on tourism data collection and publication, SREGIP decided to provide a technical expert (Christian Schoen, Mesopartner) for the development process of an appropriate visitor monitoring methodology in the last week of January 2016.  Christian researched on good practices to determine tourist numbers in various tourism destinations prior to the mission, conducted interviews on Lombok and gave inputs and moderation services at two workshops. The result is a modified monitoring approach by which domestic and foreign visitors are counted at certain entry/exit gates, profiled through supporting quantitive data and surveyed to receive qualitative information. The new approach will be piloted over the next 4 to 5 months.

Technology roadmapping in South Africa


Mesopartner is supporting the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Roadmapping process of the South African Department of Science and Technology. Shawn Cunningham is working specifically with the Advanced Electronics roadmapping team to provide support with industry mobilization, documentation and strategy development. The purpose of the advanced manufacturing roadmap is to make it possible for the Department of Science and Technology to better integrate public support and investment directed towards the advanced manufacturing sector.

The roadmapping process involves a series of workshops with manufacturers and researchers to develop a vision for each technology and develop possible paths to achieve the vision. A valuable part of the process are the conversations taking place between scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs in order to better understand possible application areas, technology and knowledge bases, and where the public sector should focus its attention.

Mesopartner @ TCI Conference

November 2015

Mesopartner attended and contributed to the 18th Global TCI Conference that took place in Daegu, South Korea from the 3rd to the 6th of November. The theme of the conference was the role of clusters in a creative economy. Four partners and a close collaborator made presentations at the conference, and Mesopartner also supported several sessions and discussions. Frank gave a presentation about Promoting Competitive Territorial Living Spaces. Christian presented an approach to making clusters more climate smart. Ulli and Nadine Barthel made a presentation about their work in the video gaming industry. Shawn presented two instruments from the complexity field that can be used to detect and strengthen emerging clusters.

Mesopartner will attend the 2016 TCI conference which will be held in Eindhoven.

Below are the links to the presentations made by Mesopartner

Incentives and Support Policies for the Video Game Industry and Clusters in Different Countries. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke & Nadine Barthel, Mesopartner PartG, Germany

Promoting Competitive Territorial Living Spaces and the Need To Overcome Simplistic “Urban-Rural”as well as “Social and Economic Innovation” Divide. Frank Waeltring, Mesopartner PartG, Germany

Climate Smart Clusters. Christian Schoen, Mesopartner PartG, Germany

Strengthening the evolutionary potential of clusters: Shifting from responding to anticipating what is next possible. Shawn Cunningham, Mesopartner, South Africa

Supporting market development in Myanmar

October 2015

During October, Marcus Jenal and Shawn Cunningham visited the GRO M4P Programme implemented by Care in Myanmar. The programme targets the rubber value chain. Marcus and Shawn presented a training programme over 4 days, and provided advice and technical inputs to the Care management team in Myanmar. Over the next 6 months Mesopartner will continue to support the team leader and team in their implementation.

Moving from an LED approach to a more innovation-driven system approach in Armenia

October 2015

Mesopartner has a long history in supporting friends and colleagues in Armenia in promoting local economic development approaches in the country. We cooperated on designing the national SME strategy over the last few years but were also supported in particular by our colleagues and associates in Armenia like Varazdat Karapetyan, PEM and GIZ in the implementation of more than 70 PACA exercises in different communities. In October 2015, we carried out a review of the past experiences and realized that it is time in Armenia to promote a more innovation system- and regional economic development approach. The many PACA and LED experiences have contributed to a solid base of knowledge and also success. At the same time it is clearly necessary to promote more innovation-driven local economic development approaches as well as to take on the lens of identifying outliers. This means businesses and supporting institutions that are innovative despite many dysfunctional aspects in the system. We have embarked on a joint path of explorative approaches.

Promoting a more exploration-based approach vs. planning-based approach to regional economic development in Uzbekistan

October 2015

In October 2015, Mesopartner (Frank Waeltring) provided a 4-day interactive lecture at the National Academy of Administration of Uzbekistan on the role of local and regional public administrations in the promotion of local competitive advantages. In contrast to the existing centralized planning approach in Uzbekistan, the seminar introduced more business-, complexity- and exploration-oriented approaches to regional economic development. 160 students from the Academy participated in the seminar. The assignment will also involve a German Study Tour in November 2015 for the Professors of the Academy to get to know more decentralized and business-driven economic development approaches.

Facilitating Strategy Workshop in Timor-Leste

October 2015

In October 2015 Mesopartner (Christian Schoen) designed and facilitated the Strategy & Planning Workshop of the Innovative Employment Promotion (IEP) project of GIZ in Timor-Leste. The key task was to moderate a process that helps the project team and the partners translate the mid-term review report into a concrete strategic plan of action for the remainder of the project life.

Tourism Value Chain Analysis in Bagan, Myanmar

August-September 2015

In August/September 2015 Mesopartner (Christian Schoen) supported the ILO project “Supporting Tourism in Myanmar through Business Management training” (funded by SECO) to conduct a rapid, participatory tourism value chain analysis of the prime tourism destination Bagan. To diagnose strengths/opportunities and bottlenecks of the Bagan tourism value chain and its tourism enterprises a combination of PACA process and Market System Framework logic was applied. A special emphasis was put on analysing the administrative and regulatory environment, in which tourism SMEs are operating in Bagan in particular and Myanmar in general. 

Breakfast presentation with Prof Dave Snowden

August 2015

On the 21st of August, Mesopartner in collaboration with the Aluminium Federation of South Africa (AFSA) and Cognitive Edge, hosted a breakfast event where Prof Dave Snowden was the main speaker. 

The participants represented various engineering and manufacturing membership organisations and manufacturers. Prof Snowden, with his usual illustrative stories, urged the business people to be more sensitive to the different styles of leadership that are needed in different contexts. For instance, using rituals to get workers to engage in a safety critical behaviour will in many cases work better than checklists, signs and rules. He explained why in complex adaptive systems there is no causality, as the system is constantly changing and adapting. The only way to lead in a complex environment is to create portfolios of safe2fail experiments to test multiple competing hypotheses. Prof Snowden emphasized that designing an ideal state and then working to close the gap between the present and the idealised state is bound to fail (or have unintended consequences) in human systems. However, in engineered or mechanical systems this is the appropriate approach. A closing comment made by Prof Snowden that led to small groups of people staying behind talking long after he had left was about how to focus on creating creative interconnections or relations between people, rather than trying to target objects or people directly in change processes.

This event is part of a series of events that Mesopartner is collaborating with Cognitive Edge on as part of our Systemic Insight applied research in complexity.

LED Programme Evaluation and New Programme Formulation in Papua/West Papua Indonesia

April-June 2015

How to  identify and design business development strategies and market potentials of local products produced by indigenous Papuans in Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia? This was one of the key question to be answered by component 3 of the People-Centred Development Programme (PCDP) of UNDP in Indonesia (2011-2015, funded by NZ Aid). Christian Schoen from Mesopartner together with a national consultant (Pak Mukti Asikin) were commissioned by UNDP between April and June 2015 to find out whether this question had been answered by PCDP in a relevant, effective, efficient, sustainable way, generating visible impact. The final programme review was combined with the formulation of  a new LED programme for both provinces to be implemented by UNDP in future.

Mesopartner advises Digital Animation and Video Game Industry in Central America

July 2015

Mesopartner was selected in a competitive tendering process to advice the Digital Animation and Video Game Industry in Costa Rica and Guatemala. The objective of the consultancy is to support local industry and policy makers in the design of incentive schemes and other policy instruments to promote these upcoming audiovisual industries in both Central-American countries.

The consulting is conducted by an international, multidisciplinary team. The activities include a participatory assessment of the current development stage of the business ecosystems of both industries and of the corresponding support policy in the two countries. The Central-American experience will be related to international experiences of leading countries in the areas of Digital Animations and Video Games. The Benchmark countries are Argentina, Basil, Canada, Colombia, Germany, South Korea and Spain. The consultants will distillate different models of support policies and present a menu of appropriate instruments which fits to the specific needs of the industry of the industries in the selected Central-American countries.

The project is part of broader support activities within the GIZ program (FACILIDAD) to foster the competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the region. The presentation of the project findings and recommendations is scheduled for late September 2015.

Contact: Dr. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke (Project manager)


Assisting manufacturers to upgrade process technology

June 2015

During June Dr Shawn Cunningham accompanied several dozen South African foundries to a technology fair in Germany. These companies were searching for and evaluating process technology to modernize their production facilities. Shawn's role was to assist companies to assess various technologies such as industrial scale 3D printing, non-destructive testing, reverse engineering and flexible manufacturing technologies. This mission was covered by several different clients which include South African Programmes to promote local procurement, a university of technology where Shawn is a research associate, and industry associations involved in the promotion of the metals sector in South Africa. Over the last seven years Shawn has worked intensely with the metals sector in South Africa (and abroad) and the promotion of the innovation system and research partners in the traditional manufacturing sector.

Instigating innovation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

May 2015

Over the last two years Mesopartner have been supporting the Economic Development Agency in Banja Luka with several value chain and sector development studies. During May, Dr. Shawn Cunningham trained the project coordinators and sector experts of EDA on Mesopartners latest capacity building offer called Instigating Innovation. This course takes the Innovation Systems offering of Mesopartner further and assists development intermediaries to develop innovation management approaches that can also be applied and transferred to industry.


23 April 2015

Ultimately, it is the people who make the difference. In March 2015 Frank Waeltring visited colleagues from a PACA project initiated in 2007 in Kalisizo/Uganda. It is impressive what the former partners have developed over the subsequent years. They started with the first PACA initiatives but then moved on to design their own additional projects  and also institutionalized the process. They created an NGO as the leading management body, developed different exchange and coaching networks of enterprises in different sectors, organized successful cooperatives with up to 450 members, developed peer educators through capacity development by the team who started the PACA analysis in 2007. Several business men and women in the team opened up new hotels and B&Bs as well as attractive community tourism projects. It is nice to see that, despite moments of crisis, Kalisizo has always continued to move on in its LED process. And the most motivated and dynamic stakeholders are still there, still the drivers of an iterative change.

Synthesis and Evaluation Workshop on LED

January 2015

Christian Schoen facilitated a 2-day workshop at Mekong Institute (MI) in Thailand on the assessment of localized LED trainings at provincial level along the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) in Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. The localized trainings were the follow-up to an LED ToT implemented by MI in cooperation with Mesopartner in April 2013 aiming at improving LED capacities along the EWEC. This capacity development program is funded by SDC.

New Mesopartner publication

December 2014

The German Eco-system for start-up promotion: New trends in incubation, technology promotion and business angel networks  

Germany is not the most successful country in the promotion of start-ups. Nonetheless its eco-system for economic and innovation promotion is highly institutionalized and decentralized. Frank Waeltring (Mesopartner) and Prof. Utz Dornberger (SEPT-University Leipzig) published a study on this German eco-system looking at new trends in the incubation and business angel sphere. The study was done for the GIZ in India who is involved in the promotion of innovative start-up promotion approaches. The paper includes 20 case studies from financial as well as technology and incubation approaches in Germany and proves a comprehensive overview about the current state of development. The paper can be downloaded here.

South African Information tour to Germany

October 2014

During October Mesopartner arranged and supported a GIZ funded information tour to Germany. The participants consisted of senior decision makers from Universities, Universities of Technology, the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Higher Education and Training in South Africa. Shawn Cunningham and Frank Waeltring were contracted to identify university and research centres in Northrhine-Westfalia and Berlin and were responsible for the logistics and tour arrangements. The participants were particularly interested in how various kinds of technology centres hosted by universities worked to connect industry with academia and researchers.

The tour was part of the work programme of 'The Technology Transfer, Innovation and Diffusion' project component implemented by GFA on behalf of the Skills Development for Climate and Environment Business – “Green Jobs” GIZ Program in South Africa.

Supporting an industry association in defining its role and strategy

August 2014

During August, Mesopartner assisted the South African Institute of Foundrymen (SAIF) in developing a new strategy and positioning for the next 5 years. Shawn has been working with the foundry industry in South Africa for the last 6 years, and this is the third strategy workshop that he has facilitated for SAIF. The first strategy workshop in 2008 followed immediately after a RALIS process hosted by the University of Johannesburg's Metal Casting Technology Station. The 2008 SAIF strategy resulted in the appointment of the permanent CEO, Mr. John Davies. This was an important event in the history of the SAIF, as the SAIF transformed from a voluntary management to a permanent management function. The foundry industry in South Africa is under immense competitive pressure from low cost producers and the industry has been struggling to regain an edge. Poor infrastructure, skills challenges, the cost of capital and labour related issues have further made the industry unattractive to investors. In the years since 2008 the SAIF has played an important role in advocacy on matters related to the foundry industry, and in strategic initiatives such as skills development and modernisation of the foundry industry.

Mesopartner has been supporting the South African foundry industry as a process consultant supporting different stakeholders in the metal casting innovation system. Firstly, Mesopartner worked directly with the SAIF and other industry bodies such as the Alumunium Federation of South Africa (AFSA) at the Mesolevel. Mesopartner also worked intensely with the public sector, especially the National Foundry Technology Network that is funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Science and Technology. Mesopartner also assisted several universities in developing more strategic modernisation and skills development programmes, and in one case assisted in the establishment of a technology demonstration facility. At the firm level, Mesopartner worked with sophisticated and demanding customers, like the automotive industry, the valve and pump industry and the rail industry to develop the competitiveness of the local casting supply capacity. Finally, Mesopartner worked directly with several foundries to improve their Research and Development activities, to manage their innovation and technology better, to try new manufacturing methods and the expand their markets. In one case, Mesopartner was contracted by an investor to assist a foundry in distress with a turnaround strategy.

Shawn Cunningham

Green Learning Visit to Berlin and Brandenburg with GIZ-Delegation from the Philippines

14-18 July

Who supports the Energy revolution (Energiewende) in Germany? What is the role of policies, support institutions and businesses in promoting Green Economic Development in Germany? A delegation of 22 partners and economic development experts from the GIZ program ProGED in the Philippines participated in a 1 week Learning Visit to Berlin and Brandenburg organized by Mesopartner. The study tour focused on the development of green innovations and the use of environmental technologies in metropolitan cities like Berlin and rural areas like the region of Brandenburg with medium-sized cites like Potsdam. The region's economy is faced by mitigation and adaptation challenges of climate change and at the same time is the dominant German region for renewable energy companies and suppliers. The aim of the visits and reflection workshops was not to take Germany as a best practice model in promoting green economic development but rather to provide new perspectives on the topic, food for thought and space for reflection to encourage Green Economic Development in the Philippines. Insights from the German system were used to reflect about the Philippine system and the required linkages between relevant stakeholders. The Learning Visit reader and the program agenda can be sent by Frank Waeltring on request of interest.    

Read how participants of the tour reflect on the tour afterwards and what insights and learning they want to communicate to their fellow country people and peers.

Reflection 1

Reflection 2

Promotion of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Brazil

June 2014

The use of renewable energy in Brazil is growing. The country has started with the promotion of wind energy, while solar energy is just starting to gain importance. Nonetheless one challenge for its future growth is the lack of qualified labour in these sectors. Mesopartner (Frank Waeltring) supported GIZ in Eschborn (Christoph Büdke) and in Brazil (Jürgen Beigel) in the design of a new program for the promotion of qualified labour in the wind-, solar- and energy efficiency sector. The team was also supported by Waldemar Bauer a professor from German.

Photo from left to right - Frank Waeltring, Juergen Beigel, Waldemar Bauer, Christoph Büdke

Business Support Service Fair in Yangon

24 May 2014

The consortium PEM and Mesopartner had been contracted by GIZ to promote entrepreneurship development in its current Private Sector Development Program in Myanmar.

One of the most recent activities under this component was the organisation of a Business Support Service Fair in Yangon on 24 May 2014. This fair was the first of its kind ever conducted in Myanmar and attracted 25 exhibiting service providers and 150 registered enterprises. The photo shows the consortium’s long-term expert Christopher Prior (center) with his local support team. Christian Schoen (Mesopartner, right hand side) visited the program on a short-term mission.

Moderators and Speakers at GIZ-Conference on 'Overcoming Regional Disparities' in Moldova

21-22 May 2014

Mesopartner supported the GIZ-Conference on 'Overcoming Regional Disparities' in Moldova on the 21st and 22nd of May 2014. Mesopartner (Frank Waeltring and Zdravko Miovcic) supported the conference through the preparation of a conference background paper, as panelist and moderator of a workshop on success factors of regional economic development. The background paper with country experiences from Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Poland also includes the workshop documentation. It can be downloaded soon at . The conference focused on successful experiences and challenges of regional development in the Balkan region. Around 160 experts from more than 20 countries participated in the conference.

Local Economic Development Training of Trainers in Vientiane, Laos

21 to 25 April 2014

This LED ToT marked the end of the 1st phase of a stocktaking and capacity development process implemented by the Mekong Institute in Thailand and funded by SDC.

Mesopartner is supporting this process through the development and supervision of the research approach looking into current LED frameworks, policies, practices and capacities in three pilot provinces/states in Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam along the East West Economic Corridor. Based on the capacity needs identified Mesopartner designed a modular capacity development approach and delivered the first (out of four) 5-day LED ToT in Vientiane.

Promoting business associations in Myanmar with handbook and leadership trainings

April 2014

Myanmar and its business associations are going through a process of change following liberalisation and democratisation. Mesopartner is supporting the associations  through the design of a context-related handbook on association management as well as through leadership trainings. The handbook was launched in April 2014 with the first management trainings. Different trainings with leaders of the associations on the one hand and with its staff on the other hand will continue during the next few months. The objective is to improve the management and service capacities of the associations during the few next years. Frank Wältring

Awareness-Raising of Potentials, Risks and Costs of Regional Economic Integration (ADB Manila)

3-5 March 2014

Mesopartner participated in an ADB workshop on “Awareness-Raising of Potentials, Risks and Costs of Regional Economic Integration” between 3 and 5 of March 2014 in Manila.

The role of Christian Schoen representing Mesopartner was the moderation of two case study sessions– one on the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), and the other one on Central Asia (CAREC). The key question of the workshop was: How to carry out ex-ante and ex-post impact assessment work in cross-border economic corridor development in order to make better decisions on channelling scarce resources to achieve the most desirable economic, social and environmental impacts?

Mesopartner is lecturing about 'Regional Competitiveness and Social Capital' in Germany and Vietnam

January & March 2014

In January and March 2014 Mesopartner again provided seminars and lectures as part of the German Masters on SME development (SEPT) at the University of Leipzig. Since 2008 annual lectures have been given in Leipzig, Hanoi and Ho-Chi-Minh-City to around 70 students. The topics of the courses given by Mesopartner are related to innovation, systemic competitiveness, green industrial development and the relevance of social capital for economic development. The students need to have previous work experience to apply for the Masters. It is always great fun to work with highly motivated young. Frank Wältring

Value Chain promotion as an Industrial Policy Instrument - Namibia

19-21 February 2014

During February 2014 Shawn Cunningham and Frank Waeltring conducted training of Ministry of Trade and Industry officials of Namibia. The training was about how to practically diagnose value chains within the context of industrial policy. The training took place over 3 days. The event was arranged and supported financially by the GIZ Programme for Economic Growth, which has been supporting the Namibian Government in its Industrial Policy formulation over the last 3 years.

Mesopartner cooperates with EDA in Bosnia and Herzegovina to promote Value chains

February 2014

Mesopartner is currently supporting the EDA in Bosnia, a private economic development agency based in BanjaLuka, in implementing four parallel value chain diagnosis exercises. During November, Frank Waeltring and Shawn Cunningham trained 4 teams to conduct value chain diagnosis in the metals, wood processing, leather and meat value chains. Mesopartner is currently supporting the four teams in developing their proposals and mobilizing supporting institutions to respond to the issues identified.

Value chain in Colombia

On behalf of the International Development Cooperation of PTB, Mesopartner advises the National Metrology Institute of Colombia and other bodies of the National Quality Infrastructure of Colombia to work more closely with business sectors organized in value chains. On the photo Luis Alfredo Chavarro, Chief of Metrology in Chemistry of NMI and Mesopartner Ulrich Harmes Liedtke.

Building sustainability for the Business Climate Survey, Indonesia

November 2013

Building sustainability for the Business Climate Survey (BCS) in Central Java: Christian Schoen with lecturers from the Diponegoro University (UNDIP) in Semarang in November 2013 at a training event on theory and practice of the BCS approach in Indonesia. The objective of the event was to inform the university about research and revenue generation opportunities created by getting actively involved in conducting the biannual BCS and possibly even hosting the methodology in the future. The GIZ RED programme in Indonesia has applied the enterprise surveys since 2003 in Central Java and recently also in West Kalimantan. Since 2005, Mesopartner has been advising the programme and local stakeholders on survey design, data processing, results analysis and reporting.

Christian Schoen

Innovation tour with Finnish Economic Agency Network

10 September 2013

On 10 September 2013 Mesopartner organized an innovation workshop and Berlin tour for  the Finnish City innovation network ( The day included speed presentations and speed table meetings with representatives of bottom-up business networks in a great business network location in Berlin, the Planet Modulor (  Further presenters of networks came from  Geekettes ( and Belius ( Mesopartner organized and facilitated the event and also presented their RALIS approach as a methodology to identify and promote business-driven innovation networks. After the half-day workshop the group of 25 representatives from Finnish economic agencies, innovation centers and city departments discovered Berlin on Segways with a guided tour on economic  structural change of the Inner City. The results were great discussions, new insights and lots of fun at the same time.

Frank Waeltring

LED School in Croatia

2-6 September 2013

During the week of the 2nd to the 6th of September 2013, Mesopartner trained 32 participants from Bosnia and Herzegovinaon LED concepts and tools. The training was organised by the GIZ Programme for Local Self-Government and Economic Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina (ProLocal) and was hosted in Split, Croatia. The participants were from three regions, supporting ministries and the GIZ ProLocal programme. The trainers were Frank Waeltring, Christian Schoen and Shawn Cunningham from Mesopartner, as well as Zdravko Miovcic, the director of EDA, a long time collaborator of Mesopartner in the Balkans.

Frank Waeltring, Christian Schoen & Shawn Cunningham