International Partnerships

Private sector

The private sector is an important driver of growth, job creation and poverty reduction in partner countries, which is why we engage it more and more in our development efforts.

    Who we partner with

    We cooperate with a variety of private actors:

    • European private sector organisations, such as Business Europe, the European Business Council for Africa (EBCAM), Eurochambres, the ‘Confédération européenne des associations de petites et moyennes entreprises’ (CEA-PME)
    • European Chambers of Commerce
    • European business organisations and their networks in partner countries
    • individual companies
    • private financial institutions
    • private foundations

    Our approach to private sector engagement

    Collaborating with individual small businesses, big companies and regional business organisations is essential at each stage of our development process because they help us:

    • implement aid programmes
    • formulate policies
    • mobilise private resources

    Our approach to private sector engagement is two-fold:

    • holistic: We seek to enhance the business and investment climate in partner countries, especially for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
    • differentiated: Actors from the private sector are diverse (different sizes, different business objectives, different contexts etc.) and each requires different conditions and incentives.

    We work on private sector engagement with other development actors:

    • EU countries
    • international organisations, such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), specialised agencies of the United Nations, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Development Law Organisation (IDLO) etc.
    • international financial institutions and development finance institutions, such as the European Investment Bank (EIB), the World Bank Group (WBG), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the African Development Bank (AfDB) etc.
    • the G20 and G7

    EU delegations around the world are essential in our approach.

    For benchmarking and results evaluation, we collaborate for example with the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) and the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA).

    Our policy framework

    Over time, we have been putting in place a structured dialogue with the private sector to:

    • understand its needs and constraints
    • boost its potential as a driver of sustainable development

    This process started with the 2014 European Commission Communication ‘A stronger role of the private sector in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth in developing countries’ which:

    • places support to the private sector at the forefront of our development approach
    • commits us to engage more with actors from the private sector to strengthen the impact of our development efforts

    The Communication is in line with the objectives of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda which:

    • promotes the use of innovative mechanisms to attract more private investment in the development sector
    • supports the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    The External Investment Plan (EIP), adopted in 2016, aims at inducing more private investment in partner countries in Africa and the European Neighbourhood region.

    The Sustainable Business for Africa Platform (SB4A) - an essential building block of the EIP’s third pillar ‘Investment Climate’ – defines the process of our structured and action-oriented dialogue with the private sector.

    Our objectives

    We build partnerships with private actors to:

    • foster growth, create jobs and reduce poverty:
      • We prioritise decent job creation and therefore promote the Decent Work Agenda.
      • We want to deepen financial inclusion and increase access to finance for businesses.
      • We mobilise private partners to invest in education, focusing on the technical and digital skills that young people need to enter the job market
    • achieve sustainable and inclusive development:

    Private actors, through investment and innovation, have an essential role to play in new sectors like:

    • sustainable energy
    • sustainable agriculture and agribusiness
    • green infrastructure and connectivity
    • promote crosscutting issues, such as the fight against climate change, the protection of the environment, women empowerment, and human rights

    What we do

    We strive to create a business environment conducive to private sector initiative in partner countries.

    Concretely, we help private actors by:

    • facilitating access to finance to MSMEs and setting up innovative financing mechanisms
    • addressing risks and unblocking bottlenecks to private investment in partner countries
    • supporting market-based business development services in partner countries
    • focusing on sectors with multiplier potential, such as energy, agriculture and digital
    • facilitating public-private multi-stakeholder alliances

    Our actions focus on results and aid coherence and effectiveness.

    We also organise different events and forums to inform and consult private actors directly, such as: