ABOVE (ALL) - Robust contribution, meetings, demonstrations and discussions from all participants at TRACTION Camp AgTech USA
TRACTION Camp AgTech USA
In April, REG organized TRACTION Camp AgTech USA as part of its startup support activities for the most able early-stage agriculture technology entrepreneurs in the region. For two weeks, 14 selected entrepreneurs representing leading agriculture technology startups from the region, met with mentors, company executives, and investors in Silicon Valley.
The group consisted of six entrepreneurs from Serbia, four from Ukraine, two from Albania, one from Moldova, and one from Kosovo.
In partnership with the leading startup law firm Royse Law in Menlo Park, California, REG organized an Eastern European AgTech day at the RoyseLaw office, where three partners and five leading AgTech business development specialists mentored and trained the 14 entrepreneurs.
The program consisted of further visits to top Silicon Valley accelerators 500 Startups, Alchemist, GSV Labs, Plug ’n Play, and Rocketspace, as well as daily mentoring sessions and networking get-togethers with leading investors and executives. The group also visited Stanford University, the Western Grower’s Association’s Innovation Center in Salinas, the AgTech Innovation Center at UC Davis, and the prestigious Silicon Valley think tank Institute for the Future.
REG is planning the next TRACTION Camp USA study tour in September 2016, for another batch of 15-20 top startup entrepreneurs from the region.
Mobile World Congress (MWC)
Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the world’s largest gathering in the mobile industry, organized by the GSMA, & was held in the mobile world capital Barcelona.
From February 22-25, REG supported 10 regional companies’ participation at the event, parallel side events, conferences, exhibition areas and the B2B Brokerage event co-organized by the Enterprise Europe Network. The event brought together nearly 101,000 people from 204 different countries from all over the world; an increase of more than six percent over last year. Mobile World Congress 2016 featured more than 2,200 exhibiting companies showcasing cutting-edge products and services across 110,000 square meters of exhibition and hospitality space.
This year’s Mobile World Congress incorporated a diverse range of events, spanning multiple sectors and interests, reflecting the expanding role of mobile around the world. “We once again enjoyed a tremendously stimulating show, featuring a world-class speaker line-up and a range of cutting-edge product launches that will set the tone for the mobile industry for the remainder of the year and beyond” - said John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA Ltd.
One Albanian company (Tech 360), two Macedonian companies (Balkantel and Datalab) and 7 Serbian companies (Htech, Technology partnership, Fractal, Ctree, Serbian Angels Network, Humeds, Dragan Jeremic Consulting Ltd.,) traveled between the 11 exhibition halls, and held numerous meetings with different types of companies and organizations.
As part of MWC, the Enterprise Europe Network organized a B2B brokerage event with over 400 companies from all over the world. This event included REG companies having B2B meetings with companies from all 7 continents. In addition, REG regional companies met separately with Swedish IT companies at the Swedish pavilion, with the assistance of our partners from Business Regional Goteborg. In total the regional group of companies reported over 100 direct B2B meetings with potential partners and customers.
In closing, Mobile World Congress 2016 proved to be an incredible opportunity to take advantage of the nexus of mobile technology innovation and industry collaboration on display. We are certainly booking our trip for next year and can’t wait to see what technology unfolds for us all.
Progress with TFA Implementation
Countries supported by REG as part of the trade facilitation component are making solid progress in meeting their respective international obligations in this area. As members of the World Trade Organization, Macedonia and Albania have completed their national procedures for ratification of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) thus incorporating the agreement into their legal systems. In terms of progress the countries are making with the implementation of specific TFA requirements, Macedonia has established a national trade facilitation committee (NTFC) as a body for coordination and consultation on TF reforms and an enquiry point for providing information on their application, while Albania is just a step away from completing these key institutional arrangements. Though not a WTO member yet, Serbia has also demonstrated a clear determination to work on TFA implementation in context of its regional obligations and national interests and is making the necessary steps in this direction.
TFA Training for CEFTA Parties
REG co-organized a Regional Training on the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation for CEFTA (Central European Free Trade Agreement) Parties with the World Trade Organization and the World Bank Group. The training took place on March 14 – 18, 2016 at WTO headquarters in Geneva. Participants included representatives of customs authorities and ministries of economy and trade from seven CEFTA countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo. Training sessions were delivered by the most relevant international organizations active in the area of trade facilitation – the WTO, World Customs Organization, UNECE, UNCTAD, International Trade Centre. The knowledge and information acquired at the training is expected to enable the participants to engage in the upcoming trade facilitationnegotiations within CEFTA, as well as take part in the future TFA implementation in their respective countries in a more competent and productive manner.
SCRUM Product Owner Training Organized by MASIT
As a follow up to the two SCRUM MASTER trainings organized by MASIT (Macedonian Chamber of Information and Communication Technologies) last year, the SCRUM Product Owner training held in March was the next logical step in the SCRUM framework.
In Macedonia in 2015, 41 individuals became SCRUM Masters as a result of the training organized by MASIT, co-funded by REG. The 12 individuals enrolled in the SCRUM Product Owner training successfully passed the training material.
It is also worth mentioning that the SCRUM trainer, Mr. Ralph Jocham, was engaged on behalf of MASIT by the Vojvodina ICT Cluster Academy, which is a step towards further regional BSO synergies.
ICT Meeting Between Georgia and Armenia
On April 20, REG organized an ICT Workshop on the topic of ‘Strengthening of the ICT Sector Export Capacity in Armenia and Georgia’. The main objective of the workshop focused on determining the needs and challenges for ICT sector growth and what can be done to support this sector to sustain economic growth in the region.
The results will be used by USAID Armenia, Georgia and Washington to potentially determine, prioritize and plan activities for regional ICT sector development. More than 25 participants with strong expertise and leadership roles in the ICT sectors of Georgia and Armenia contributed to establishing common goals and work towards tangible results.
Adventure EDU Event
The Adventure Travel Trade Association together with the REG project, organized atwo-day training event for 50 Armenian and Georgian professionals from the tourism sector. The event aimed to further build on their knowledge of adventure tourism product development, international marketing, and relationship building between tour operators, tourism development staff, regional tourism directors. During the two-day event three intense courses were delivered:
- Adventure Travel Trends and Concepts
- Product Development for Adventure Travel Businesses
- Meet the Markets: Selling Successfully to International Trade Partners
In-Bound Trade Mission for Fruits & Vegetables Buyers from Germany and Holland
Germany is one of the most important markets for Balkan fruits and vegetables both fresh and processed/frozen. Many Balkan companies are present at trade fairs in Germany looking for the right buyers. The German market is very sophisticated and requires both great quality control and proficiency due to large retail discounters like ALDI, LIDL etc. the market is very competitive. Consequently, Balkan companies very often struggle to break-even or work with second-tier wholesale companies that are not so restrictive in terms of consistency and the visual profile of products.
In the last two years, REG supported Balkan companies exhibiting at Anuga 2015 and Fruit Logistica 2015/2016 to analyze the competition, understand trends and attract/meet adequate F&V importers and traders. Some of these contacts have already resulted in export deals and the sale of Balkan products in Germany.
Following these efforts, REG Project contracted a senior German expert/consultant to work on detecting interest and encouraging potential buyers, primarily from Germany and Holland to visit the Balkans and facilitate B2B meetings with AG/food producers and processors from REG countries. The companies that participated at the in-Bound mission and B2Bs were:
- ALLFOOD GMBH-MUNICH (www.allfood.de) Deep frozen fruits and vegetables for industrial purposes as well as for the wholesale market.
- FIJOL IMPORT EXPORT GMBH (www.fijol.de) Specialized in direct import of fruit, vegetables, fruit juice concentrates, canned goods, mushrooms, from Central and Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary).
- GLOBAL FRUIT –HOLLAND Global Fruit BV is a sales and marketing organization for the food industry. Main product groups include: Fruit juice concentrates, Fruit juices NFC, Fruit purees, Concentrated fruit purees, Natural aromas, Other fruit ingredients for the food Industry (www.global-fruit.nl); (www.fairtrasa.com)
- GROßHANDEL GÜDÜK GMBH & CO. KG, (www.gdk-rostock.de) larger importer and supplier of Rostock wholesale market with fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.
Another company Interfruit Austria (www.inter-fruit.at) initially confirmed participation but postponed their visit due to some personal issues (health problems). The company was replaced with a representative from A&B Fruchthandel GmbH that already has a representative in Serbia.
REG selected companies from the region that fulfill expected quality/safety/volume requirements for specific markets and organized an In-bound trade mission for potential buyers to visit and evaluate their product portfolio, processing facilities and management processes and have direct B2B meetings. The trade missions included one B2B meeting in Belgrade for companies from SRB and BiH, on-site visits in Serbia, B2B meetings in Skopje for MK, KS and AL companies and on-site visits in Macedonia.
The overall objective of this activity was to enable leading AG (fruit and vegetables) producers, processors and cold store operators in the REG countries (AL, MK, SRB, BiH and KS) to present their offers at prearranged B2B meetings with key importers and explore opportunities for new export deals.
REG identified Balkan companies committed to developing new or expanding current export sales to Germany/EU and together with the German consultant facilitated B2Bs for optimal presentation and possible negotiation for export of AG products.
B2B Meeting with DELHAIZE - International Supermarket Chain
One of the major challenges of fruit and vegetables companies supported by REG is contacting, properly understanding and fulfilling the prerequisites needed to become a potential supplier, especially to larger retail chains. Hence, REG Project through AgBizMK implemented the activity “B2B meeting with International Supermarket chain - DELHAIZE”.
Delhaize Serbia is a member of the international trade chain Delhaize Group, which is headquartered in Belgium and which operates on three continents, across seven countries. Delhaize Group arrived in Serbia in 2011 with the acquisition of all objects of Delta Maxi Group. Since then Delhaize Serbia is working intensively on expanding the product range, constantly raising quality, improving the formulation, design, and integration of this market in the world recognized system with has contributed to the overall development of modern business in retail in Serbia. Delhaize Serbia has thus remained the largest retail chain in the country. At the end of the first quarter of the year 2016 it had more than 10,800 employees and a total of 388 retail stores: Maxi, Shop & Go and Tempo.
In 2014, Delhaize Serbia has opened a new distribution center with 70,000 pallet places, the largest accommodation and storage capacity in Serbia. With the centralization of the supply chain it can grow to promptly deliver fresh foods to its stores. From high standards concerning human and labor rights, through strict controlled production of all items to energy efficiency and waste management, Delhaize Serbia introduced innovations in every aspect of corporate social responsibility, conducting business in a sustainable way.
Delhaize Serbia covers more than 50% of the fresh fruit and vegetable market in Serbia. As such a key market player, Delhaize is one of the most interested buyers for producers of fresh fruits and vegetables in the region. With this in mind, REG project, through a regional consultant approached Delhaize for a cooperation and coordination meeting with select companies potentially able to supply Delhaize’s supermarket chains with table grapes, peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelons.
ICT Lean Kanban Training
On April 21, we have gathered the 30 of the top management CEOs in Georgia to take participation in a Lean Kanban training. They spent a full day learning how Lean Kanban can provide effective solutions to reducing delivery time, improving project visibility and predictability, and achieving greater agility and quality of products and services. During the workshop the instructor led a practical discussion how Lean Kanban can be used in order to enhance project management in their organizations. At the end of the day a simulation game was played in teams of four to six people, to practice the newly learned skills and techniques to optimizing the flow of work using Lean-Kanban principles.
Ukraine Buy-In: ‘International Partnership for Financial Sector Stability (IP-FSS)’
Component 1 – Strategic Communication
Our advisors have been helping the central bank (National Bank of Ukraine - NBU) and the deposit insurer (Deposit Guarantee Fund – DGF) to rebuild their websites as part of government initiative towards more open and accountable financial sector regulations. We have conducted strategic sessions with internal stakeholders to help NBU and DGF to formulate how they want to use their websites as communication platforms. Focus groups have been held with end users and external stakeholders to investigate what kind of communication from regulators is in demand.
IP-FSS plans to help the financial sector regulators to prepare comprehensive descriptions of their new website sections, functions and procure web developers and designers to relaunch the websites.
Component 2 – Diaspora Study
IP-FSS has completed the study of how Ukrainians across the globe feel about using innovative financial instruments such as diaspora bonds to raise investments in their motherland’s economy. The report was presented to USAID in April and will be used for considering new Mission interventions.
Component 3 – Financial Sector Regulation
IP-FSS has been assisting the National Securities and Capital Markets Commission (NSCMC) in strengthening its regulatory capacities. We have supported the Commissioner-in-Charge to attend a global congress of securities and derivatives regulators to establish business networking with international peers. We have also financed three commissioners to attend a ten-day session at the US SEC Enforcement Institute in April. In addition, we have provided a seasoned international expert to help NSCMC to prepare a road map for technical assistance and implementation.
We have also worked with NBU on financial stability and macro-prudential policy and with DGF on the assessment of IADI Core Principles for Effective Deposit Insurance Systems.
Component 4 – Digital Financial Services (DFS)
IP-FSS has made significant progress in promoting digital financial services in Ukraine. In concert with DFS suppliers such as banks, telecoms, payment systems and others we have elaborated a comprehensive understanding of market drivers and trends. This will help in defining the country’s strategy vis-à-vis a cashless economy. Working with the NBU, regulators and the Parliament, our consulting team has ensured that lessons learned by other countries are taken into consideration and will strike a balance between regulation and market discipline.
Finally, in collaboration with other stakeholders such as the Pension Fund of Ukraine, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social Affairs the consultants have developed several pilot programs to test mobile/digital G2C payments such as pensions, scholarships, and IDP aid. These programs will continue until the end of IP-FSS, with further development in the next USAID financial sector project.
This newsletter is produced by USAID’s Regional Economic Growth Project (REG); Implemented by SEGURA Consulting LLC - www.REGproject.net