At Africa Summit in Kenya, Network for Technical Assistance Providers Gets Closer to Selling Services

A box GMS regional partners facing the camera, from right to left: Laura Rathe, Plenitud (Dominican Republic); Joseph Waruingi, Advantech Consulting (Kenya); Abu Sayeed, TAI (Bangladesh)of business cards and the traces of many hands shaken make up key takeaways that members of the Network of Technical Assistance Providers (NTAP) have from the second annual Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF) Africa Summit, a trade fair held on February 28 and March 1 in Nairobi, Kenya. Delegates from seven of GMS’s 10 regional partners comprising NTAP made concrete steps to growing NTAP members’ business, making connections and gaining insights.

Delegates learned that in East Africa the commercial practice of clients directly paying providers for goods can apply in sectors where indirect, donor-funded payment for services like theirs currently prevails. They also collected business cards from potential clients and business partners among the over 350 senior representatives of NGOs, businesses, governments, UN organizations, donors and media who exhibited or spoke at the summit.

NTAP’s booth at the trade fair drew particular interest from large international NGOs such as World Vision, Clinton Health Access Initiative, and Oxfam. Speaking extensively with other exhibitors, NTAP delegates identified many common potential clients—national NGOs operating in challenging environments—and learned there is commercial precedent in the region for direct purchases. This discovery emboldened NTAP to draft a road map for marketing its members’ services and building a clientele outside the prevailing system of donor-funded work in their fields.

One NTAP member said that in other sectors, for example in mining, banking, agriculture and fisheries, local organizations depend less on donors than does the health sector in which most NTAP members do business. NTAP members find the challenge of building a clientele that pays for services rendered—just as others pay for goods received—an exciting one as they market themselves directly to old and new prospective clients.

The two-day Africa Summit was preceded and followed by meetings GMS facilitated, during which NTAP further clarified its business vision and model and honed an elevator pitch targeting the summit’s delegates.

With the support of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the U.S. Agency for International Development, GMS has coordinated many activities for its 12 regional partners; supporting the launch of the NTAP at the Africa Summit marked its final organizational strengthening event and GMS’s end in September 2017 can be a send-off for NTAP’s members.