ICCO is strengthening its relations with faith-based organisations and is now also linking with private sector actors. On September 7, 2019, Helene van der Roest, ICCO Cooperation’s Regional Manager for Central Eastern and Southern Africa, will be a speaker at the Global Business Roundtable’s (GBR) Women of Character Summit.
ICCO’s relationship with GBR started at the beginning of 2019. Helene was then invited to speak at their roundtable conference in April 2019 where she was approached by the founder and CEO of GBR to get a better understanding of ICCO’s vision, mission and programmatic impact in the world. Less than 2 months later two GBR staff members and the GBR conveners and founder, Chairman Goodenough Sipho Mseleku were on a plane to Kigali Rwanda to meet Helene and ICCO’s team in Rwanda to see first hand ICCO’s work. “I am a man of my word,” said Mr. Sipho Mseleku to a group of smiling ICCO staff members the first morning in ICCO’s Kigali offices. “I felt called to spend time with you and understand ICCO better so I came.” The GBR staff members were Cisca Adamson, GBR Secretariat: HOD Sponsorships & Exhibitions, Mr. Thabang Bonginkosi Nkosi, Head of IT and assistant to the conveners.
GBR, established on 21st August 2009, is a networking organization with a global member pool of businessmen and women, global government dignitaries and investors. GBR focuses on the complete development of a person in line with God's plan for His Kingdom. Linking with ICCO’s DNA from the protestant churches in the Netherlands made the connection easy between the two organizations.
On two warm sunny days, ICCO and GBR traveled to the Kamonyi and Bugesera districts in Rwanda to visit partners of ICCO’s STARS program in Rwanda where we met different actors from the maize and rice value chain including input suppliers, producer organizations as well as key buyers of their produce. ICCO understood GBR's God-lead approach to partnering with private sector leaders. And GBR understood ICCO’s vision to create a world in which justice and dignity are central.
“We help farmers and small businesses grow is not just a tagline for us” said Helene van der Roest “It is our vision to give help where it is needed and open the way to sustainable development in places where we are called to be. We help to put nutritious food on farmers tables and more money in their pockets.”
At the end of the two days visit, both organizations pledged to partner with each other and find ways to link ICCO’s more than 50 years’ experience in development cooperation with GBR's connections with key private sector and government actors. In 2020 GBR will be 10 years in existence and will then also organize its 10th global roundtable conference. ICCO will again present its programs in this conference and the intention is to sign a multi-year MOU for collaboration to grow farmers and small businesses in Africa.
Strengthening women’s capacity and financial inclusion
The upcoming GBR summit in September will present an opportunity to showcase ICCO’s work on strengthening women’s capacity and financial inclusion to enhance their entrepreneurship and economic development. Helene van der Roest will be one of the “dynamic speakers from across the globe, who will be addressing topics around domestic abuse, the role of women in education, politics, single motherhood, women entrepreneurship, agribusiness and so on!”