'Business in Development', 'Trade, not Assistance' - the slogans for new-style development cooperation sound good. To make sure that the content is also new and stays that way, enterprising developers are continually being stimulated and challenged. By the BID Challenge, for example: a contest organized by Business in Development in cooperation with a variety of commercial partners. The challenge: write an innovative business plan that combines earning a profit with improving the living standards in developing countries.
More than eighty complete plans were submitted, from every sector and oriented toward countries throughout the world. Many of the plans had both an ecological and a social component - the deaf in Namibia producing beads made from recycled glass, for example. Culture and design also played important parts, such as in the project Rag-Bag, which won the second prize. With Rag-Bag, trendy bags are made from recycled plastic carrier bags.
Siem Haffmans, who wrote the plan, was in India for his design agency Id-l (pronounced ideal). He came into contact with the local NGO Converse, which made new bags from old plastic carrier bags. 'I was enthusiastic about the idea, but not about the designs and the quality.' When he got back to the Netherlands, he asked designer Elle Sillekens to come up with a trendy bag 'without that musty smell of the World Trade circuit'. The prize money from the BiD Challenge will come in handy to expand the production in India, which is still directed by NGO Conserve. The bags, which are now sold in the hottest shops in the Netherlands, are doing well and the first subsequent orders have already been received.