Sustainable matchmaking between SMEs

In emerging economies and the Netherlands


A Sustainable Match is a business to business partnership between a local entrepreneur in an emerging economy and a Dutch enterprise. The approach to a Sustainable Match consists of five stages in which sustainablity is incorporated in the matchmaking process from the start. The outcome is inclusive business: business that contributes to poverty reduction through the inclusion of the low income communities in its value chain.


First, select your purpose for the matchmaking project. Sustainable Match chose food security as the overall purpose for the pilots, as Dutch companies offer technology, business and knowledge to contribute for improving food security in emerging economies.


The scoping phase involves the following steps:
  • Country Selection Proposal
  • Sector selection. A macro market assessment, including economic figures and an inventory of key players and networks, can support the decision for the specific focus sector.
  •  Defining the sustainability issues in this sector. The CSR Risk checker can be consulted for assessing the sustainability issues in a specific sector and country:
  • Mapping the business opportunities. Based on the market assessment, consultation of local experts on the sector and food security, opportunities in business can be defined.
  • Next step is, to start the recruitment of SMEs in the selected sector, by e.g. using a promotion flyer. This leads to a longlist of potential participants for the matchmaking project.


Pre-matchmaking includes the recruitment and selection of suitable and reliable candidates for sustainable matchmaking. Activities include:
  • Assessment of potential candidates, including a CSR level check.
  • Generate business profiles flyers of the selected candidates.
  • Develop video messages with interviews of the candidates and their business propositions, by using an instruction  for video profiles.
  • Organize pre-match events for the promotion of sustainable business opportunities in the selected country. Video messages can be presented, business profiles discussed and participants can share their vision on the local value chain.
  • Check out an example program and example video messages by speakers (Dutch Ambassador in Uganda and food security expert) during Sustainable Match Uganda.
  • If appreciated, a NonDisclosure Agreement can be used in order to share confidential information.


In this phase the actual face-to-face meetings with potential business partners are being organized. In case a group mission is desired, field visits, inclusive business modelling workshops and business events in cooperation with the embassies can be prepared. Check out the example program that was initially set up for the Bangladesh pilot.


The goal of post-matching is to increase the success of the Sustainable Matches. SME’s can be linked to investors and business development consultants. When financial support in this stage is desired: the Netherlands Enterprise Agency runs a number of programmes and grant schemes for sustainable business initiatives. MVO Nederland offers the International CSR-vouchers that can cover up to 50% of the research and training costs in order to support the Sustainable Match partnership.

Publication Sustainable Match

Lessons Learned in sustainable matchmaking between small and medium enterprises in emerging economies and the Netherlands. (pdf)

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