Finland, Nokia, and infoDev partner in a €11.9 million program – Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy. The aim: to encourage innovation and competitiveness among SMEs in the information and communication technologies and agribusiness sectors in particular.
Innovative, technology-driven Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa, Asia, and Europe & Central Asia will soon benefit from a new partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Nokia, and infoDev – the global development financing program housed within the World Bank’s Global Information and Communication Technology (GICT) Department.
The €11.9 million program, known as Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy, will focus on enhancing the competitiveness of emerging market SMEs in the information and communication technologies (ICT) and agribusiness sectors in particular. The program will also employ the use of the mobile communications platform to grow content, services and applications for developing countries.
The three partner organizations created the program to foster the adoption of ICT technologies and innovative, technology-driven business models in developing countries. This approach is known to have a transformative, long-lasting effect on economically, socially and environmentally sustainable development efforts.
Key participants included Finnish Ambassador to the United States Pekka Lintu, Finnish Ambassador for Trade & Development Markku Kauppinen, Nokia Middle East and Africa Head of Government Affairs Jussi Hinkkanen, GICT Director Mohsen Khalil, and infoDev Program Manager Valerie D’Costa.
The program will seek to create jobs; improve the three regions’ innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems; increase productive capacity in the targeted sectors; demonstrate the mobile platform as a powerful vehicle for development; and increase South-South and North-South partnerships among a range of stakeholders.
The program will combine an interrelated series of global, regional, and country level activities.
* Creating three regional mobile applications laboratories that will incubate up to 10 new mobile applications each.
* Establishing social networking hubs in selected countries in Africa, Asia, and the ECA region to create opportunities for exchanges between mobile applications entrepreneurs and the wider industry.
* Incubating and providing technical assistance to more than 100 firms in the agriculture and ICT sectors by establishing and strengthening small business incubators in countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Cambodia, as well as in the ECA region.
* Delivering a program to encourage and increase the competitiveness of women entrepreneurs in Vietnam and Cambodia.
* Removing barriers to investment in cross-border broadband infrastructure and public-private partnership opportunities in the ECA region.
* Convening the 4th infoDev Global Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2011 in Finland. The Global Forum is the largest gathering of the developing world’s innovation, technology entrepreneur, and business incubator community. It focuses on leveraging innovation and entrepreneurship at the grassroots for economic development, job creation, and social inclusion.
* Generating major new resources and online tools that show the development community how ICTs and innovation systems can be meaningfully harnessed in agriculture and rural development projects.
About business incubation
Business incubation provides growth-oriented start-up enterprises with a set of focused and inter-related business and capacity development services, designed to help them grow and compete effectively. infoDev has found that business incubators can be important change agents in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem of developing countries: for banks, incubators offer a way of reducing risks to investing in SMEs; for policy-makers and regulators, they provide first-hand feedback on what is needed to stimulate SME start-up and growth; and for universities, they offer opportunities to commercialize research and expose student entrepreneurs to the real world of business.
infoDev is a global development financing program among international development agencies, coordinated and served by an expert Secretariat housed in the Global ICT Department (GICT) of the World Bank, one of its key donors and founders. It acts as a neutral convener of dialogue, and as a coordinator of joint action among bilateral and multilateral donors—supporting global sharing of information on ICT for development (ICT4D), and helping to reduce duplication of efforts and investments. infoDev also forms partnerships with public and private-sector organizations who are innovators in the field of ICT4