On 21 February 2019, the private sector engagement working group of the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) gathered for a peer learning workshop on private sector cooperation in Berlin. The DCED is a forum for learning about the most effective ways to create economic opportunities for the poor, in line with the SDGs – based on practical experience in private sector development. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) hosted the two-day event in Berlin.
At this year’s DCED workshop, more than 20 representatives from various international development agencies and ministries active in engaging the private sector in development cooperation discussed strategic private sector cooperation. In interactive sessions, the participants discussed how donors can work with the private sector to co-create innovative solutions. To kick off the workshop, Hans Joachim Zinnkann of the lot team presented the potentials of Design Thinking for the co-creation of innovative and sustainable business models along the lot approach and process. In a following session, three private sector representatives of Boehringer Ingelheim, Wingcopter and Adva Optical Networking shared their experiences of actively engaging in the lot process, highlighting its benefits and discussing challenges. Particularly the Design Thinking method and the multi-stakeholder co-creative approach resonated strongly with the international donor community. As another benefit, the explicit action-orientation through refinement and validation in the test and pilot phase was also highlighted.
Design Thinking and co-creation approaches are an increasingly popular engagement format used by donors to design innovative business solutions for development problems with the private sector. For example, several agencies are now exploring how to integrate co-creation methods in their programs, or are planning to replicate the lot process, e.g. the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The exchange of experiences and lessons learnt between these agencies served to advance members’ understanding of co-creation approaches and the potential for cooperation on approaches and instruments in the future.