Title: Innovation fund
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Overall term: 2016 to 2019
On the basis of its National Development Plan, Ecuador has devised a strategy for revamping its economy. In particular, this strategy seeks to achieve a shift from the focus on exporting primary commodities and exploiting natural resources to engaging in diversified and environmentally efficient production with higher added value. This includes, for example, service industries founded on a knowledge-based economy. The aim is to make greater use in future of the skills and knowledge of the population and of employees in the public sector. For these reform efforts to succeed, it is essential that staff in local administrations develop their skills and expertise, and cooperate more closely with the private sector and organisations in civil society.
Private and public sector actors cooperate more effectively on implementing innovative projects in the fields of local economic development, employment promotion and dual vocational training.
The innovation fund was set up to finance projects that foster public-private cooperation in the productive sector. Eligible projects have terms of 6 to 12 months and volumes ranging from EUR 100,000 to EUR 150,000. Two public tenders to date have focused on vocational education/employment promotion and local economic development.
Projects are selected by the Technical Secretariat for International Cooperation (SETECI) in the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Embassy. Applications are assessed according to an agreed set of criteria and clear selection rules. Special consideration is given to projects that bring about visible results at local level. At the same time, these should also be suitable for transfer to other parts of the country.
GIZ advises interested parties on how to prepare a project proposal and provides close support during project implementation.
The assisted projects are innovative in that they trial new processes, methods and forms of cooperation at local level and with a range of different actors. They have a positive impact on gender and/or generational equality.
Three projects focusing on economic revival and promotion of the local economy are under way in Manabí Province:
- Digital tools aimed at boosting the local economy are being developed for producers in cooperatives in Manabí Province. Producers have the opportunity to complete an online training course on practical issues relating to cooperative associations. In addition, the ‘SuperTienda’ website is being developed into an online marketplace with a payment function. Producers throughout the country can offer their product range on this marketplace and can buy and sell products directly. A smartphone app has also been created that allows small-scale producers in Manabí to offer their products online and to buy and sell products among themselves without involving intermediaries.
- In San Isidro (Sucre canton), producers that belong to the agricultural marketing association ‘Los Maraciyeros’ are successfully increasing the added value in the value chains for Inca nuts, ají chilli peppers, coffee, cocoa and maize. They have accomplished this by acquiring machinery for processing coffee beans into packaged coffee, a press for extracting cooking oil from the Inca nut (sacha inchi) and a mill for processing ají pods into sauces.
- In Cojimíes (Pedernales canton), the catering sector – which is run mainly by women – is the driving force for local economic development. With support from GIZ, local providers are developing their organisational and culinary potential to help attract more tourists to the coastal town. In cooperation with the umbrella organisation for provincial administrations, the women also have access to equipment such as freezers to store fish and other seafood under hygienic conditions, juicers to extract fresh fruit juice, and the pots, pans and dishes they need for their restaurants. They also receive support with organising food festivals.
- The innovation fund also supports the following projects in the area of vocational training:
- In Azuay, the national wood industry association and the state vocational training institute are joining forces to set up a ‘digital learning factory’ (FabLab) for students pursuing dual vocational training in industrial wood processing. For the first time in Ecuador, this project brings together a dual vocational training programme and an industry-wide training association. Another innovative aspect of the project is that trainees in the ‘FabLab’ can complete the practical part of their vocational training in a digital environment equipped with the latest features such as 3D printers.
- The training workplace Transoceánica and the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education are organising Ecuador’s first ever country-wide career-guidance days for schools and training workplaces. At these events, senior pupils can find out about the range of dual vocational training options available. At least 2,500 pupils from 50 schools as well as numerous apprenticing companies from the private sector are expected to take part.
- The national textile industry association and the state vocational education institute in Sucre have jointly submitted an innovative project proposal aimed at providing integrated training at an industry-wide vocational training centre. Apprentices undertaking dual vocational training in textile production in the city of Quito will in future rotate through a number of different companies to learn about different steps in the textile production process. A modern textiles laboratory is also being set up for the apprentices.