Since August 2017, Plan Eval is a member of the International Consulting Alliance, an international network of consultancy firms in the Development Cooperation field. The network was created with the aim of facilitating long term partnerships between consulting actors located in development cooperation beneficiary countries and highly qualified technical specialist and development experts in different technical sectors. Since its creation in 2012, the network has grown steadily and currently counts 65 Technical and Local Members and over 26.000 experts.
Every year, the ICA holds the Annual ICA Conference. It is an opportunity for Technical and Local Members to meet in person, exchange ideas and discuss future cooperation opportunities. This year, the conference took place in Valencia, Spain. Our Executive Director, Fabrizio Rigout, participated and took the opportunity to sit down with Christos Aivaliotis, Network Manager for the ICA, to discuss the Annual Conference, the network’s annual results and the opportunities it has to offer to a company like Plan Eval.
FABRIZIO RIGOUT: I’m here this afternoon with Christos. He is the Network Manager for the International Consulting Alliance and we are going to talk a little bit about the conference. So, first of all, how were the results?
CHRISTOS AIVALIOTIS: We’re quite happy this year, there has been a record number of participants in Valencia, Spain. Around 85 consultants coming from more than 30 different countries and representing 50 different organisations.
F: How would you describe Plan Eval’s role within the network?
CH: I would say that there is a lot of room for Plan Eval to expand its activities thanks to the use of the network, especially taking into account your technical expertise and geographical presence in Brazil. This combination offers you a very privileged position inside ICA, as you can work both as the Local Partner for Brazil, but at the same time as a Technical Partner worldwide for motoring and evaluations. As we have discussed already, Plan Eval has the characteristics of a “hybrid” member according to ICA’s internal categorization and can certainly bring on board ICA the best of both worlds – sectorial specialization and geographical expertise.
F: Can you tell us a bit more about the difference between Local Partners and Technical Partners?
CH: Yes, within our network, the International Consulting Alliance, we have two types of member organisations. On the local side, there are organisations that are based in the beneficiary countries where the developing projects take place and with a cross-sector approach, meaning they can work in many different technical areas. While, on the other hand, our technical partners work worldwide but in very specific areas of expertise.
F: What kind of opportunities does ICA offer for consultancy companies?
CH: All our members, either private companies, NGOs or even public parties, are connected through an online cooperation platform that offers them an overview of all open opportunities to work with multi-lateral or bi-lateral donors, through our daily newsletter. While there are many online services providing this, ICA differs in the sense that we are creating a community of development specialists, who can very easily identify not only new funding opportunities but the best available partners (thanks to an automatic match-making system of ICA’s platform) and experts (thanks to the ICA Database of Experts). The vast majority of our members use our platform extensively for networking and business development reasons, but a considerable amount of cooperation still takes place as well during the implementation of their projects through the exchange of expertise, sharing best practices and utilizing the physical presence of our members throughout the world.
F: As a last question, can you give us some examples partnerships that happened between companies because of participation in ICA?
CH: Actually, your timing is great, because we are always collecting the annual statistics around the time of the Annual Conference. For the past year we have had around thirty successfully interacted and implemented projects by ICA partners in all continents and across many different technical areas. A specific example I’d like to mention is a project that was awarded to two of our local partners, without the participation of a technical partner, to implement a World Bank project in China and Pakistan.
As Plan is getting more familiar with the network and its platform, we are eager to increase our involvement within the Alliance. Our presence at the Annual Conference has proven to be very productive. We have had the chance to meet with people from several technical areas such as Education, Health and Public Services and it has been very promising in terms of partnerships for Plan.