Northern Ireland companies to target aid agency business

Picture by Press Eye Photography

Fast engineers success in global market: Dr Vicky Kell (left), Invest NI Trade Director, is pictured with Carson Mulholland (second left) of Fast Engineering, Antrim, a company which has supplied its Fastanks to international aid agencies for emergencies worldwide. They are pictured with Eleanor Baha, UN Geneva and Rome, and Fiona Bennington, Fast Engineering.

Local companies, both large and small, are being encouraged and assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to consider the opportunities presented by bidding for substantial business from international aid bodies such as the United Nations, World Bank, the European Union and Regional Development Banks.

Invest NI recently teamed up with UK Trade and Investment to bring to Northern Ireland experts on how to exploit opportunities – worth $140 billion in goods and services last year – from these international aid organisations.

More than 55 companies attended a special one-day seminar in Belfast hosted by Invest NI and UKTI and, as well as gaining insights into the various aid streams that exist, each had an opportunity to find out how to develop contacts with and bid for tenders from the organisations relevant to their business.

Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director, speaking at the seminar, said: “Opportunities developing from international aid/donor organisations in their worldwide operations are immense. Most of the contracts they tender are under £100,000, making these contracts particularly attractive to smaller and medium sized companies here.

“We organised the one-day seminar to raise awareness of the business opportunities and also to help our companies, especially SMEs in manufacturing and professional services, to gain a better understanding of the procedures and essential purchasing requirements of these huge organisations. I would stress, however, that if companies are going to engage in this area they need to commit the time and resource necessary to exploiting the opportunities presented.

“UKTI staff, many of who are based overseas, are keen to advise and assist our companies to improve their business prospects with the various bodies. We provide the channel through which our companies can access this advice from UKTI offices worldwide. This will help companies navigate through what can seem a very daunting maze.

“While opportunities exist for smaller companies, it may well be beneficial for a number of businesses to form a consortium to tender for larger contracts. We are ready to assist such collaboration in international markets.

“Smaller consultancy companies, for instance, often provide pre-project feasibility studies before the final ‘go-ahead’ is given by the beneficiary country government and donor,” Dr Kell added.

Among the goods and services required by the United Nations are healthcare supplies (including vaccines, AIDS/TB testing kits), water tanks/filtration equipment, vehicles, family planning products, IT/communications, pharmaceuticals, temporary shelters and security equipment.

Consultancy services are also purchased regularly in sectors such as education and training, healthcare, environment, water and wastewater and translations. Other donor agencies such as the World Bank, Regional Development Banks and the EU buy a vast amount of consultancy services in areas such as good governance, financial services, environment, water and wastewater, healthcare, agriculture, energy, transport, education and training, as well as in other areas to assist the growth of developing countries.