From 2019-2023, the SRECA project, implemented by GIZ on behalf of the BMZ, aimed to improve the conditions for regional and global trade in selected focus countries – Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam in the framework of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), and Mongolia in the framework of the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI) while the PR China took on the role as a development and economic partner to improve capacities for agricultural trade and private sector development in the focus countries.
During most of the SRECA project duration, the Covid 19 pandemic made it difficult for capacity building to be carried out in the conventional way face-to-face. Jointly with partners in the focus countries SRECA started to build up on online solutions to provide training measures to local businesses on topics such as exporting to China or Europe, trade standards in the agricultural sector, or marketing and market access strategies. To support this aim, SRECA project cooperated with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to utilise its small and meium-sized enterprise (SME) Trade Academy courses in the four focus countries. The ITC is the biggest development agency under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD) fully dedicated to supporting the internationalisation of SMEs. The ITC SME Trade Academy offers various courses on trade and especially export related topics. The courses are mainly offered in English, French, Spanish or Arabic.
Together with partners from Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam e-learning courses were selected, adjusted and set-up in the respective local language. A big challenge was to utilise languagues like Khmer or Mongolia that are not commonly used in massive open online course (MOOC) formats.
Based on coordination SRECA partners, the courses per focus country relevantly themed on:
- Cambodia: 1) Introduction to Exporting to China, 2) Meeting Standards in the Agrifood Sector.
- Lao PDR: 1) Doing Business with Chinese People, 2) Creating Quality E-commerce Content,
- Mongolia: 1) Introduction to exporting to China, 2) Meeting Standards in the Agrifood Sector, 3) Setting up an Export Marketing Strategy, 4) Helping SMEs Generate Export Business, 5) Export Sales and Negotiations, 6) Embarking on a Lean Digital Transformation for Organisations, 7) Considering Export Markets.
- Vietnam: 1) Introduction to Exporting to China, 2) Introduction to Business Plan.
Due to a high commitment towards e-learning from the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) as well as support from the BMZ project Promotion of Growth and Employment in the Private Sector Project (PROGRES), more courses could be produced. With SRECA coming to an end in March 2023, also the final virtual learning spaces (VLC) are provided by ITC .Despite offline capacity building has widely been resumed, the online resources are a practical way to reach out to more local SMEs in the four countries and can be utilised by partners in the future. The courses are hosted by ITC and distributed to respective partners.