Seven Dutch-Colombian partnership cases, with Colombian private sector involvement, were used in research to investigate how partnerships between government-led development agencies and private sector have worked in practice.


In the two main banana-growing regions of Colombia, small banana producers fid keeping up with emerging sustainable production methods to be a challenge. Living in the aftermath of armed conflict, these banana communities are vulnerable and face the challenge of integrating those people demobilized from the forces. In 2006, the Colombian banana trade association, AUGURA, plus two corporate foundations of banana exporters Fundauniban and Corbanacol and the Dutch Embassy in Bogotá have set up a partnership to enhance the capacity of small producers and vulnerable communities to secure their position in the banana export chain in a sustainable and fair way. The project provides evidence of the success of a strategy which involves a more sophisticated co-ordination of activities of organizations with similar objectives in the same sector. 

The full case can be downloaded here.


The vulnerable coffee-growing families in the region of Cesar are confronted with problems such as a lack of social structure, the challenge of community building, the existence of inequality and extreme poverty. The conflict left profound negative economic consequences in the Cesar region, posing additional challenges for sustainable development. As response, a partnership between Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros (FNC), Douwe Egberts Foundation, the Government of Cesar and the Dutch Embassy in Bogotá provides a potential solution for engaging the region’s coffee-growing families in sustainable development that ensures not only social and economic welfare but also contributes to peace-building processes. 

The full case can be downloaded here.


The Colombian department Huila has been severely affected by the presence of illegal armed groups and illicit crop production, further fueling conflict and hampering social and economic development. There is therefore a need to develop alternative economic opportunities for the inhabitants of Huila, which will lead to building peace and social development. In order to address the region’s challenges, Coffee Company Huila, the Dutch Embassy in Bogotá, Banco Agrario of Colombia, the Government of Huila and the state-funded education organization SENA joined forces to implement a project that promotes market competitiveness among the region’s coffee growers and enables a higher quality of community life, peace and security at the appropriate scale. 

The full case can be downloaded here


The department of Nariño in Southwest Colombia is affected by the armed conflict, cultivation of illegal crops, and a high level of poverty and migration, so Empresas de Nariño, Starbucks Co., International Organization for Migration, Carcafe Foundation and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands joined forces in a partnership to foster sustainable development of coffee growing families in Nariño. The project ran from 2004 to 2007 and was set up as a multiple-impact programme focusing on vulnerable coffee-growing communities with a high rate of displacement and risk of forced migration. By implementing a social, economic and eco-friendly development strategy, the partnership increased the position of 1,160 small coffee-growing families in the coffee value chain. The PPP provided social and economic opportunities for coffee-growing families in Nariño, and thereby supported the preservation of the local coffee-growing culture, ultimately preventing forced migration and displacement of coffee growers in the Nariño region.

The full case can be downloaded here

Natural Gas

Access to reliable, affordable, economically viable and environmentally sound energy service in the Colombian Caribbean region demonstrates a multi-layered problem. Extending access to natural gas for low income families in rural areas –who are difficult to reach in a commercial sense – required the commitment of several actors. In 2005, Promigas and Promigas Foundation established a PPP with Surtigas, Gases del Caribe and the Dutch Embassy in Bogotá with the goal of contributing to the region’s development through expanding the use and supply of natural gas in the region. The partnership also provided workshops about home economics, self-care, hygiene and productive entrepreneurship, including micro-credits for the beneficiaries. These workshops helped service users to realise that using gas instead of coal or firewood for cooking had benefits. As a result, the PPP successfully connected more than 10,000 low income families to the natural gas grid, resulting in social, environmental, and economic benefits. After the project, participating families needed less medical care and were able to reduce their expenditure on fuel. Consequently, this PPP contributed to curtailing poverty in this rural region of Colombia. 

The full case can be downloaded here.

Palm Oil

Conflict and conditions of poverty in the Colombian palm oil region Norte de Santander limit possibilities for small-scale growers to make the transition towards sustainable palm oil production. This hampers economic development for smallholders in the region. The required combination of environmental, social and economic aspects of the case called for a partnership between the National Association of Palm Oil Producers, Fedepalma, the private company Oleoflores, S.A., the Municipality of Tibu, the World Wildlife Fund and the Dutch Embassy in Bogotá. The partnership aims to develop and implement the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil certification scheme in the context of Norte de Santander for 680 palm oil producers. It is expected that the partnership results (a) ensure an improvement in the quality of life of the palm oil producing families of Norte de Santander and (b) develop the conditions for social and environmental sustainability and (c) strengthen the relations between palm oil producing communities, municipality and producer organizations. 

The full case can be downloaded here.

Pre Paid Electricity

In the department of Atlántico in Colombia, many families do not have access to electricity because they have no way of paying energy bills. They resort to using other forms of energy, or find illegal ways to take electricity. As a result, they put their health at risk and energy is often lost. Access to affordable electricity would improve their lives. But it’s not always economically viable for utility providers to connect families in these remote areas to the grid. The Dutch consultancy firm NuPlanet, the electricity suppliers Electricaribe and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands established a PPP to improve access to electricity in this poor and predominantly rural area, with support from Acquaire, a Colombian power company and the Colombian Institute of Planning and Promotion of Energy Solutions (IPSE). The PPP's goal was to expand electricity provision in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. The pilot project developed the technology for an innovative prepaid service for 250 families in the Atlántico department. This service alleviates the cycle of debt as well as supporting energy-saving, and the company gains paying customers. The successful introduction of a prepaid electricity service inspired other businesses to consider implementing similar systems for their own services. 

The full cases can be downloaded here