A year of transition

A year of transition

To increase effectiveness and reach impact at scale, strategic choices have been made in 2017. In order to improve the quality and impact of our work, a transition process has been set into motion early 2017, involving consultations with employees, volunteers and other stakeholders, including BCG, a reputable consultancy company that provided its services on a pro bono basis. The transition intended to:

  • Achieve focus on a limited number of countries and sectors


  • Achieve more impact by embedding PUMs activities within programs, and strengthen partnerships.


  • Invest in knowledge and skills of staff and volunteers


  • Redesign the support organisation for monitoring and quality improvement of services.


PUM achieved focus by a reduction of its portfolio from 68 countries in 2016 to 32 countries in 2017. The number of sectors PUM is active in was reduced with one third. Moreover, sectors have been grouped in 4 thematic areas: Food Security, Health and environment, Trade and Industry and Services. Presence of PUM in other countries, sectors and clusters has been phased out by the end of 2017, with the exception of externally funded activities in some countries. In order to select countries and sectors, 5 criteria have been used to establish the relative priority of the respective country or sector in PUM’s portfolio. Temporary categories were established: Focus, Build, Consolidate, Transform and Finalise, to allocate resources for a number of missions per country and sector in 2018. These categories and prioritisation served a good cause for planning in Country Action Plans (CAPs) and Sector Action Plans (SAPs) in the second half of 2017. In order to reduce complexity, these temporary categories will not be used any more in 2018.

Impact through partnerships for global propositions

PUM had developed activities around five Global Propositions to increase its impact, become more relevant to stakeholders and attract new sources of funding. These five Global Propositions are:

  • Trade promotion – PUM has implemented this proposition through business links between SMEs and Dutch companies and through the establishment of the PUM business circle.
  • Food security – Food security is a priority area for programme development, fundraising and relationships with Dutch partners.
  • Young professionals – This global proposition will partly be realised as part of the PUM business circle. The minimum age of 50 for a PUM expert has been abolished. Experience counts, not age.
  • Access to finance – In 2017, PUM prepared a pilot to achieve access to finance by SMEs that will be rolled out in two countries in 2018. Partnerships to promote access to finance were established with Lendahand crowdfunding and with BiD network.
  • Incubators – In 2017, PUM established a relationship with 20 incubator clients, to promote successful entrepreneurial trajectories. A number that is expected to increase in 2018.

To reduce complexity and facilitate operations, the 5 Global Propositions have been integrated in the 4 thematic areas of PUM: Food Security, Health and Environment, Industry and Trade, and Services.

Other priorities in the annual plan 2017

PUM’s intention expressed in the annual plan 2017 to expand in North Africa and to address migration and youth employment has been included in the awarded request for an additional 4.7 million Euros core funding. The request was prepared end 2017, and approved in March 2018.

Organisational transition

With support of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) that offered their services on a pro-bono basis, a transition plan was developed to facilitate the realisation of the Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 as well as the realisation of the subsidy proposal 2017 – 2020. A temporary Project Management Office provided guidance to the implementation of the transition plan. To implement this plan, 13 ‘charters’ comprising a variety of measures, including internal reorganisation and employee layoffs, was rolled out starting in February 2017 and was formally completed in December 2017. The main organisational changes were the installation of a Supervisory Board, a Board of Directors, an Executive Committee as a body of volunteer staff and the Board of Directors, the creation of a team of Advisory Services (knowledge management, volunteer development and support, business- proposition- and program development, communications) and a unit of management accounting. De number of staff volunteers, project officers and administrative staff was reduced to enhance efficiency.

Results of the transition and still to be done in 2018

As a result of the transition, PUM is now better able to monitor its activities and outcomes, leading to a better evidence base and enabling organisational learning. Higher qualified staff was recruited in the context of the transition. More focus was created. The basis has been established for the dissemination and adoption of a programmatic approach. Although the transition was formally completed, there is still quite some work to be done to realise the intended impact. The intended shift of the organisation should still be finalized. Full understanding at all levels of the strategic direction should still be achieved, as well as the intended quality of organisational effectiveness. Areas requiring attention are the further introduction and adoption of a programmatic approach with tools and guidelines. The implementation of a knowledge portal to ensure information can be accessed and disseminated is another goal to be achieved. Quality of all phases of the primary process needs to be improved. Training curricula for volunteers and local reps need to be developed. More female experts and young employees will be attracted. Roles of different groups of staff will be finetuned and understood. Information systems, administrative support and work processes should be improved. The organisational culture and particularly the relationship between volunteer and paid staff requires attention. The recent approval by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs of an additional amount of 4,7 million Euros for PUM’s work, is an important enabler for the adoption and dissemination of a programmatic approach.

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