Annual Report CBI 2021

Total employment supported

In 2021, the companies we supported provided 32,230 FTE jobs. This is a slight decrease compared to the number of FTEs per company in 2020. This decrease is possibly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Female employment – Male employment

Within our projects, we try to support and increase job opportunities for women. In 2021, the percentage of women in employment increased by 6% compared to 2022. This meant we achieved our target. To improve women’s economic empowerment, we encourage gender awareness in our projects.

Jobs for youth

Employment opportunities for young people are an important focus of our projects. When starting a project, we look at the potential for creating new jobs and the quality of existing jobs. In Ghana, for example, the primary goal was to create decent employment opportunities for young people. And as part of another initiative, CBI organised masterclasses on exports for alumni from the Orange Corners programme. This programme focuses on young entrepreneurs and is managed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

Keeping the Rwanda coffee sector alive

Rwanda has over 400,000 small-scale coffee growers. Most of these growers are ready to retire. But their children are not ready to take over the business. CBI partnered with Agriterra to launch the Speciality Coffee Rwanda project. The goal of this project was to attract more young people to the coffee sector. Thanks to CBI’s farm succession workshops and planning practices, the number of hectares young people manage increased from 15.1 in 2020 to 41.1 in 2021. Agriterra’s business development services bring businesses together and stimulate the involvement of younger generations in the value chain.

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Total SMEs supported

CBI supported 532 companies this year. This is slightly below our goal of supporting 645 companies and partly due to unfinished company selection for some new projects. Due to the pandemic, we have continued our digital coaching approach. In 2021, we helped 343 companies finalise their export marketing plan.

Total exports

Of the companies we supported in 2020 and 2021, 219 exported to Europe in 2021.  
How companies coped with logistics and communication problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic seems to depend on the diversity of their markets when the pandemic started. Many participating companies that were already exporting products or services, and had experience building international business relationships, maintained their turnover. The tourism sector was affected the most by COVID-19.


In 2021, our portfolio consisted of 43 projects. Many of these projects started before 2021. In 2021, we added 9 projects to our portfolio, and, at the end of the year, we completed 6 projects. We are currently carrying out projects in Asia, Central America (commissioned by DG DEVCO), East Africa, Eastern Europe (commissioned by DG NEAR), the Sahel, the MENA region and West Africa. 20 of our projects focused on agriculture, 8 on services (tourism and outsourcing), 11 on consumer goods (apparel, home decoration and home textiles), 1 on industry (engineering), and 3 projects had a multi-sector approach. Similarly to 2020, COVID-19 affected the implementation of our projects. Still, COVID-19 has offered opportunities for a digital approach to activities and the deployment of local expertise.

CBI project helped adapt business strategy during challenging times for tourism

Binod Adhikari is the co-founder of Aarya Village Travel, a tourism company that organises tailor-made trips to Nepal. He began Aarya Village Travel with less than a few hundred dollars. Within 10 years, he had turned it into an internationally trusted agency. The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on his business. He needed to do something. Thanks to what he learnt from a CBI project, he was able to change his business model and use new online tools to grow his company during the pandemic.

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Export enabling environment partners

In 2021, we worked with more people and organisations than in 2020. We work with business support organisations (BSOs) and other partners to enable export. This includes governments, trade promotion organisations, export promotion agencies and sector associations. The number of collaborating partners and supported BSOs grew to 95 and 103, respectively.

Market Information

In 2021, the number of CBI market information users grew by 20%. Our market information page views also increased by 30% to over 2 million. 451 companies read 1,427 market information studies that we published. Around 80% stated that the market studies were useful for their businesses. New studies on digitalisation and more relevant webinars helped achieve this growth.


As of 2021, CBI projects consider their effects on the climate. As a result, we reduce CO2 emissions where necessary and possible. In 2021, CBI identified possible reduction measures. Of the 219 companies that exported to the European Union, 75 met sustainability certifications/standards. The changes we have made contribute to the sustainability transition and the potential reduction of CO2 emissions in agricultural sectors.