Johan Cottenie

As an actively retired agricultural engineer, I worked my entire professional career within development cooperation. The first seven years of my career I worked on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Afterwards I followed up projects from Belgium, as head of the South Service of 11.11.11. During this job I came into close contact with partners from all over the world and I got the chance to travel to Africa regularly. For the last seven years I was director of the NGO federation, which regulates the relationship between the NGOs and the subsidizing government.

When I retired 5 years ago, I continued to offer my services to the sector as an independent consultant. This is how I ended up at Exchange, where I supported the Exchange team together with a team of consultants in developing a new strategic plan. I have especially discovered important things here myself: while the classic NGO sector is very strongly – perhaps too strongly – dependent on government subsidies, the Exchange working model is a lot more dynamic, not built on input of money, but on the exchange of knowledge. And of course with a very strong role for the private sector in the development of Africa!

From this brief assignment as an outsider, I rolled into a permanent relationship with Exchange. First as a programme coach for four partners in Malawi, and since the end of September as a programme manager for this warm country.