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Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Redefining CBI’s role in a transformative future


NGO Impact


Future Visions, Co-creation


Frédérique Moolenbeek
Elisabeth den Heeten


CBI, the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, are part of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. CBI supports SME’s to become successful exporters on the European market through export coaching projects. However, in this fast moving world their role is increasingly under pressure. In fact, digitisation and digitalisation are profoundly changing the world economy, consequently affecting the role of CBI. From a traditional role in research and opportunity scoping for underdeveloped countries, CBI needs to transform to better lead the way in digitising importing sectors and industries.
How to keep up? How to organise for digital innovation and transformation.


In collaboration with CBI, we explored three future scenarios for digitisation affecting trade using Fronteer’s Parallel Perspectives and Future vision tool. By framing the future, we defined a clear scope and playing field for co-creation. We co-created many concepts and explored opportunities with a wide array of experts, each contributing with their own perspective on the topic. Experts from the Port of Rotterdam, Royal Flora Holland, PostNL and FrieslandCampina joined us for an afternoon of inspiration and co-creation, tackling topics like: What do entrepreneurs & suppliers in developing countries need, or need to do to stay in and stay relevant in an increased digitising world of trade? How will it affect the way they are doing business? What is the role of CBI in this dynamically changing landscape?


Key trends such as transforming trade, an increasing and shifting global demand, and many tools for change such as AI & IOT lead to believe there is a value chain paradigm. However in trade many traditions, cultures and etiquettes hold back on this momentum. Social and human skills, and above all obtaining trust remains key to doing business anytime, anywhere. In the paradox of both, there are many opportunities and roles for CBI to play in the future landscape of export. Together we identified and prioritised roles and actions for CBI’s future.



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