As a non-profit association, Water Solutions International makes innovative solutions and technologies in the field of water and sanitation accessible in developing and emerging countries. Frank Pogade, chairman of the association, explains the aims and areas of activity of the association.
Mr. Pogade, what does Water Solutions International e.V. do?
Pogade: We are an association that strives to transfer knowledge and technologies from Germany or Europe to developing countries. We focus not only on hardware, but especially on education, training and capacity building. We follow a holistic approach and try to work especially in developing countries where we believe we can add value.
We are a group of around 30 international and very experienced consultants. Only natural persons can become members, i.e. no companies or organisations. In doing so, we rely on the many years of experience of our members. A few years ago, we thought about how we could better network, inform and exchange information about projects and project opportunities and help each other. This networking idea has developed further, so that today we are an association instead of just a community of individual consultants.
What role do projects in foreign trade promotion and development cooperation (DC) play here?
Pogade: Many of our projects are DC-related, because we have all been working for organizatiosn like the World Bank, GIZ and KfW as individual consultants for many years. But in the meantime, we have also started working as institutions in DC projects. Besides, we work in projects that are financed through our own sources, through donations and membership fees. We also develop projects ourselves for which we are looking for investors. This concerns, for example, the area of CO2 compensation. We also have the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in mind.
How important are foreign markets for your organisation?
Pogade: We only work abroad, whereby our assignments and experience are naturally based on training and background knowledge from Germany. Traditionally, we are very strongly represented in Vietnam, because many of our members are also based there. We have projects and good contacts in Jordan and Africa as well and we want to expand these further.
Which GWP activities and which working groups are especially interesting for you and what do you except from GWP?
Pogade: In addition to general networking, South East Asia, especially Vietnam, is of course important to us. We are extremely well connected there. But we notice again and again that it never hurts to bring along an official representative, especially in new projects – be it a contact to a ministry, to the embassy or something similar. These are things that an association like GWP can of course provide and that is very helpful.
How do you assess the Vietnamese market for German companies?
Pogade: Vietnam has been relatively high on the list of many consulting firms for several years. The entire German consulting industry is present in Vietnam and is earning a lot of money. However, that is declining. We are noticing that the private sector is currently growing enormously in Vietnam. I am cautious with forecasts that the German water industry could supply a lot of plants here, because that is still difficult. But with expertise and especially with the participation in companies, there are a lot of opportunities here. If you are prepared to get involved in the market, for example with a subsidiary or with a small investment, then that is promising.