What a year 2015 was for SNV! We celebrated our 50 year anniversary with two magnificent events – one even attended by the King of The Netherlands – and we also marked the final year of half a century of institutional support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was an anxious but also exciting year for SNV. It was the final year to get everything in place for the “real take off” – to be able to spread our wings and fly completely solo. It also marked the final year of the four-year programme funded by DGIS.
When we started in 2011 to devise a strategy for the upcoming transition period, we knew we had an enormous challenge in front of us. We had to achieve the intended development results of supporting 15 million people to improve the quality of their lives while at the same time changing the structure and approach of the organisation to secure a sound future for SNV. This included massive cost reductions at both the country level and at the head office in The Hague.
As one can imagine, there was a level of uncertainty; a level of nervousness. We all asked the questions: What will happen after 2015? Will SNV still exist and if so, in what form? It was only natural to ask those questions. However, the organisation and its staff quickly started asking: What can we do to make the transformation a success? Where can we improve our operations and reduce costs? And this focus and determination to transform the organisation into a results-driven, fully-financial secure organisation, which is an expert in its defined sectors, has paid off.
Up until the end of 2015, SNV relied on a significant amount of generic funding from the Dutch government, but today we rely solely on funding from grants and tenders. After 2011 we put measures in place to improve the quality of our work and take on a more business-like approach to securing project funding. And this transformation has not slowed down the size of our operations but it has rather increased. In 2016 we expect to see revenue grow to at least EUR 105 million.
The success of transforming SNV into well-respected, independent development organisation is thanks to the support and determination of all SNV staff. Without their professionalism, dedication to sustainable development, and adoption and implementation of SNV’s mission and vision, none of this would have been possible. The restructuring of the organisation, however, also meant that we had to say goodbye to SNV staff who had been with us for many years. We thank them for all their hard work and wish them all the best for the future.
A major goal for 2015 was to strengthen SNV’s project management capacities. We updated our project management manual, which is now aligned with our Business Development guidelines and our global project information database. We finalised the training of more than 450 staff to become more efficient in starting, managing and implementing projects within time, budget and according to specification. Even though this training has improved our project management ability, there is still room for improvement. With challenges remaining, however, in 2015 we had considerably better results than expected. We implemented projects worth EUR 94 million (plan was EUR 75 million) of non-DGIS programme funding. This was partly due to an order portfolio that grew faster than expected but was also due to a stricter discipline in managing implementation.
In 2015, order intake hit a new record of EUR 155 million. This was 25% higher than planned and greatly contributed to the intended diversification of our funding base. This growth represents the confidence of the international donor community in SNV’s work. Notable was the EUR 35 million contract that SNV and knowledge institute IFPRI signed for a global partnership with DGIS on a 5-year evidence-based advocacy programme. The programme will strengthen the capacities of civil society organisations in six countries to articulate their thoughts and ideas and engage themselves in the public debate and serve the interests of low-income groups.
SNV’s global footprint was also maintained in 2015. We avoided the planned closure of the Cameroon programme by winning more work in the country. It is now managed by our office in Rwanda. The Niger programme has been brought under Mali and preparations have started to merge management of Benin with Burkina Fasso.
Under the title “SNV Fit for the Future”, our 50-year anniversary celebrations were a time to not only reflect on the history of SNV but also explore the challenges and opportunities to constructively engage with our partners in an endeavour to create a fair and sustainable future for everybody. The overwhelming interest in the events showed that SNV has special place in the hearts and minds of colleagues from the development sector and (former) employees.
In 2015, SNV developed a new strategy paper for 2016 to 2018. It consolidates the progress that has been made in the previous period (2012-2015) while intensifying our engagement in combating the impact of climate change, investing in integrated water resource management, addressing challenges in the urban context and in applying new technologies to achieve and account for results. More than ever we will bridge the gap between policies and implementation and take proven interventions to scale and increase their effectiveness and reach. We expect SNV to grow considerably in the coming years and strengthen its position in the international development arena.
We would like to thank DGIS for 50 years of support, our staff, donors and partners, who have all made SNV’s work meaningful. Let’s continue towards achieving our goal – a world where all people, irrespective of race, class or gender, enjoy the freedom to pursue their own sustainable development.
Allert van den Ham, Chief Executive Officer,
On behalf of the Managing Board