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Western Balkan: Wrap-up and Outputs of Five-Month Business Resilience Standards Training of Trainers

For over a year, the Covid-19 pandemic has harmed not only people’s health but also the economy. Similarly to other sectors, businesses have been hit hard by the risks and economic consequences from the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus. Business as usual has become the most desired state which companies and institutions wish to return to. To achieve this goal, Western Balkans businesses and other institutions can now benefit from a hands-on booklet and access to trained experts in their countries to increase their business resilience by drawing on established international standards.

To assist the six Western Balkans countries to recover from the Covid-19 crisis and be better prepared for future crises, the Regional Consultancy Fund for Quality Infrastructure (SEE QI Fund), funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, developed a Training of Trainers (ToT) programme on Business Resilience Standards. This was managed by Stefan Wallerath, together with the technical expert Hanspeter Ischi and the capacity development expert Suzana Lange. The training, attended by more than 30 participants with diverse professional backgrounds from Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania, was part of the SEE QI 8 project Western Balkan QI response to Covid-19.

The course covered a comprehensive package of standards related to business resilience, leadership and practical application in case studies. An interactive virtual training approach, a regional network of trainees and future trainers as well as lectures by Western Balkan trainers who are familiar with the local context guided the participants to become trainers themselves. The PTB trainee Sophie Salimkhani ensured the smooth running of the course and supported the active engagement of the participants. Since Business Resilience is an extensive, the training consisted of 16 sessions of three hours each and took place from 4 March to 1st July 2021. “Covering an ISO standard in six hours is just the minimum amount of content we can offer in a remote online course,” states Hanspeter Ischi, training coordinator and consultant in conformity assessment, quality management and organisational development.

Another output delivered by the ToT programme is a Business Resilience Standards booklet, put together by the ToT organizers and featuring contributions by the six regional trainers in the course. Each Western Balkans expert elaborated his or her interpretation of the respective standard in a chapter, thus giving the reader a detailed insight in topics such as Risk Management, Business Continuity Management and Leadership. Compiled in a publication of 182 pages, this educational resource provides a comprehensive overview of business resilience standards to help businesses address Covid-19 related economic challenges and prepare for future ones.

Another advantage of the course has been the professional promotion of the newly trained participants and the facilitation of contacts to potential clients. The ToT programme encouraged the trainees to conduct a free pilot training, consultancy or webinar, which improved their marketing skills and increased the tangible benefit of the ToT programme for Western Balkan businesses. The SEE QI Fund compiled in the brochure Trained Experts of Business Resilience the professional profiles of the six regional trainers and those of 17 trainees, who contributed written case studies based on the pilot trainings for businesses which they conducted as part of the ToT programme. The ToT facilitators hope that Western Balkans businesses, other potential clients as well as international cooperation projects active in the field of economic development will consult this brochure and are happy to give personal recommendations to match qualified experts.

While the ToT course officially ended on July 1st with participants’ presentations of their case studies, an exchange of experience and the official handing in of certificates, this marks only the beginning for the newly trained trainers, consultants and advisors in business resilience standards. In addition to their individual achievements, the ambitious collaboration among the participants, regional experts and SEE QI facilitators created a tight network of like-minded people, who share an enthusiasm for strengthening business resilience in the Western Balkans and beyond.

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