Petra Albütz

This text describes a project of tri-angular cooperation, in which a donor agency from the North – in this case the German Society for International Cooperation GIZ  facilitates technical assistance by Chilean experts – in this case co-ordinated by the Chilean Cooperation Agency AGCI – to a comprehensive training programme of poverty alleviation in the Dominican Republic where they cooperated with Dominican agencies in order to create self-directed work opportunities for rural youth. Petra Albütz has been working in Latin America, and in particular in Chile, for the last 16 years. Since 2007, she has been responsible for coordinating Chilean projects of triangular South-South cooperation. The project that she describes has been included by the Task Team on South-South-Cooperation in its collection of case stories. For more information please consult

Support for the Self-employment of Vulnerable Rural Youth in the Dominican Republic

In this triangular cooperation project the following stakeholders were involved:

On the part of Chile, by the Solidarity and Social Investment Fund (FOSIS) and the Ministry of Planning (MIDEPLAN). The Fund of Solidarity and Social Investment Fund (FOSIS) of Chile is under the Ministry of Planning (future Ministry of Social Development).

The cooperation program was financed by the Triangulation Fund, a joint venture between the German Technical Cooperation (formerly known as the GTZ, now as the GIZ) and the Government of Chile, through the International Cooperation Agency of Chile (AgCI).

Correlative institutions in the Dominican Republic are the PROCOMUNIDAD social investment fund, the Ministry of Youth and the Ministry of Labour (called “Secretaries of State”), the technical training institute INFOTEP and development organisation for entrepreneurship PROMIPYME.

General Information

Between 2007 and 2010, the AgCI-GTZ Triangulation Fund funded a program of cooperation in which the Dominican Republic received technical assistance from Chile in strengthening the employability of young people of high vulnerability in rural areas. The program aimed to help improve the employability and life of young people through cross-sectional public programs in education, entrepreneurship, youth and community. Approximately 200 young people received training and microcredit for their ventures. At the end of the cooperation (2010), the Dominican Republic requested a second phase to continue the escalation of its public policy and expand the strategy to 2000 young people across the country. Currently it is proposing a new cooperation program in this regard to the Regional Triangulation Fund for Latin America (GIZ with several countries in the Region).

How it Began

The historical background of this technical cooperation lies in the framework of the XIII Conference of the Social Network of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in November 2006, where the Triangulation Fund between Chile and Germany financed the participation of two professionals from FOSIS. They were representatives of the programs Interjoven and Local Economic Development, made between the government of Germany and the government of Chile in bilateral cooperation, in conjunction with Chilean entities associated with the topic of youth and employment (FOSIS, the Solidarity and Social Investment Fund; INJUV, the National Institute for Youth; and SENSE, the National Service for Training and Employment).

During the conference, the Chilean professionals talked with representatives of the Community Development Initiatives Fund, PROCOMUNIDAD of the Dominican Republic, about the possibility of generating a cooperation in order to convey the inputs of the Interjoven (1998-2006) program. A particular interest was to facilitate a transfer of the work methodology developed by the entities participating in the Interjoven program, mainly of the innovative strategies for young people living in poverty on the issue of income generation and skills development (Proyecto Vida, CEFE methodology1).

The triangular cooperation program that resulted from these negotiations lasted 3 years (2007-2010). During this period, experts from Chilean institutions made 4 visits to the Dominican Republic for technical assistance and training, and correlative participating institutions from the Dominican Republic were in Chile 3 times for internships. The program concluded with an official closing ceremony in the Dominican Republic in which certificates of training were given to the 200 young beneficiaries, and with an international discussion seminar in Santiago de Chile. AgCI and the GTZ, with the participation of institutions from the various sectors, produced a booklet for distribution (see attached below) about the experience, with input from all stakeholders.

The Way the Partners Worked

Representatives of the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) in Chile and representatives of the Chilean International Cooperation (AgCI) began a formal partnership in 2006 with the goal of encouraging the triangular cooperation of Chile. The Triangulation Fund was created and so named with the purpose of co-managing and co-financing cooperation programs in which Chile would transfer successful strategies, based on previous Chilean-German bilateral cooperation programs, to third countries with a similar or lesser degree of development. The Triangulation Fund operates through formal requests to Chile from third countries requiring technical assistance in specific areas. These requests are channeled through AgCI counterparts in those countries (“focal points”). In Chile, AgCI coordinates with ministries from the various sectors to commit the necessary human resources for the cooperation. The GTZ office in Chile ensures the specific requirements of the Fund are adhered to: for example, that the subject of the cooperation has to reflect a previous bilateral cooperation between Germany and Chile. It is important to note that the Triangulation Fund only pays for travel and lodging for experts in the third country or professionals from the beneficiary country who come to do an internship in Chile. Costs (salaries) for Chilean experts who carry out the technical assistance are covered by the Chilean state.

During the implementation of the triangular program with the Dominican Republic, a multilateral management team was formed by the donor or supplier (Chile and Germany) side and met regularly to plan, design and coordinate program activities. All relevant actors participated in this team: the sector institutions FOSIS, INJUV and SENCE, the Cooperation Agency (AgCI) and the German cooperation office in Chile (GTZ). Representatives who participated in this team from the side of the beneficiary or recipient country (Dominican Republic) were PROCOMUNIDAD and the Ministry of Labour, which includes the state program “Youth and Employment”, through which the technical transfers are channeled. Decisions on the implementation of the cooperation (participants, content, institutions, agenda, etc.) were always agreed upon in this management team.

In parallel, in the Dominican Republic instances of coordination and complementarity were generated between the different Dominican institutional counterparts for the design and implementation of the intervention strategy: Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development, PROCOMUNIDAD, INFOTEP and PROMIPYME. Each has a specific role and makes specific contributions to the program. This strategy reflects the genuine effort of the Dominican Republic to transform the benefits of cooperation into a new country-wide program for disadvantaged youth in rural areas, enhancing their employability and their micro enterprises.

Additionally, new resources were incorporated from international and private institutions for cooperation to fund the intervention strategy: funds were negotiated from the IDB and the World Bank to implement the pilot strategy and resources from NGOs to finance business plans.

The leadership of the Dominican Republic in this case is notable because the team did not merely assume an attitude of receiving a transfer of knowledge, but actively participated in the transformation of the cooperation into a program of their own country, funded by Dominican and foreign resources (“ownership”).

Lessons Learned – The Benefits and Challenges of South-South Learning

We have taken away important lessons from the program’s working process and results. In this sense, triangular cooperation should:

  • Target a policy for the country. New resources of a substantial amount were obtained from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to strengthen and expand the inter-sectoral program (Youth and Employment) in accordance with the new intervention models. This level of institutionalisation means one can create a new public policy which is sustainable over time.
  • Look for inter-institutional synergies. Through the strategic partnerships among key actors of all the Dominican institutions that participated in the program, the levels of coordination and complementarity between them increased significantly.
  • Targeting the beneficiaries. As regards selection, it was decided to homogenise the target group (young people over 20 of the same educational level). In this way work could be carried out effectively and efficiently in strengthening cognitive skills, literacy, mathematics, social development, entrepreneurship, as well as in the area of personal development and psychosocial support (designing a life project).
  • Incorporate facilitators. To ensure the sustainability of the program over time, accompanying support was established for internships in businesses and micro-businesses and institutional follow-up.
  • Targeting access to microcredit. The young people selected must know the function of the enterprise that they want to develop. A further recommendation is to involve the families in order to achieve important emotional support.
  • Training trainers. An important lesson was that it is necessary to expand the capacity of trainers and facilitators in the program in the methodologies of entrepreneurship. The multiplier effect and appropriation of the strategy transferred (“ownership”) only develops fully if trainers have solid training and are aware of their role as multipliers. A strategy like this would eventually make the program dynamics become independent from the donor country and rooted in the host country.

All-in-all, the lessons learned show that the triangulation program allowed the installation of capacities in the correlated institutions in the beneficiary country and contributed to the creation of an innovative and intersectoral public policy on a large scale.

The socioeconomic and cultural proximity between Chile and the Dominican Republic was certainly a great advantage in the transfer of proven strategies from a country with similar levels of development.

However, there were also some difficulties and obstacles to cooperation that had mainly to do with the different pace of work that distinguishes the Caribbean and Southern hemisphere countries. Natural disasters and institutional uncertainties after the presidential elections in the Dominican Republic caused delays in program implementation several times.

Other significant difficulties were: the geographically dispersed intervention locations (much travel time needed to arrive there), the need for levelling of knowledge among the professionals who were trained as trainers, and the complex interaction between all participating institutions, both in Chile and in the Dominican Republic. The intersectoral team, which could define their roles and eventually work well, needed good time to get established.

Complementarity with North-South Cooperation

The cooperation program was funded by a traditional donor, the German Technical Cooperation (formerly GTZ, now GIZ). Undoubtedly, all the participants in the triangulation learned from this experience. Dominican institutions were benefited by learning from new models of intervention and the installation of an innovative youth employability program. Chilean institutions were confronted with an unaccustomed role, that of a new donor, learning to design transfer strategies and technical assistance (sectoral institutions) and models of cooperation (departments of international cooperation). The office of the German Technical Cooperation in Chile involved their counterparts in Germany and the Dominican Republic in the experience, learning to better manage the new cooperation model that is meant by triangulation.

A not insignificant factor, however, are the costs assumed by the Chilean sector institutions when conducting triangular or South-South cooperation programs. The policy design only plans to cover costs for travel and lodging for experts to foreign countries and for partners who receive internships in Chile. Any additional costs, especially the hours of labor invested by public sector professionals in the design and implementation of the triangulation, are not explicitly covered. Hence the figures in the triangular program budgets are very misleading.

Hidden costs needed to successfully realise a triangulation program in all its stages (diagnostic, technical assistance, training, internship, closing, assessment) are much higher than the costs for travel and accommodations, usually funded by the traditional donor. In this respect, accountability didn’t have any transparency problems, since it was quite easy to show travel and accommodation expenses. However, the real contributions of Chile as a donor of technical assistance and the Dominican Republic, which committed its own and foreign funds from various channels, were never examined and made transparent, because the Triangulation Fund model is based on the assumption of a “guarantee” of human resources and own efforts.

The FOSIS International Cooperation Department has made a study of actual costs of all the cooperation provided by the institution to various countries during 2008 (appraising human resource salaries). This study found that 50 % of all cooperation costs are carried by the institution, while AgCI and the international resources together assume the other 50 %.

How to Share

FOSIS has extensive experience in designing and implementing programs of triangular and South-South cooperation. It is one of the few Chilean public sector institutions which has designed its own model of international cooperation (presented as a case story on this page).

Logically, with the change of government in 2010, activities in the field of cooperation were reduced (until the new government has its own experiences to transfer to other countries). A lot of support from platforms and networks is needed in order to keep this subject alive in Chile.

Active participation in forums, seminars and conferences dealing with new trends and forms of cooperation can be very helpful in maintaining the contact network and learning from the experiences of other countries in the region and the world.



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