BEI Weekly Update
Apr 26, 2024

BEI Weekly Update - 26th April 2024

Dear Members and Friends,

This has really been an exceptionally busy week in (and broadcasting from) Grafton Street. It’s been good seeing so many members in person over the past few days and hearing your perspectives, whether on panels, in Q&A or over coffee. It’s been a very graphic illustration of the power of the “network effect” in action.  

We started on Tuesday with an online discussion of opportunities in infrastructure, energy and climate in Kenya. Over 80 participants had the opportunity to hear from two colleagues from DBT. Naomi Kinyanjui, Senior Trade and Investment Adviser and Fridah Cherono, Trade and Investment Adviser explained government priorities and plans across infrastructure, renewable energy and climate change mitigation and adaptation, highlighting some of the instruments available to support UK organisations in business development and FDI.

A second online session on Tuesday focused on developing strategies at USAID. Joshua Kauffman, Senior Advisor in USAID’s Bureau for Planning, Learning and Resource Management set out a strategic vision for international development, translating U.S. national security and foreign policy goals into Agency priorities and ensuring coherence across USAID’s development, humanitarian and crisis response policies and implementation. While we are of course valuable and are very keen to maintain our close historic relationship with the UK Government, it’s also important that we provide opportunities for engagement with other major donors as well as the development banks and we are most grateful to USAID among others for taking the time to speak to our members.

On Wednesday, we were privileged to host a very substantial conversation on ICAI’s climate finance review, which was published recently. Chief ICAI Commissioner Dr Tamsyn Barton outlined the report’s findings and ICAI’s expectations for how FCDO and other concerned Departments would work to keep to challenging climate finance targets in a tough fiscal environment. We are also grateful to Debbie Palmer, Director Energy, Climate and Environment at FCDO for her open and thoughtful comments on how the Government is seeking to meet the challenges highlighted in the report, in advance of the publication (due soon) of the Government’s official response. As those of us who have worked on governance issues around the world know, accountability is a “must have” for successful and sustainable policy and delivery: this conversation demonstrated both the rigour of ICAI’s approach and the collaborative manner in which FCDO responds to challenges. I very much look forward to continuing to work with ICAI. As the interactive discussion showed, our members can do much to support efforts towards enhanced accountability through leveraging their expertise and experience on the ground.

Proving that we can run two events simultaneously, Strategy International Senior Adviser Nick Forbes also spoke on Wednesday afternoon in a virtual discussion as part of our “Election Watch” series on “Strengthening National Security and Resilience in Global Omni-crises”, covering aspects of security and resilience of interest to our members and those of D Group. More on these sessions to follow.   Meanwhile, look out for the next in this series: “The Devolution Arms and Place Race”: If Labour form the next Government, this is likely to be a high priority and one which I sense even businesses with a primarily international focus will need to pay attention to.

We’re used to welcoming you to Grafton Street, but we are also keen to take the British Expertise message out beyond Mayfair to broaden our network and bring our members’ message to a wider audience. On Thursday, I had the unusual opportunity to chair a joint BEI/D Group event in the splendid setting of the Mansion House. We were invited to host a panel as part of the Lord Mayor, Alderman Michael Mainelli’s, “Coffee Colloquies” series on SDG 9: “Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”. With speakers from our members Mott Macdonald, Pearson, Absa, Change School, BSI and Viasat, as well as our valued partners Ploughshare, we explored multiple facets of the infrastructure ecosystem, including delivery, skills, finance, standards and innovation, and the need for strategic collaboration between all the players. The lively Q&A session at the end showed that we indeed succeeded in reaching out well beyond our regular network. My sincere thanks to all the panellists and all those who joined us in the City. Look out for a more detailed report on the session to follow.

Fresh back from the Mansion House, we were joined for the last event of the week, a meeting of our International Development Heads of Business round table, by Beverley Jandziol, Commercial Director, and Nicola McDonald, Head of Supply Chain Management, at FCDO. The presentations included some detail on what will change with the implementation of the new Procurement Act – short answer: a great deal for all tenders advertised from implementation day, 28 October. It was also important to understand the centrality of the White Paper to FCDO strategy. Beverley and Nicola also talked about evolving FCDO thinking on localisation, which is conceived as a substantive move to involve beneficiary countries more in their own development (not just a shift to a greater role for the local offices of international actors) and is a FCDO-owned process, not a cut-and-paste copy of  other donors’ practices. Discussion centred on how our members can help FCDO to deliver the change they are clearly committed to, not least in the context of tightening resource pressures. We are very grateful to Beverley and Nicola for taking the time to meet our Heads of Business. What came across loud and clear was the passion with which FCDO is determined to make the new arrangements work for the good of the UK’s international development impact, and their readiness to work closely with business, large and small. Luisa will share some more thoughts soon.

In the spirit of FCDO’s openness to SMEs as well as larger companies and organisations, we are very excited to launch next Tuesday a new opportunity for the wider SME community to hear from members of the FCDO’s SME Forum. Our aim is both to ensure that members of the Advisory Forum are briefed on the views of the full range of SME suppliers and also to enable them to provide feedback after their meetings. We plan to facilitate a quarterly meeting, chaired by the SME Forum members, for all interested SME suppliers (whether BEI members or not). Speakers will include Charlie Duff, Managing Director and Vice President, Alinea International; and Sue Griffiths, Managing Director, Social Development Direct. I believe this is an important addition to our toolbox to promote dialogue between our members and FCDO.

On Wednesday, we celebrate May Day with our monthly Climate Change Networking Evening, at which the keynote speaker will be Dr Steven Wade, Technical Director of Climate Resilience at AtkinsRéalis. Steven will discuss several “wicked” climate change problems, where there is a rapid increase in the risk to the UK and internationally. He will reflect on how our approaches to risk assessment and adaptation planning have changed since the 1990s and on how much progress the UK has made in climate change risk and adaptation since the 2008 Climate Change Act.  

My warm wishes for a relaxing weekend in preparation for a stimulating and successful week ahead,

David Landsman 

Executive Chairman

British Expertise International

Recordings of recent past events:

Key events coming up include the following:

  • 30th April 2024 15:00 - 16:30 BST: SME Wider Community Engagement with the FCDO SME Advisory Forum - BEI is delighted to announce the collaboration towards supporting the members of FCDO’s SME Advisory Forum to engage with the wider SME community. Join us for our first virtual meeting led by the FCDO SME Advisory Forum members: Charlie Duff, Managing Director and Vice President, Alinea International and Sue Griffiths, Managing Director, Social Development Direct.
  • 1st May 2024 16:00 - 19:00 BST: Climate Change Networking Evening - Join us for an evening of thought-provoking conversation. Our keynote speaker this time is Dr Steven Wade, Technical Director at AtkinsRéalis. Steven will discuss several “wicked” climate change problems with rapid increases in risk affecting large numbers of people in the UK and internationally, and reflect how our approaches to risk assessment and adaptation planning have changed since the 1990s.
  • 8th May 2024 16:00 - 17:00 BST: The Devolution Arms and Place Race - Both main political parties have flagged an increasing commitment to regional devolved decision making. For Labour, greater economic devolution is a key pillar of their emerging industrial strategy. They are actively empowering local leaders to bring their knowledge to bear and tailor economic policy to support growth and aligned implementation of their core missions.
  • 14th May 2024 09:00 - 10:30 BST: FCDO Development Director: Indonesia & Minister-Counseller Development in UK Mission to ASEAN - Join us as we host Amanda McLoughlin, FCDO Development Director in Indonesia for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), as well as Minister-Counsellor Development for the UK Mission ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations), who will present FCDO’s development strategy, programming and pipeline of opportunities in Indonesia and in partnership with the ASEAN Secretariat.
  • 16th May 2024 16:00-18:30 BST: Addressing the Skills Gap - Join us for an in-person round table on Addressing the Skills Gap. Pearson will provide a better understanding of the current skills gap in the UK and globally. They will also discuss solutions for employers which build towards a sustainable approach to developing skills that is able to respond to future economic and global transformation, especially in the infrastructure and climate change sectors.
  • 23rd May 2024 16:00 - 17:00 BST: Britain’s Place in the World: Linking Foreign and Defense Policy with Trade - Labour has spelled out its view of ‘progressive realism’, which sees the UK becoming more active in promoting a values-based global order. In addition, Labour’s industrial strategy is clear on the need to identify ‘global champions’. From a range of sectors, these businesses are highly productive and create thousands of well-paid jobs. Labour has made it clear they understand the need to create a stable environment for these global champions.
  • 12th June 2024 16:00-17:00 BST: Britain’s Place in the World: Does Charity Begin at Home? - The Labour Party clearly recognise the importance of the UK’s investment in development. They have stressed the importance of focus and prioritisation of effort aligned to the UK’s core strengths, while continuing to support the poorest countries and communities globally. As a key pillar of UK foreign policy and tangible evidence of the UK’s soft power, the specific plans and priorities will be important beyond the development community.
  • 13th June 2024 16:00-19:00 BST: Skills & Training WG: Skills - Sectoral Approach - Our June Skills & Training Working Group will look at the importance of taking a sectoral and thematic approach to international skills provision. This session will be led by Jonathan Ledger CMgr FCMI, Skills and Professional Bodies Specialist at the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) and new Expert Adviser to BEI’s Working Group; and Jane Rexworthy, FInstLM, Chartered FCIPD, Executive Director at People 1st International and Chair of the UK Skills Partnership (UKSP).
  • 26th June 2024 16:00 - 17:00 BST: What is Infrastructure for Opportunity and Does it Mean Game Over for Levelling Up? - Labour clearly sees the link between infrastructure investment and wider economic growth. They have expressed their intention to drive quicker and cheaper delivery of major projects, unlocking private sector investment. The announcement of the British Infrastructure Council signals Labour’s intention to turn this into reality.
  • 3rd July 2024 16:00 - 17:00 BST: Britain’s Place in The World: Using UK Soft Power More Effectively - If Labour wins the election, they will be keen to ensure that the UK’s reputation on a global stage becomes part of its toolkit to drive economic and social prosperity. From their commitment to the culture and the arts, to their belief in the strength of the UK’s reputation across sport and education, soft power has a key role to play.

Register for an upcoming event →

External Events

  • 30th April - 1st May 2024: Innovation Zero 2024 Agenda: Innovation and Leadership in the Low Carbon Transformation: Innovation Zero, the UK's largest sustainability conference, returns to London Olympia for the second edition on 30 April - 1 May 2024, alongside its new co-located event, Infrastructure Zero. Join our Director of Climate Resilience and Infrastructure, Alexandra Barnes, as she chairs a panel titled “The Future of Water: How we Advance Resilience in a Changing Climate” at Innovation Zero 2024.
  • May 1st 2024: Delivering on Global Mental Health FHI 360 UK will host an engaging conversation with experts from FHI 360, United for Global Mental Health, Wellcome Trust, Johnson & Johnson, and others who will share their insights and experiences on advancing mental health research, advocacy and innovation. Learn about the latest evidence, best practices, and emerging solutions for improving mental health outcomes and reducing the treatment gap. 
  • May 2nd 2024: Business Investment Seminar with Chief of Secretary of Tobago’s House of Assembly, Hon Augustine Farley - The Caribbean Council is pleased to welcome British Expertise International members to this event and offer them a 40% discount as members. To book and get the discount, please email Maria Tereza (
  • June 17th – 27th 2024:Made in the UK Sold to the Indo-Pacific: Meet The Experts - Want to hear from sector specialists, market experts and other companies about opportunities in the Indo-Pacific? This two week series of in-person events is run by the UK Government and their partners.

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