We gather Nordic companies with focus on doing business with UN agencies and UN tendering

How to do business with UN Agencies?

Our Nordic UN Business Cluster gathers companies that are doing business with UN Agencies in Africa or wish to do so. The aim of the cluster is:

  • Identifying business opportunities and barriers.
  • Discuss challenges and possible solutions.
  • Knowledge sharing – meet and learn from other Nordic suppliers and UN experts.  
  • New collaborations between suppliers.
  • UN delegations to Africa.

The topics in the cluster meetings are many and depend on companies’ stages of excellence in doing business with the UN. The topics include (but are not restricted to): 

  • How to get access to UN tendering?
  • How to overcome the tender process, compliance to UN regulations and procedural work?
  • How to get access to key decision makers?
  • How to align with UN demands and proper communication?
  • How to expand UN foot print?
  • How to make UN a profitable customer (from volume to profit)?
  • How to become a go-to partner/preferred supplier?

At the meetings, we also discuss how to access to the various UN Agencies e.g: WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA (not limited to these).

Target group for the cluster: Nordic companies in all sectors doing business with the UN. 

Meeting duration

We will have around10 meetings in total a year in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. 

Annual fee 

Members of AFRICA INNOVATION NETWORK: Free of charge
Non-members: EURO 1700 (ex. VAT) a year (each company) 

Go to market – doing more business with the UN in Africa

Addressing the UN organisations in different African countries in a structured and well-prepared way is key to unlock an attractive and sustainable business potential. Our experiences show that a one-size “go-to-market approach” does not fit all. Companies differ along an array of important factors, e. g. their prior experience with the UN, their product’s/services fit to UN tenders and their niche/broad product play, to name a few. At AFRICA INNOVATION NETWORK®, we call this your Stages-of-Excellences (SoE) in doing business with the UN and depending on where you are on this scale, your go-to-market approach should reflect this.

Our Nordic UN Business Cluster gives the opportunity to meet and learn from other Nordic suppliers and help to accelerate your success, irrespectively to whether your are: A “first timer” not landed a contract yet with the UN, or have landed your first large contract and are wondering how to utilize and expand further within UN globally. The cluster is also for companies that are experienced UN suppliers in Africa and and exploring how to become a go-to partner/preferred supplier, and for companies that have landed multiple contracts over multiple years but not profited yet, or maybe have become an experienced and sought after partner to the UN and looking at what’s next?

Besides our UN Cluster meetings, we also arrange UN business delegations to different African countries. Please check delegations for more information about the next UN delegation. The delegations give you access to meet a range of key persons in UN agencies and create awareness of your company products, services and concepts. If you are a well-established company in the UN procurement system, you will gain scale-up opportunities and build new business relations. If you are a company that is new to the UN procurement system, you will gain first-hand knowledge on how the local UN agencies work, how the tendering process is executed locally and get the opportunity to pitch your business, products, services or concept to relevant UN contacts.

Roundtable meetings and UN business delegations

Roundtable meetings

In collaboration with Business Finland, we invite Nordic companies with focus on business with the UN to join our Nordic Cluster meeting in Helsinki. The roundtable meetings gather Nordic companies that are doing business with the UN (or wish to do so) as well as get relevant facts and figures about procurement and tendering. Registration is mandatory

Roundtable meetings and UN business delegations

  • November 10th – 12th, 2021: Nordic UN “Go to market” Business Delegation to Kenya 
  • August 26th, 2021: UN procurement overview – meet the UN representatives from UNDP, UNOPS, UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF.   
  • June 4th, 2021: How to get access to the UN procurement tendering and registration at the UN Global Market Place (UNGM)
  • May 19th, 2021: Doing business with the UN webinar in collaboration with Innovation Norway   

THE UN – facts 

The United Nations reported a total procurement volume of $22.3 billion in 2020. This was the highest procurement volume recorded to date, with an increase of $2.4 billion (12.3 per cent) compared to the previous year. The increase was driven mainly by two categories linked to the UN system response to the COVID-19 pandemic: Medical equipment and Laboratory and testing equipment.

The Africa region had an increase of $458 million, or 12.0 per cent, in 2020, with a total share of 19.1 per cent of UN procurement. The largest increases, from suppliers in Zimbabwe, Sudan and Niger ($61 million, $53 million and $41 million, respectively), were offset by decreases from suppliers in Rwanda and the Congo (down $23 million and $19 million, respectively). WFP had the largest increase from the region of $179 million, mainly from suppliers in Sudan ($71 million) and Ethiopia ($55 million). UNICEF and UNDP contributed to the increase, while UNPD and UNOPS had the largest decreases from the region.

Nordic companies can benefit by getting better acquainted with the exciting opportunities that the UN market has to offer. The world is facing some of the biggest challenges of our lifetime. In order to eradicate poverty, combat inequalities and fight climate change and the pandemic, we have now received a common work plan – the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Nordic companies have expertise, knowledge and resources that are essential in creating global solutions that will contribute to sustainable development.

Sustainability is key in the procurement process; within the three recognised pillars of sustainability (environmental, social, economic). The distribution has been relatively balanced since the 2018, however, integration of social considerations increased significantly in 2020, from 56.4 percent to 79.5 percent of organisations bringing them to the same level as economic considerations. In 2020, 92.3 percent of organisations integrated environmental considerations.

The UN is the world’s largest purchaser of goods and services from private companies, and Copenhagen is the UN’s second largest procurement centre. The offices in New York and Copenhagen account for 70% of all UN’s procurement.The UN is a large global system that needs everything from office supplies to complete hospitals and power plants. 

Procurement of goods and services by the UN system falls into a range of categories, and although the volume of spend within categories changes from year to year following evolving demands, the key sectors of procurement remain largely the same: 

  • Health

  • Construction, Engineering and Science

  • Food and Farming

  • Transportation and Storage

  • Administration and Operations

  • Media, IT and Communications

  • Finance, Insurance and Real Estate

  • Utilities

  • Humanitarian Aid, Peace, Security and Safety

  • Travel, Accommodation and Catering Services

  • Other Goods and Services

  • Motor Vehicles, Industrial Machinery and Heavy Equipment

  • Education, Training and Recreation.

Facts and figures are retrieved from the latest Annual Statistical Report on UN Procurement


Statements from the members 

Danish companies have an excellent track record in terms of doing business with the UN – and other humanitarian organizations. As a consequence there is a significant knowledge pool to work with. The UN Business Cluster presents a unique opportunity for knowledge sharing and further improving our trade position”.

Mr. Torben Holm Larsen, Technical Director, Real Relief  

With its healthy mix of industries, the UN cluster creates a community that is fueled by its common goal. A place where synergies and knowledge sharing can be put into action for the good of Nordic businesses”.

Mr. Johan Dalheim, Regional IV Manager Aid & Relief Europe, DSV/Panalpina

“AP services A/S supports several UN & EU organizations around the globe. Even so, we are always looking for new and interesting ways to cooperate between companies and with new organizations. AP services A/S strongly believe in building new and strong relations which will effort our clients in the end. The UN Business Cluster gives us exactly these opportunities and therefor it is worthwhile investing time and effort in“.

Mr. Allan Pedersen, Founder, AP Services A/S  

“In sub-Saharan Africa, infectious diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS cause 69% of deaths. Though we can deliver short-term aid and try to develop innovative vacinnes or treatment for diseases, the real issue is the danger of a weak healthcare system. To address this, we must focus on building better healthcare infrastructure in Africa”

World Economic Forum 

AFRICA INNOVATION NETWORK® UN Business Cluster is for companies that would like – or already do – business with UN Agencies. If you would like to apply for membership of our UN Business Cluster, please send us a message by using the contact form. Contact Mr. Flemming Sørensen  fls@nordic-african.com