Aidex Voices

AidEx caught up with Niels Ramm, Project Manager at the UN Global Marketplace (UNGM) to hear how they work. The UNGM is the United Nations’ common procurement portal which brings together UN procurement staff and the worldwide vendor community.

We’re excited to have you as an exhibitor this year. Can you tell us a bit about the UNGM itself? 

Our portal is a single window through which potential suppliers can register with UN organisations using the UNGM as their vendor database. These organisations account for over 99% of the total UN procurement spend. And in 2014, the UN spent more than USD $17,2 billion on products and services. The UNGM constitutes an excellent springboard for introducing new products and services to many UN organisations, countries and regions, simply by completing one online registration form. 

So what are the advantages of having one common UN global procurement portal as opposed to separate UN agencies’ vendor rosters? 

The portal is a great way to simplify the procurement process. Instead of registering with 26 separate UN organisations and agencies, vendors only need to register on the United Nations Global Marketplace. Furthermore, the UNGM facilitates the registration process with the most relevant UN agencies, providing more extensive opportunities for vendors. The portal also consolidates tender opportunities and send vendors relevant notices via email. 

When sourcing suppliers, UN procurement staff have access to the information of vendors registered on UNGM. In this way, the UNGM also functions as a knowledge portal, providing access to procurement-related information and updates. 

How many vendors are currently registered with the portal? 

There are currently more than 82,000 potential vendors registered on the UNGM. The majority of companies (60%) on the portal are from developing countries and countries with economies in transition - Eastern Africa is the leading region in terms of registrations. And five developing countries, including China and Kenya, are amongst the top ten countries. 

What are the most important attributes that you look for in a new vendor?

Procurement in the UN is based on principles of fairness, integrity, transparency, effective competition and value for money. UN organisations use donor funds when procuring products and services for their respective programmes, so transparency and accountability are absolutely essential. UN organisations expect vendors to adhere to the guidelines set out in the Supplier Code of Conduct and to have a proven track record of performance, experience and financial stability. Specific evaluation criteria vary from tender to tender. 

What do you do to attract more suppliers from developing countries?

The principles of fairness and effective competition mean that we do not have specific programmes or incentives for suppliers from the developing world. However, we are dedicated to sharing information and assisting all vendors about procurement opportunities. UNICEF, for instance, has an initiative focused on capacity building for vendors of strategic products in specific regions. 

What should potential vendors keep in mind if they are interested in joining the UNGM?

Like any other potential market, supplying to the UN requires preparation and research. To avoid being overwhelmed by information and paperwork, suppliers need to familiarise themselves with terminology and processes. We recognise and appreciate that participating in a tender process requires a significant upfront investment from the supplier’s side. We encourage potential suppliers to be persistent and patient, to ask for clarification where unsure and for feedback when unsuccessful.