‘Crossing Continents’ – why it was the right place to be
Ten reasons why the Financeel Dagblad seminar ‘Crossing Continents’ on 29 Jan was the right place to be for me.
- I met Maria van der Heijden of Women on Wings whose core business is creating jobs for women in rural India. Dutch experts and companies collaborate. She says, ‘inequality in the world affects me very deeply.’ The business model is based on compassion.
- Gerda Verburg of the Food and Agricultural Organization was positive about Dutch entrepreneurs as the best possible in the field of agriculture and saw great chances for collaboration with the farmers of India.
- Kees Koelman proved just that by setting up a manufacturing for gherkins in South India already a couple of decades ago when there was ‘nothing there’. There’s something there now – four to five thousand farmers are growing gherkins via the route of contract farming. Four hundred people are employed in the factory.
- The fact that the farmers and the rest of India’s consumers didn’t think much of the gherkins and Kees Koelman didn’t think much of Indian food didn’t make anyone the poorer. The gherkins, classified in the bureaucratic system as a ‘medicinal cucumbers’ are for the export market.
- A manager from Deutsche Bank, sponsor of the event, confirmed the above over a cup of coffee. She said the Dutch and German employees of Deutsche/ ABN AMRO would understand each other so much better (and save money) with inter-cultural training inputs for work situations.
- All the speakers said, take the time to understand the local culture. It’s very important.
- Rutger de Bruin, entrepreneur settled in India, consultant for Dutch/Indian business collaboration said there’s lot’s that’s not known about India. Talked about ‘Holland House’ in Bangalore – an initiative to get sales by Dutch businesses together with the Netherlands India Business platform that assists with the rest of the logistics.
- Eva Reubsaet, twenty eight, woman, entrepreneur, founder of Booming India was one of the speakers and shared her experience of how well it could go, if you didn’t let the Dutch directness take over. She found another way to say ‘no’ when the Indian family who adopted her offered to find her a husband.
- The word of caution was a good one – take the time to understand and build trust before you set up something because getting out is legally much harder than getting it going.
- All the speakers/entrepreneurs who have succeeded said there’s a way to say ‘no’ to corruption, stick to it, and succeed.