Mission to Colombia with 19 companies successful!10.04.2014
From 10 until 14 March, the SIB multisectoral trade mission to Colombia took place. This trade mission was commissioned by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and organized by Handelsroute and Transfer LBC with the intention to promote Dutch subsidiaries as ‘Starting International Business - Go Abroad , Well Prepared (SIB)’ and ‘the Transition Facility Colombia’.
Colombia economically interesting
Internationally Colombia is considered a promising economy, with its relatively good investment climate, good economic policies and developed financial sector. In addition, Colombia has a relatively young population of 45 million inhabitants with a rapidly growing middle class and a stable political situation. These are important ingredients for sustainable economic growth and therefore an interesting market for Dutch SME’s.
Dutch SMEs researching business options
In order to prepare the Dutch participating companies for the upcoming trade mission and to get a good idea of their wishes, they were interviewed personally by the organizers of the mission Handelsroute/Transfer LBC. This was followed by an intensive training in February at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) in The Hague. The training included a session with the Ambassador of Colombia, Mr. Eduardo Pizarro Leongómez , who insisted to be personally present. In a small presentation he informed the participants Colombia in a nutshell with a special focus on Colombia’s popularity among the foreign business community. Ms Jessie Brockhoff of Handelsroute has been moderated this morning in her own charming way.
Once arrived in the city of Bogota where all the 19 participants would spend the week at the NH93, the trade mission started with a City Tour on Sunday. The intention was to discover Bogota’s historical treasures, amongst others the Cerro Monserrate for a good overview of the city.
After the City Trip, all 19 participants were well informed about what to expect during the upcoming week through a general briefing by Gerald Baal of Transfer LBC. This was followed by a second training and an individual briefing for each participant. After this formal part an authentic dinner was served to get to know each other.
On Monday the mission started at the Dutch embassy with a warm welcome by Ambassador Mr. Robert van Embden. Mr. Joel Brounen of the Dutch embassy gave a detailed presentation and also Dutch companies already active and successful in Colombia were present to share their experiences and expertise with the ‘newcomers’.
Monday afternoon and Thursday morning there were two collective company visits: The first one to visit was Arnesse Y Gomas, a producer that started 35 years ago with cable constructions for the electrical equipment industry. Currently, approximately 125 people are working at the company that mainly supplies the automotive sector. The second company that was visited is the Colombian branch of Chrysal, a Dutch production company specialized in plant and flower nutrition. Ms María Alejandra Rodríguez, general manager of Chrysal told the participants the tips & tricks when starting up a Dutch company in Colombia.
The rest of the week each participant followed its individual tailor made visiting programme. In total more than 130 individual meetings were set up, including potential agents, distributors, importers, leads and other stakeholders. During the networking reception at the Holland House Colombia on Tuesday Gerald Baal took the opportunity to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and also ‘Cumpleaños Feliz’, together with the Dutch delegation and the Colombian attendees for his former Transfer colleague Jan Willem van Bokhoven, currently employed by the Holland House Colombia as Managing Director.
The participants look back at an impressive week. They were impressed by the high quality of the matchmaking, the organization of the trade mission and the good atmosphere among the participants. The trade mission was therefore rated with an average of 8.5!
They appreciated their stay in the NH93, the beautiful city with its typical atmosphere, the good food and ambiance in the restaurants and the hospitality and warmth of the Colombian people in general made them feel very welcome. Next to the City Tour also the last dinners at Andrés Carne de Res Chía and the Gaira Café Cumbia House, where the participants were pleasantly surprised by an unexpected exclusive concert by Mr. Carlos Vives himself, are both highly recommended when visiting Bogota.
Mr. Jeroen van den Brink, Program Manager at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)
"This trade mission on behalf of the Transition Facility and financed by RVO gave me the opportunity to really discover Colombia. I could not have wished for a better opportunity to do so. Handelsroute/Transfer LBC set up a programme that was sincerely well done. The group visits, matchmaking appointments, network activities and off course the social intercourse within the group have led to good leads and happy faces! For me this trade mission was a perfect varied introduction of the Colombian market. Once back in the Netherlands, I definitely will be more focused on promoting our services in Colombia”.
Mr. Arjen Stolk of Fruitmasters
" A full visiting program with impressive appointments with major supermarket chains such as Makro and Exito supplemented with fruit importers would have been already satisfying. However, I was really happy with the additional meetings with the government and ICA Invima because these appointments are essential to my business. This excellent matchmaking programme, supplemented with proper guidance and dinners like La Gaira where we were surprised by a performance of the Colombian singer Carlos Vibes, made this whole trip very successful. "
Mr. Marco Kortland of MID Support
" Back in town , sin embargo muy ocupado , Implementing Training III , follow up on leads in Bogotá :) ! Our brand new venture , MID Support , took off with a running start . The mission has been a great success , thanks for arranging very relevant meetings , in the most topical field of Integrated Solid Waste Management . Key to our success is the framework usefull provided by bilateral commitment between the Netherlands and Colombia: http://colombia.nlembajada.org/noticias/2014/03/paises-bajos-y-colombia-trabajan-juntos-para-gestion-integral-de-residuos-solidos.html
As a result , we will start with specific activities in Bogotá and Medellin , in the week commencing 7th of April . We have scheduled trips to Bogotá once every three months next , so indeed , we will strike while the iron is hot! "
Ms Kaushilya Budhu Lall of Meijer Lawyers
" Because my office is already active in Colombia I initially had my doubts whether I would go. After a brief conversation with Handelsroute/Transfer LBC they convinced me to participate. And I have no regrets. From head to tail the guidance was very professional and the organization of the trade mission grooming to perfection. Handelsroute/Transfer LBC arrived to set up individual meetings for us with a high added value and I also appreciated the ‘How to do business in Colombia’ trainings and useful networking opportunities. I was properly informed about additions or changes in the programme too. Also the good ambiance within the group created the opportunity to have a good time together and to share our experiences. Taking all these aspects into consideration I’m a 100% satisfied! "
Mr. John Soliana of Soliana Tax
"I’m very positive about the trade mission to Bogota with Handelsroute /Transfer LBC in which I recently participated. I appreciated the individual meetings with Colombian potential business partners in particular. Off course I also had adduced certain contacts myself, but thanks to the efforts of Handelsroute/Transfer LBC many doors opened for us in a much easier way than when we would have done it ourselves. Furthermore, there was ample opportunity to discuss the latest business developments in Colombia with the Dutch ambassador and his staff. I also gained good and close contacts with the other participants in the trade mission, bonding with them seemed like a natural process when sharing a week together. This trade mission was definitely worth it, not in the least thanks to the excellent work of Handelsroute/Transfer LBC."
Mr. Wouter van den Berg of Ringcredible ( RBN BV)
" I almost canceled my trip to Colombia because many meetings of my individual visiting programme had not been not confirmed by the Colombian partners until a few days before my departure. Luckily I decided to take the chance and leave for Colombia anyway. The team of Transfer in Colombia exceeded my expectations with a full visiting programme with extremely important strategic partners in the region and with large supermarket chains as Exito and Cencosud . Unfortunately the latter did not fit in my visiting programme, but that will be a good reason for a next visit! "
Mr. Jorik van Vlastuin of Movexx
"Participating in the trade mission to Colombia was fantastic. The business arrangements that have been set up for Movexx in general far exceeded my expectations. Compliments for Transfer / Handelsroute for the good organization, they have been of value preparing this trade mission but during the trade mission too. Combining business and pleasure made it an extraordinary mission. "