10 years of Holland House Colombia: Interview with our executive director about its impact and future
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the more than 200 attendees, including members and partners, who joined us during this special occasion.
Together, we created an evening full of joy, friendship and memorable moments. We are honored and grateful for your support and collaboration throughout these wonderful 10 years of our journey.
Thanks to your trust and commitment, we have built bridges of collaboration and built solid relationships within the business world. Each of you has played an important part in our success and we feel blessed to count with your valuable support.
While looking at the future, we hope to further develop the bilateral trade relationships. Together, we can achieve new goals and meet the challenges that the future holds.
Let's continue to build a path of success and celebration together! Once again, thank you all for being part of this magical night and for being the fundamental pillars of Holland House Colombia.
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary, our executive director, Jan Willem van Bokhoven, summarizes the impact of a decade of work and describes the horizons for the future during an interview for Valora Analitik by Roberto Casas and published on 03/06/2023.
The Dutch-Colombian Chamber of Commerce, also known as Holland House Colombia, celebrated its tenth anniversary in Bogotá on June 1.
A day during which Holland House highlights the milestones it has achieved, from multiplying exports between the countries to its commitment and aim of offering continued export coaching to Colombian SMEs. Also, new sectors such as renewable energy are quickly becoming more important in the bilateral relation.
In the context of its 10 years of presence in Colombia, Valora Analitik talked to Jan Willem van Bokhoven, executive director of Holland House, who looked back at the common areas of exchange.
What were the business relationships like before Holland House?
Holland House was inaugurated in 2013. In the previous years, from 2010-2012, Colombia was not very present on the agenda of the Netherlands. This began to change as soon as Holland House was established in the Latin American country, being the first Bilateral Chamber in the world representing the 'Holland House model'.
This produced a lot of attention. It positively changed the perspective and image of Colombia in the Netherlands.
However, before it was not necessarily negative, but Colombia simply was not yet on the radar or on their list of priorities.
In 2013, when Holland House started, the number of Dutch companies established in Colombia with invested capital was established at 33. Nowadays, this number has grown to 350.
How does the future look like nowadays for trade relations between the two countries?
Our aim is to continue growing, that more companies will arrive and invest, and also that the exports from Colombia to Europe will continue to grow.
However, at the same time, there are a few specific goals: we want to take advantage of this moment that is going on in Colombia to build a bridge between Dutch investment and different sectors in Colombia.
Nowadays, this would be the case with the energy transition, in particular, with the development in wind and solar energy, or in the hydrogen sector. Here we see great opportunities.
A new horizon is to support these new sectors, but also to assist the agricultural sector, in order to create a better relationship with the rural areas and small producers. This is a priority.
It is likewise important to reconnect Colombia with the Caribbean, in particular, with the markets of Aruba and Curaçao, which may seem small, but nevertheless were very significant for the country.
How did bilateral trade look like in these past 10 years?
In these 10 years during which Holland House has been delivering work, we are talking about a little more than US$35 billion of Colombian exports to the Netherlands.
The exports from Colombia to Aruba, for example, has been totalled roughly US$6 billion, while from the Netherlands to Colombia it is estimated US$16 billion.
Meanwhile, Dutch investment in Colombia has been approximate US$5 billion, generating direct employment for 30,000 people.
Could you name some of its members?
Among the large companies established in Colombia are Makro, Phillips, Shell, Hunter Douglas, among others.
How do you support MSMEs?
The core of the work we do in the Chamber is to support MSMEs, whether Dutch, Caribbean or Colombian.
The strength of our work is to assist them and this consists of more than connecting with a customer, it is also important to prepare, train and really make sure that entrepreneurs provide of the basics and knowledge in order to be successful abroad.
What message would you like to share with the Colombian business community?
Since the Netherlands is the third largest destination worldwide for Colombian exports, we, at the Chamber, are proving day by day that you don't have to be big in order to be able to export.
Small and medium-sized businesses definitely can achieve to export to the European market, which in the first place seems big. But it can be done.
And any message for the Dutch entrepreneurs?
I hope we can continue with this trend that is going on at the moment. I think we are countries that have a very similar vision, for example, regarding energy transition and sustainable development.
The challenges we have here in Colombia are the same as we have there, in the Netherlands.