On March 30th 2016, on behalf of eFarmer B.V. I have participated in Ukraine-Netherlands Business Forum, where Dutch and Ukrainian business discussed the ways to boost cooperation in the spheres of Agriculture and Food processing, and bioeconomy, Energy & Energy efficiency , IT & Engineering, Infrastructure and logistics. The participants of the forum have unanimously urged the whole of the Netherlands to vote YES, #StemVoor on the referendum on April 6th.
The three takeaways from the Forum:
Dutch government is pro business and pro democracy
There were around 50 Dutch companies which came to support the cooperation with Ukraine. Most of the companies already have established business relationship with Ukraine in the spheres of agriculture, food processing and IT among others. Some businessmen came wearing Ukraine’s national colors of blue and yellow.
I was expecting that there will be a lot of bad stories about the corruption etc, but to my positive amazement, most of the comments were around the inadequate financing of the Dutch export and the 26% costs of capital in Ukraine. Right there, well known Dutch businessmen Han Bartelds, VP of Rabobank International and Herman Vermeer of Plus for Progress in Agriculture, have made proposals to the Dutch authorities on the changes that they should make to improve the trade financing between our countries.
While the Dutch Minister for Agriculture powerful closing speech, specifically emphasized the importance of #stemvoor (vote yes) in the Association Agreement referendum on the 6th of April.
“..hope that the wider Dutch population will support the people of Ukraine. Because next week, the Dutch vote on the association agreement. This vote is about many things and one of them is freedom. Something the Dutch feel passionate about. “ – Martijn van Dam, Minister for Agriculture
Approachable style and immaculate presentations of Ukrainian government officials
During the summit Ukrainian delegation was easy to approach, spoke good English and had some time for the photos. The emphasis of our delegation was that Ukraine open for business, regulation and corruption are the thing of the past. For me it was a pleasure to meet Oleksandr Senkevych – the Mayor of Mykolaiv, a former IT entrepreneur who won a highly contested election against a local oligarch.
Smart people and agriculture are our greatest assets
The forum emphasised the importance of agriculture and technologies. These two sectors are growing rapidly despite the economy slow down. This gave me reassurance that the precision agriculture technologies that eFarmer is developing will find the market in new Ukraine in the near future. eFarmer B.V. is the embodiment of Dutch-Ukrainian cooperation, as our startup was selected to participate at the European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre in Noordwijk, and we have received financing from the Dutch government to kick start our idea.