PDMA Central America and PDMA Netherlands teamed up to support a business development trip for 11 Costa Rican small and medium enterprises to travel to Europe.
The Association Agreement between the Central American Region and the European Union supports economic development through the growth of exports and export quality, among other initiatives. The Procalidad Project*, financed by the European Union and the government of Costa Rica, aims to develop projects that strengthen public policies and infrastructure to develop the quality of exports by Costa Rican small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
In order to support exports from Costa Rica, a business development trip was organized for 11 different SMEs. These companies represented a broad array of goods and services, like gluten-free products, organic fruit concentrate, gourmet products, ecological cleaning products and leather goods. Consisting of visits to organizations in the Netherlands and Austria, the trip aimed to spark new business ideas, provide examples of interesting business models and products, and incite general knowledge in regard to exporting to the EU.
At the request of the PDMA Central America affiliate, the PDMA Netherlands affiliate organized a meeting in product development at the Bridge in Amersfoort. The program consisted of two presentations: PDMA Board Member Gert Staal presented about the activities of PDMA in the Netherlands and Europe, and Raoul Rossou, a representative of Syntens (the government agency dedicated to SME innovation) conducted a presentation on good innovation practices.
The workshop at this meeting was a good example of PDMA in Action. How can PDMA members promote business development and innovation? Each of the SME representatives gave an elevator pitch on the company and its activities and products. The Dutch participants then discussed product opportunities with the Costa Rican team, “do’s” and “don’ts” and possible partners for the Costa Rican companies. The following are two illustrations of subjects that were covered:
First, the group focused on business development for the organization Vinos Don Julian. They discussed business opportunities for the heady fruit wines of Vinos Don Julian, like the black berry wine that contains18 percent alcohol. Classical grape wine countries like France, Italy and Germany are probably less interesting markets than the markets in which fruit-based wines are a familiar product. The UK, with its elderberry wine tradition, might be a better fit, especially with the rising appreciation for biological products, a niche the Don Julian wines fill.
Second, the group discussed business development strategies for the company Florex, which manufactures eco-friendly cleaning products for household use and professional cleaning. Florex products are highly biodegradable, non-toxic and packaged in recyclable packaging. The PDMA.NL organized the meeting “Tackling Eco-dilemmas,” which was also attended by the leading European eco-cleaning company, Ecover. Developing a relationship with Ecover, the leader of eco-developments for the past 30 years, created a connection that could lead to the exploration of a future partnership.
The talks and the workshop prepared by the PDMA.NL affiliate were highly valued by the entrepreneurs, and the group was motivated to become part of the PDMA Central America affiliate. Interaction between affiliates can have substantial impact. In this case, the (potential) members of one affiliate, Central America, had access to the business network of another affiliate, the Netherlands, which gave the Costa Ricans new leads and opportunities to develop their networks. We hope to program similar activities in the future, promoting the development of PDMA affiliates and generate mutual benefits for the international organizations.
We would like to make an appeal to other affiliates and chapters to add PDMA in Action to their palette of activities and services. For someone attempting to set up something new or collect ideas and information, a local guide could be of great value. The local PDMA business network can be such a guide.
Veronica Medina Orellana Jeroen de Kempenaer PDMA Central Americas PDMA Netherlands
*More on the Procalidad Project. Institutions that participate in the National Quality System include the Costa Rican Metrology Laboratory (LACOMET) www.lacomet.go.cr; Costa Rica Institute of Technical Standards (INTECO) www.inteco.or.cr; Costa Rican Accreditation Organization (ECA) www.eca.or.cr; The Directorate of Technical Regulation of Ministry of Economics; and the Directorate General of Small and Medium Enterprise of Ministry of Economics www.meic.go.cr (MEIC). This project is part of an effort to support the Central American region in the framework of the Association Agreement signed by the region and the European Union. The lessons learned from the project will be used in the future to develop regional projects that promote quality in the SME and National Quality Systems.