What is your vision for fCN International?
Like the organisation itself, we want to grow organically and create chapters in different places around the world: so far we have chapters in São Paulo and Shanghai. It takes time though because it’s imperative that I meet the right partners to realise this vision.
We also want to connect members from the different chapters to each other and organise trade missions for our members.
Tell us more about the trade missions
fCN has been organising trade missions with small groups since 2012. The idea is to connect participants of the trade mission with each other, and connect entrepreneurs with the country they’re visiting, as well as with fellow countrymen there. Usually it involves meeting consuls: matchmaking is at the highest level due to our exciting connections worldwide; the outstanding speakers and programme.
What makes these trade missions so unique for members?
Members can let us know what kind of people or companies they would like to meet and we will cater for that, individualising the trip as far as possible. It allows members to get a feel for the culture of doing business in a certain country and also helps them to create sustainable, long-lasting connections between the participants of that trade mission.
Your first trade mission was to Shanghai?
Yes, that’s correct. Just a few days after announcing it, it was fully-booked – and it proved to be a great success. New business opportunities were discovered and discussed; new contacts were made; and new business relationships forged.
What did members experience in Shanghai?
Upon arrival at the luxury Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund, we opened the trade mission with a ‘cocktail shaker show’ organised by Koninklijke de Kuyper. A French cocktail maestro – flown in for the occasion – gave us the scoop on the new ‘in’ flavour: elderflower. We lunched at Google Shanghai, thanks to one of our fCN members, and attended a seminar with speakers including the Netherlands Consulate General in Shanghai and the CEO of Maximum. And during the BenCham Gala Ball – with all the business leaders from China-Benelux present – former Dutch footballer Edwin van der Sar was awarded ‘Personality of the Year’. The Asia and Oceania Director of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs warmly welcomed us to his residence – a memory to cherish. And as a final flourish, the Chinese Consul General to the Netherlands invited all the participants of the delegation back in January.
You also organised a second trade mission to Beijing?
Yes, we went to Beijing as part of the China Business Holland Summit led by Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan and Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen. In Hong Kong, fCN members were received by the Consul General of the Netherlands. And in Shenzen and Shanghai, members were given the opportunity to visit the Huawei Enterprise Business. As well as fascinating roundtables and seminars, another highlight was a performance by the Dutch National Ballet that we attended with our fellow business relations. In fact, the programme was a perfect mix of business, cultural and informal events and our members benefited greatly from this opportunity to get their foot in the door of the Chinese market. They all left with a real insight and understanding of doing business in Asia and concrete business deals.
You are planning another trade mission in 2015. This time to America.
Yes, our third trade mission is to New York and Boston in May; again with a special angle. We’ll attend the Entrepreneurial Leadership Summit at Harvard, where our participants will obtain a ‘Baron or Entrepreneurship’ certificate signed by three professors. They are marketing guru John Davis; Fred van Eenennaam, an expert on corporate governance & strategy; and Rodria Laline who has been CEO of global research and development collaborations with IBM, ING, and Philips, to name but a few, and currently works as a professional board advisor in global corporate, economic and technology governance. However, the best part of this trip isn’t Harvard, the matchmaking afterwards nor even the visit to the consulate and meeting the consul general. It’s the seminar with speakers – some of whom are flying in from around the world. This year’s event includes Roelfien Kuijpers, Managing Director (in New York) and Global Head at Deutsche Bank Asset & Wealth Management; Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Co-Founder and Strategic Advisor of Gilt; and Ken Segall, author, speaker, blogger and formerly Creative Director at TBWA/Chiat/Day, Apple’s longtime ad agency. He was the man who worked alongside Steve Jobs and advised him on how to name Apple brands including the first versions of the iPhone and iPad. This seminar will be streamed live to the Netherlands so all fCN members are able to enjoy it.
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