Last Friday, June 20th, Ellen Tacoma and I had the honor to speak on behalf of Women on Wings at “India Revitalized“, a symposium held at Nyenrode Business University in Breukelen. The symposium was organized by the Europe India Chamber of Commerce (EICC), Netherlands Chapter with the aim to inform on the latest investment opportunities in India against the backdrop of a newly elected Indian government.
Around 60 participants, including his Excellency mister Rajesh Prasad, ambassador of India to the Netherlands, were informed about business opportunities in India in general and Gujarat in specific. Expectations are high for foreign investment in India since the new Modi government is in charge. Economic growth and improving the infrastructure are the key issues of the new government.
Ellen presented Women on Wings to the audience. She explained our work and shared the success story with our business partner Fabric Plus. I had the opportunity to share my experiences of living and doing business in India. What does it mean to start a business in India and what are the hurdles you have to take. Everything in India takes time and time is plentiful in India. Yes, there is a lot of paperwork to do, but if you accept that and do it according the rules and properly, there will be no problem. Those who once have applied for a visa will agree. Finding the right partner for legal affairs and accounting/taxes is a pre-condition.
I also spoke about cultural differences, like the strong hierarchy, the importance of family, the male dominancy, the way of communication and the importance of building relationships and trust. And like the importance of today. Indians grab the moment to meet today or tomorrow. Try to get a meeting with a Director in the Netherlands. If you’re lucky, you’ll get appointment in two months from now.
And next to all of the above, never forget the 4 P’s for doing business in India:
Patience, Perseverance, Politeness, Personal contacts. But they are nothing without this 1 R: RESPECT!
At the end of the symposium, we spoke to many participants during the network diner. Some Indians came to us saying that they totally recognized themselves in some examples I had mentioned on cultural differences. They had enjoyed the mirror I had given them and they now understood that these differences are never a matter of good or wrong. It’s culture. As always there is no good or wrong, but the truth is somewhere in the middle. And that’s the strength of the concept of Women on Wings: fusing Western business knowledge with the Indian way of doing business results in growing businesses and more employment for women in rural India.
Ronald van het Hof