In recognition of the increasing importance of emerging economies for Dutch business, the NL Business Hub will actively represent and promote Dutch-Kenya/East Africa business interests. The NL Hub will act as a bridgehead and focal point for Dutch companies from all sectors wanting to become or being already active in Kenya/East Africa, and for Kenyan/East African companies wanting to do business with Dutch companies or in the Netherlands. The NL Hub will be a catalyser for the often slumbering plans of companies, a stepping-stone for companies taking their first steps in East Africa and an accelerator for those already active in Kenya or East Africa.
Netherlands’ development cooperation is moving from aid to trade. It promotes private investment in target countries by instruments such as public private partnership facilities for water, food and entrepreneurship, the ‘Developmentally Relevant Infrastructure Investment Vehicle’, and by the ‘Dutch Good Growth Fund’. The Netherlands Business Hub provides an important instrument to position Dutch SME in East-Africa. This is important as Dutch SME, their sector organisations as well as the network of Netherlands embassies often lack the capacity, means, knowledge and mandate to structurally explore and unlock the business potential of markets in Africa. This concerns for instance, but not exclusively, the water sector. The Netherlands ‘Kernteam Export en Promotie’ of the Topsector Water is asking for ‘an adequate tool that identifies opportunities on markets worldwide’.
This is confirmed by NABC which, based on sessions with some 50 NABC members early 2013, notes that entrepreneurs are more and more finding their way to the African continent however, that Dutch companies and especially SMEs, experience difficulties when exploring the African market. They indicate that local services, ‘on the ground in Africa’, regarding representation, lead development and coordination of business development activities, are required, in line with the products and services proposed by the NL Business Hub. Also members of NABC and NWP would benefit tremendously from a permanent NL Business Hub in Africa. VNO-NCW, MKB-Nederland and LTO Nederland conclude in 2012 that ‘The Netherlands is insufficiently connected to emerging markets outside of Europe’.
The NL Hub will be relevant to mainstream Dutch development cooperation into mutually beneficial economic relations, to stimulate investment and local socio-economic development, to support knowledge exchange and to support an enabling environment for doing business, including corporate social responsibility (iCSR). The NL Business Hub will build on strategic alliances that arose from development cooperation initiatives and will forge new alliances to create ‘shared value’.
The mission of the Netherlands Business Hub for East Africa, based in Nairobi, is to promote, support and service Dutch business and economic interests in East Africa and to contribute to strong relations with countries of the East African Community (EAC), Ethiopia and South Sudan.
The ambition of the NL Business Hub is to serve its subscribers and clients – that seek doing business in target countries stated in the mission – effectively and efficiently, resulting in expanded business between the Netherlands and target countries. Assuming that the goal of subscribers and clients is to expand their business; a successful NL Hub will logically lead to increased trade and closer relations. Overall, Netherlands’ business will be closer and better connected to East Africa, including through sector organisations.