The Dutch are entrepreneurial and like to do business across the border. The Dutch government helps SMEs with this. In this series, we follow Herco Hekking, an entrepreneur from Overijssel. Hekking plans to export dairy processing machines to Tanzania. Part 1: Seeing opportunities.
Ante BV has done everything it can to find out whether it is worth opening a service centre in Tanzania. Previous visits to the country produced positive results, and the company even set up circular exports. The next step was to implement an investment preparation project, which is a special kind of business plan.
The business plan had to demonstrate whether investment in a local branch in Tanzania would be feasible. At present, the company is involved in the circular economy: it buys good used machines in northern Europe and ships them to Tanzania. Here, 2 mechanics mend them for reuse. According to Herco Hekking, Ante’s director-general, they are “the best in the country”.
Dot on the horizon
This is not the first time that Ante BV has set up a branch abroad. The company is striving to set up branches in 15 developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America. Ante owns a 50% share of the branches and local partners own the remaining 50%. "Our customers are farmers, cooperatives, associations and NGOs who are happy to use our services and maintenance,” says Mr Hekking.
Seeing and seizing opportunities
If you are anyone in east Africa, then you own a farm, according to Ante. And there is plenty of fertile ground and sun to make crops grow. "Our customers are farmers and they want to reach people,” says Mr Hekking. The question is how. By turning to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, the company received a subsidy to start a DHI demonstration project in Tanzania.
The building where Ante carried out its pilot project had electricity, water, tiles and large refrigerators. Mr Hekking says, "The main thing is that Dar es Salaam, a city with almost 5 million residents, is just across the street. In other words - customers. Containers with machines were placed in the building, so that potential customers could see that Ante’s machines have added value and are cost-effective. "It worked well. It became a hub where sales took place," Mr Hekking explains.
Risks disappear almost like snow in the sun
In the end, the investment project made it possible for Ante to take the decision to start a service centre in Tanzania. Mr Hekking concludes, "I expect that the risk of buying a building will be too great and that we will be better off renting a piece of land. Luckily, the results of this project will not affect our existing activities in Tanzania."
Would you like to know more?
Read more about this project in part 2: Preparing for investment with a subsidy.