Netherlands Minister explores Cape Town startup scene
Cape Town, 24 April 2017 – Bert
Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands was welcomed and received by Consul General Bonnie Horbach on 12 April 2017 in Cape Town as part of his official visit to South Africa. The Minister explored Cape Town’s start-up scene at the Woodstock Exchange and met with local and Dutch business owners. Lars Veul and Derk Hoekert the co-founders of Pargo, South Africa’s leading high tech logistics and fulfilment company, were invited to a lunch and roundtable discussion with the Minister and Consul General.
The Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Cape Town aims to actively promote inclusive economic growth and support Dutch businesses by strengthening entrepreneurship and cross sectoral cooperation in South Africa. This is most evident through its #cocreateSA campaign, which is based on the belief that sustainable solutions can be co-created by working together.
As part of the #cocreateSA campaign, the TenaCiTi programme, was initiated by the Consulate General in collaboration with the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), in response to feedback received from Dutch business owners in Cape Town. The programme aims to equip junior staff of small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups with the necessary soft skills to enter into the work space after completing their studies.
One of the companies participating in the TenaCiTi programme is the logistics solutions provider Pargo. The Dutch co-founders and directors at Pargo, Lars Veul and Derk Hoekert, stated, “After arriving in South Africa in 2012 we recognized the big opportunity to start Pargo and disrupt the logistics industry. There was a digital shift happening, with a fast growing e-commerce landscape, increase in mobile penetration and improved payment possibilities through fin-tech start-ups. The missing link was a convenient logistics solution, which we launched in 2015. The last two years have proven that we are on the right track. We have grown the pick-up network to over 1000 stores and thousands of South Africans are using our service every day.”
The Minister was joined at the TenaCiti Lab by TenaCiTi participants and Dutch business owners for a roundtable conversation. Facilitated by Mignon Keyser, strategic facilitator to the programme, the discussions touched on why Dutch entrepreneurs are attracted to Cape Town’s start-up scene and the subsequent challenges they experienced; as well as the experience of junior recruits and business owners participating in the TenaCiTi programme.
Minister Koenders showed significant interest in the “attractions of Cape Town as a business destination” and was “impressed with how the Dutch entrepreneurs were facing their challenges in the local market.” He was interested to hear their stories and congratulated them on their “courageous journey so far”. He was encouraged by “the Consulate’s collaborations were true to the vision of co-creating sustainable solutions in South Africa.”