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The innovative initiative, Cocreate2Accelerate was created to foster better relations between Dutch and SA entrepreneurs. It was born from the minds of Consul General Bonnie Horbach and Dutch entrepreneur Kevin Weijers.
The challenge set forth for Cocreate2Accelerate was to successfully address the issues five SA businesses had: Retro Epic, Sea Monster, Polymorph, &Innovation and Green Fingers Mobile were the selected businesses to be partnered with respective entrepreneurs.
Eligible companies had to be four to ten years old, facing challenges accelerating or expanding their businesses, while eligible dutch entrepreneurs had to have a keen understanding of the journey of an entrepreneur and be in a unique position to assist the chosen companies with their challenges.
A lot of thought went into matching the SA businesses to their Dutch mentors. Esther Jacobs, an international speaker and author, and successful entrepreneur Kevin Weijers, were matched to Retro Epic and &Innovation, “because of their ability to think outside of institutions and because of a match in work and world views,” said consul general, of the Kingdom of the Netherlands , Bonnie Horbach in an email Q&A with Ventureburn.
“Anke Kuipers was matched to Sea Monster because of experience in setting up her own gaming company as well as her success in crowdfunding. Jabbo Smulders was matched to Polymorph to be part of creative workshops and Jann Henk Bouman was matched to Green Fingers Mobile to create a pitchdeck and has created a Permanent Beta event in Holland for them to speak with Dutch entrepreneurs,” added Horbach.
There’s more to it than just the success of the companies mentioned above; the relationship between two nations has grown stronger because of it. “As the Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, we have a mandate to ensure, assist and grow the relationship between SA and Holland,” concluded Horbach.
From this mandate, even more projects have sprung such as Department of Design which happened during the World Design Capital in 2014, Garden of the Future in 2015, and Mobility Indaba which takes place from 6-10 October this year.
“Cocreate2Accelerate falls within our desire to build strong and lasting business ties between SA and Holland, as well as support the companies here,” said Horbach.
The companies which took part in the challenge were left better off for the experiences they’ve made. “Niki Boshoff has taken the helm at Retro Epic and Esther Jacobs taught everyone new skills relating to workflow and process,” said Horbach. “Green Fingers Mobile has partnered with Permanent Beta and will be presenting an event in Holland entitled ‘Future of Technology in Rural Agriculture’ on the 14 September. &Innovation is publishing The Culture Canvas in English and Dutch to help companies ensure their company culture is grows and keeps healthy,” continued Horbach.
“It has been amazing to witness what has been created in ten short days,” said Horbach with regards to Cocreate2Accelerate.
“Sea Monster has not only a pitch deck but an ecosystem to assist with funding, sales and distribution. Polymorph has set-up Maker-In-Residence, set up a relationship with Permanent Beta and is working with T-Mobile in Holland on an IoT project,” Horbach concluded.
With the early success Cocreate2Accelerate has achieved, plans for expansion are inevitable as they plan to host another Cocreate2Accelerate project next year hopefully getting support and interest from other foreign officers. This is only but one initiative in the country that demonstrates the collaborative power of a global entrepreneurial community. Hopefully, there will be many more opportunities for SA talent to expand the reputation of the country.
Update: The quotes were erroneously attributed to Micheline Frantz, this has since been changed to the correct person.
Featured image: David Evers via Flickr