Hup Holland Hup!!

Trip Start Jun 25, 2010
Trip End Jul 13, 2010

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Where I stayed
Landgoed De Horst

Flag of Netherlands  , Utrecht,
Friday, July 2, 2010

Hup Holland Hup!!

What a day it was! Holland won FIFA quarterfinal match against Brazil! Great shock to Brazilians and sweet surprise to Dutch! We were all optimistic considering strength & brand name of Brazil and hoping for an exciting match. You never know what happens in football, cricket and Bollywood movies! Indeed, it was exciting and fun-filled. Holland team proved its worth and played extremely confident, especially during second half.

Dutch are extremely good at organizing events and they always look for reasons to celebrate. We all enjoyed the match on a big screen with orange-clad crazy crowd. I can't precisely describe the excitement after Holland winning this big match. SPEW buddies from all the countries (including Latin Americans) cheered Dutch team (I know, Carola & Sindi from Larin America were quite disappointed as they were 'internally’ cheering Brazil). We all wore orange dresses and shouted Hup Holland Hup!

I am writing this blog after 3 days. Last 2 days were absolutely inspiring for me & other buddies. On 1st July 2010, I went to meet a microfinance fund management organization in Amsterdam as a part of my sector visit program. Meeting went off well and soon there will be some action. As Nirantara is in the process of transformation to a regulated company (from NGO-Microfinance Society), we have started mobilization of equity from like-minded investors. However, majority owners of our company would be our own borrowers. This trip was great in-terms of building network with like-minded strategic partners.

Great time at Exact

We went to this wonderful organization for ‘business speed-dating’. We met Dutch entrepreneurs & potential business partners. The goal was to gain knowledge and inspiration. Exact, a NYSE & Dutch listed company, develops financial software for small & medium enterprises. Exact is one of largest IT companies in Europe having base in other continents as well.

Their CSR unit, Exact Foundation, aims at facilitation of economic growth by sharing their entrepreneurial knowledge and experience with starting entrepreneurs world-wide. The company has recently moved to their new building located at Delft. This is an amazing architecture as it reflects culture of the company. They have an open & transparent culture. For that reason, the building has lot of space for natural sunlight. The striking point is that there are no cubicles like other IT companies. There is a relaxed work environment as team members can work anywhere within the office. The board room / executive area has no barriers. Coffee/drinks area is also a place of work. The company has a well equipped gymnasium and entertainment area apart from other key facilities. This is an award winning Green Building.

Inspiration from Exact Foundation & Mr. Raj Patel

As we entered Exact building at 2pm, we came to know about stepping-down of its CEO, Mr. Raj Patel. There was a formal announcement to public as Exact is a public company. It was a shock and surprise to team Exact. However, our program started as scheduled and Exact Foundation team presented their entrepreneurial initiative that will kick-off in couple of months. I see that the association of SharePeople & Exact Foundation will promote high level of entrepreneurship development across the world. We talked about our initiatives with Dutch entrepreneurs, clients of Exact, Exact top management & key team members of Exact & foundation. That’s how ‘speed-dating’ took place.

After that, we listened to highly inspirational speech by Mr. Raj Patel. His roots are from India and lived in Africa & Europe for several years. He is an influential person in Holland and Dutch community has very high level of respect for him. During his arousing speech, he talked about his journey from his roots, his entrepreneurial adventure, his current work and his future entrepreneurial adventure. He is an amazing personality with great leadership abilities. Exact has been consistently growing in his leadership and we could make out this by high level of motivation among team and effective work environment. He spoke about difference between and western & eastern world while sharing challenges being faced by developing countries. He also shared about his future plans, but in hazy, and he is yet to discover clearly what he is going to do from 1st August 2010. I got an opportunity to meet him personally and share about initiatives of Nirantara.

The wine & dine with Mr. Raj Patel, Exact team, managers & board members of Dutch companies helped us to our share experiences, connections and knowledge.

Truly an exciting day!

Last Day of SharePeople Experience Week

The last day is always a day with personal sharing. There was lot of action (among SharePeople, entrepreneurs & liaisons) pertaining to feedback & improvement. Lot of photo sessions & video interviews followed. There was flood of souvenirs to SharePeople team!

After an exciting football match between Holland & Brazil, Archana & I went to Utrecht to catch up celebration. Wow! Dutch people, they really party hard! We could see orange, orange and orange everywhere. As we were also clad in orange, people greeted us and shouted slogans, which we didn’t understand. We crossed thousands and thousand of people on streets with their friends and kids with drums and other musical instruments. Loud music all around and dance on the street created an atmosphere of a festival. I think, for Dutch, today is no less than a festival. We enjoyed as we crossed streets of Utrecht with the celebrating crowd. Maurice called me to share that there is going to be huge party in Rotterdam.

Gefeliciteerd Dutch! Hup Holland Hup!

When we returned to De Horst at 9pm, the celebration was in peak. Experience Week program was officially closed with music and dancing with entrepreneurs, ambassadors, SharePeople business partners and team SharePeople. Sam and Mandy were there at the party and we danced & discussed a lot (again) on Dutch culture and businesses. DJ guided Indian & continental music intoxicated the crowd more than any sort of drink. You never know what happens in this kind of excited crowd. I could see people, who never danced in their lifetime, shaking their legs on the dance floor! I was one among the dance-illiterates and enjoyed every bit of the moment. I had some lessons from Hazel, Sindy & Ilse.

The SPEW has created a very special impact on me. Apart from amazing learning, sharing & networking, I could experience how a developed country really works hard and party hard. I will write a special entry on my insights and reflections on this amazing program. Organization of this kind of action program is not that easy. Cosmas too admitted this. Marloes, Germaine, Ilse, Annick, Taco, Jeroen, Willemijn, Jonne, Mariska and Karin did this very professionally. I saw leadership of Cosmas. SharePeople Ambassadors too contributed to this. It was a wonderful team work.

Hats off to Team SharePeople!!
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