Established in 2002, the Netherlands-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce in Budapest (Dutcham) aims to facilitate the exchange of professional expertise and provide networking possibilities for Dutch companies operating in Hungary and also for those who wish to build a valuable business network within the Dutch business community.
Dutcham’s goal is to bring together companies with Dutch interests operating in Hungary and provide a forum for networking and exchanging professional experience. As for the message Dutcham conveys to its members and the business community in Hungary, the organization’s Chairman Lóránt Kibédi Varga tells Diplomacy&Trade that their mission is to provide a platform for Dutch and Hungarian companies to build a valuable network that enables them to grow and prosper. “This year, we started using a new tagline that characterizes well what we stand for: ‘Building genuine connections for more successful businesses. We truly believe that we should provide opportunities for Dutcham members to build valuable networks, build business relationships. By creating tighter bonds among the managers in various ways, doing business would be a natural outcome in the long run. At Dutcham, we believe in the quality and not quantity of the contacts and aim to provide visibility for our members via sharing their news, business reports, offers via our online marketing channels and also promote their events. Some of our members are actively organizing events in their areas of expertise and providing fellow members access to these contents is bringing added value for the members.”
Lóránt Kibédi Varga was elected Chairman of Dutcham six years ago and has been a member of the board since 2004. Looking back on the close to two-decade history of the organization, he says “it has been a great honor for me to work for the Dutcham business community over the past years with an inspiring board of directors who dedicate their time and energy to continuously develop the organization. We are proud to have the largest Dutch companies present in Hungary among our members and there are also companies with international background, having a Dutch local manager, who would like to belong to the Dutch community in Hungary. In the recent past, our membership base expanded with Hungarian companies as well, mainly due to our open attitude and the unique network we can offer. We may not be the biggest chamber in terms of membership base or lobby power, but we offer an interesting and varied agenda and support building an informal network among the members. Personally, I consider it a great achievement that despite the pandemic we have kept close contact with our members and shared valuable ideas in difficult times.
Online and in open air
Health restriction circumstances resulting from the pandemic forced to change the work of the chamber, posing several challenges. As the chairman highlights, the pandemic had a significant effect on their activities, since all planned business events had to be organized online. “We did not have any previous experience in organizing webinars and also did not know how our members would welcome the online solutions. Despite the fact that the national lockdown made us put our activities in the virtual space overnight, thanks to our proactive members who were also ready to provide content in a new way, we could continue to keep things going during 2020 and 2021. The topics varied from social selling through emotional intelligence to electric driving, just to name a few. When it was possible, we organized opportunities for personal gatherings in the open air, either to gain practice together on the golf course or discuss the HR challenges of home office and the safe return to the workplace.”
Support for children with special needs
Besides the business activities, Dutcham also put emphasis on the importance of charity. The Netherlands-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce in Budapest has been supporting the St. Miklós Primary School, EGYMI (Unified Institute for Special Pedagogical Methodology) College and Children's Home in Budapest for more than 15 years now. The institution educates children with special educational needs (learning disabilities and integrated trainable mentally handicapped and autistic) in school grades 1-8, while children above this age attend 3rd party institutions for secondary studies. Dutcham – in a joint effort with its members – supported the school with protection masks, gloves, hand & surface sanitizers moreover computers to support the digital schooling of the kids in this challenging period.
The Dutcham Chairman stresses that the chamber’s greatest supporter has been the Royal Netherlands Embassy, “we have established a great partnership with the team throughout the years. We proactively promote their activities let it be business matchmaking or a sustainability conference and we also team up for joint events.”
Dutcham has most recently organized two events with the Embassy in partnership with the Belgian Embassy in Hungary and BELGABIZ: one on the investment and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a second one on Green Financing and the funds available in the form of grants and loans in the next European budgetary period between 2021-27.
“We also have an active contact with the Embassy of Hungary in the Hague who are ready to support Hungarian companies regarding various business issues in The Netherlands. Since the chamber’s operation is focused on Hungary, this partnership is highly valued and appreciated.
The joint activities and cross-promotion of each-others programs are tangible benefits of the great working relationship with several bilateral chambers of commerce that we have built over the years. As of 2021, we also partnered up with the Executives’ Association to expand our business network in a new direction,” he adds.
Regarding plans for this year, Lóránt Kibédi Varga points out that after the lock down and home office period, they are very much looking forward to the in-person events. “Hopefully, we can organize networking events in the summer months and pick up business topics during the autumn season. There is always something interesting to discuss in digital business transformation, legislative changes or people management. With numerous companies from different sectors, we have a great amount of know-how to build on, exchange knowledge and best practices in the given subject.”
Naturally, Dutcham’s aim is to continuously expand its network so, he concludes by calling out to the readers of Diplomacy&Trade: “if you happen to know someone whom you think could benefit from joining Dutcham, please, let us know!”
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