The second Business Beyond Borders (BBB) matchmaking event took place on 16-18 May 2017 at African Utility Week, South Africa. During three lively and prolific days, companies and clusters from all over the world flew to Cape Town to present their business and meet potential business partners in the water, power and waste industry.
As per usual, BBB sought to provide its participants with more than regular B2B meeting sessions and ensured the event at AUW – incidentally, the first fair within the BBB initiative to take place outside Europe – was as interactive and as relevant as possible to the interests of the enrolled companies. During the morning of Day 1, SMEs and clusters enrolled for BBB had the opportunity to attend AUW’s keynote opening speech, in which H.E. the Danish Ambassador to South Africa, Trine Thygesen, represented the voice of the EU and encourage participants to visit the BBB stand: “This project is providing additional support to companies and clusters. I am excited to see new business partnerships formed from this and I strongly urge you to learn more about the programme or visit the BBB project pavilion if you are already interested in a direct participation. Our doors are open for Africa” (check our previous blog post for all the highlights from Ambassador Thygesen’s speech). Other high-profile names included ESKOM’s Chairman Ben Ngubane and South African Minister Ben Dikobe Martins.
Still during AUW’s first day, BBB participants had the possibility of taking part in the BBB Demo Zone stage, in which they could present their business and services/technology to a large audience. The Demo Zone presentations were live streamed on the BBB Twitter account and can still be re-watched there.
The BBB matchmaking sessions took place over the course of three fair days, and brought entrepreneurs from several countries to the BBB Connecting Platform to meet potential business partners and expand their business abroad. In total, BBB gathered 1351 delegates representing 800 companies from 65 countries, which resulted in over 2700 matchmaking meetings booked. The feedback from participants was quite positive.
Representing FOLIAWATER, a South African SME specialising in water filtration which also presented its technology during the BBB Demo Zone, Mark Williams said the BBB matchmaking sessions were ideal to “meet like-minded people in the water business and find collaborators, investors and potential customers. I have had several meetings that went very well, and hopefully we will have some follow-up to do. I definitely recommend Business Beyond Borders to any SMEs seeking to internationalise their business”.
Likewise, Jonna Bock Leineweber, Project Director for the Danish company TECH-SOLUTIONS, considered the BBB initiative to be positive for her company: “When we agree to do business and export our products, I can help my country and company grow while the other side can help theirs. To be a part of this event makes for great synergies, and it is wonderful to see that new jobs can be created due to partnerships.”
On Day 3, a large crowd attended the EREF Hydropower Workshop. Co-organised by BBB, the European Renewable Energies Federation (EREF) and the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme, the workshop gave attendees an overview of the small hydropower sector in Africa, challenges and opportunities in funds for hydropower, business success stories and a discussion panel featuring project developers, financing institutions and NGOs. The workshop’s keynote addresses from EASME’s Advisor Silvi Serreqi and RECP’s Project Manager Alexander Huppertz are available on BBB’s Twitter account if you wish to re-watch them.
Coming from France, Andrea Ranzanici of MARGE, an engineering consultancy which also moderated the workshop on hydropower, considered BBB “a very useful platform to arrange meetings between the different participants and stakeholders. We had more than ten meetings in two days, which was great to exchange experiences and talk about future opportunities.”
Finally, AUW’s Day 3 saw the crowning of Finnish company FINNZA as BBB Social Media Competition’s first winner due to their interactive participation on Twitter. When accepting his prize, FINNZA’s representative Gregory Neethling thanked the BBB team for the overall experience: “I really benefited from being here and having all these business meetings, which can lead to very successful projects”.
The next BBB matchmaking event will take place in Paris during TEXWORLD, the leading trade fair for fashion, textiles and apparel – the registration period will be open soon, so be sure to enroll your SME or cluster for this unique opportunity! In the meantime, all the photos from the BBB matchmaking event at AUW are available on Flickr, and the next blog posts will bring you profiles and success stories from previous participants. Keep watching this space!
(Photo credits: Business Beyond Borders, 2017 [Flickr])