Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

AUAS and Fachhochschule Dortmund students make SME export plans

26 Jun 2014 09:00 | Communication

Some 300 Commercial Economics students from the AUAS and Fachhochschule Dortmund have drawn up export plans for Dutch and German SMEs. The AUAS students and their German counterparts presented their detailed ideas for SMEs and the Chamber of Commerce on 13 July. Six winners were selected to carry out their plans in an internship. “Small SMEs often do not have the opportunity to explore their export options, so the students provide a solution here.”

It is difficult for the average SME to explore export options beforehand, explains AUAS project manager Arthur Pereboom. “They have a limited budget, and the information provided by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency is not sector specific.” The group of students from Germany and the Netherlands are filling this void. The Chamber of Commerce wants to increase the number of SMEs that export and is therefore supporting the project. A large proportion of the potential remains untapped: “Currently only 30% of the SMEs from Amsterdam are exporting, a figure that could be doubled.”


The students started working for three SMEs in Dortmund and three in Amsterdam. On Friday, 13 July, 47 teams presented their plans, from which the jury of companies and the Chamber of Commerce selected the winners. One notable case was that of a fashion company that focuses on children in the Netherlands. The students conceived the plan of tapping a new market: the grey potential in Nordrhein-Westfalen where affluent elderly people form the majority. “This was a real eye-opener for the company – in 20 years they had never thought of this.”

No field trip

The project, which lasted several weeks, was certainly no field trip, emphasises Pereboom: “They really get stuck in – researching the market and the do’s and don’ts of international business, talking with prospective customers in practice. And the company judges them critically.”

The Chamber of Commerce has already stated that this is an excellent initiative, says Pereboom. The project has been running for some time now, and the effects are visible: “The students have previously helped companies like Miss Green. We see tremendous results – these companies are now effortlessly generating 60,000 to 100,000 euros more in turnover.” The Commercial Economics programme and the Chamber of Commerce are currently in talks to expand the project from Dortmund and Amsterdam to Lyon and Milan.