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Trip Conclusions

January 19th, 2013 · Uncategorized

Time to draw the conclusions for this trip to Bolivia and Ecuador.


Tarija Bolivia: Strategic Conference on the exports of Wine

Despite our late arrival, very successful. A cooperative spirit made everyone focus to take an important step towards the establishment of a generic body “Wines of Bolivia” that takes responsibility of providing the much-needed export-related services to all members that have a stake in Bolivia. In addition, a roadmap was agreed upon for the Wines of Bolivia platform and a working group agreed to further develop the essence of the platform, as well as the organisation- and budget structure. A next conference in April will be decisive on how this body will become operational.

All wine actors in Bolivia


Santa Cruz Bolivia: CBI Progress meeting with CADEX (Chamber of Exporters)

Long strenuous, yet good talks about different topics that are CBI related; development of a business strategy for new sector approach for CADEX, strategic plans for a training facility (CEFEX), Export Coaching and Business Development programmes in the Bolivian timber sector,  CADEX potential role in the wine and tourism sector all were discussed and actions were formulated. It was good to tune in with Cadex on these matters.

CADEX meeting

Quito, Ecuador: Acquaintance meeting with Universidad de Las Américas

Ecuador being an exit country for CBI, the UDLA requested the possibility to purchase a CBI training on EU Trade and supply management. I warmly made acquaintance with the university, the international business course coordinator and the Dean of the faculty. A draft of the programme was designed, included some innovative manners of testing and reporting by students that will be attending this training and of course budgets and the training logistics were fine-tuned. After that I was treated with a fantastic lunch, prepared by UDLA students, aspiring to become chefs. In a restaurant-style classroom we were served , a 7-course typical Ecuadorian cuisine, prepared in an avant-garde style. Don’t ask me what I ate, but surely it was the best meal I had this trip.

Lunch at UDLA

A great conclusion of an intense week abroad, I suppose.


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Sex Sells

January 18th, 2013 · Uncategorized

Western Europeans have a different view on effective marketing when compared to Latin Americans, I suppose.

This week, together with CBI experts, I conducted a strategic conference on the exports of Bolivian wines in Tarija, a small city in the south of Bolivia, close to the Argentinian border. Tarija is considered to be the wine capital of Bolivia. Not strange then to come across lots of advertisements of the Bolivian bodegas, trying to attract attention to sell their premium wines.

Want to cheers me?

However, billboards of these wines predominantly contain gorgeous , scantily clad showgirls, looking you in the eyes passionately, as if they just want one thing from you:  a cheers on a fruitful, yet well-balanced premium red wine!

“Sex sells”, claims the famous and undeniable true dictum. But does that count for the product of wine too? Definitely not in Europe, I would say.

Olala, here's a great wine...

However, research has shown that sex in advertising is used for more than just attracting attention.  A common theme is the “Buy this, get this” formula. Meaning that if you buy a certain product based on a campaign that contains a lot of skin, so to say, you would: 1) be more sexually attractive because you identify yourself with the depicted person in the advertising, 2) have more or better sex as a result of that, or, 3) just feel sexier for your own sake.

…Admittedly, and based on experience after consuming this product , I cannot but conclude that this is indeed true.  (not going into detail here… sorry)

So therefore from now on I am pleading for total show of skin, hot looking women and arousing content on all billboards in Holland! Whether it is for cars, garden furniture, coffee, dog food,  wheelchairs, dishwashing detergent, or wine, it simply makes the world a little bit,… uhm.. sexier…


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The downside of travelling

January 14th, 2013 · Uncategorized

Everything went according to plan that Sunday in Bolivia. It was a day before the start of another roundtable on Export for the wine sector in Tarija. Some good preparation sessions with the CBI wine expert Cees van Casteren and conference facilitator Jan Willem Richelmann at our hotel, a late check out for free, a spacious and air-conditioned taxi to the airport, a smooth check in with granted seats at the emergency exit. Things couldn’t go more smoothly. We thought…

Until the aircraft took off on its way from Santa Cruz de la Sierra to the city of Tarija. After ten minutes of odd circling above the airport of departure, the captain announced the due to heavy rainfall in Tarija it was impossible to land the aircraft there, and as a result we had to return to Santa Cruz. We all had to disembark from the plane and the long wait at the gate commenced. Obviously no one of the airline was present to provide information. And we basically sat there for almost 4 hours, unknowingly what would happen.

Waiting at the gate

Finally, an hour later, at 11 pm, they cancelled the flight, and announced further that the next day there would be an extra flight to Tarija, probably between 8-10 am. The conference was scheduled to start at 09.00 h. We all had to leave our phone numbers and the Airline promised to call us in the morning to announce the exact time of departure. (yeah right)

We managed to book a hotel room and better safe than sorry we simply agreed to be at the airport at 7 am anyway. Counting on an Bolivian airline to give all passengers a ring about a time of departure of an extra flight didn’t seem to be a good idea.

At 7 in the morning another long wait started, without any information on that extra flight. There was a scheduled flight to Tarija at 08.00 h, but that was not hours and it was a fully booked anyway. Hoping that after checking everyone in there would still be 4 seats left from people not showing up, we actually managed to arrange seats on that plane, so we were ready to go. We thought…

Checking in

Removing us from an unknown extra flight onto a fully booked flight that was already boarding seemed that have its administrative challenges. And while printing the tickets (it was only 2 minutes before closing the gate) the ink cartridge seemed to have died, and needed to be changed. But when we finally got the tickets we ran towards the security belts before the gates to try to make it to the aircraft in time. Bad luck again! Security stopped us and said that the gate just closed. And through the windows we actually saw our plane moving backwards to start taxiing. Bummer!

Bummer: Renee, Jan-Willem, Cees

No we were challenged in changing our tickets from a fully booked scheduled flight that we missed towards the extra flight that we were supposed to have and of which it meanwhile was announced to go at 1.40 pm.  After long talks (thanks Mariana) we managed to do this. So plenty of time to write this blog.

All in all from the last 24 hours, we spent 13 hours waiting at an airport. Which make some people a bit crazy.  As you can see in the picture below.

Cees high on exotic fruit on santa Cruz Airport

Day 1 of the conference is as good as lost, but we now count on being on this extra flight, scheduled this afternoon. So we can do at least 1 do of the conference tomorrow and perhaps even a small part of day 1 today. We think…

Never a dull moment!


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Meeting the Dutch Enclave in Santa Cruz in one Day

October 30th, 2012 · Uncategorized

After a smooth trip from Tarija back to St. Cruz,  I had a late-night preparation session with two CBI experts. This was because the following Sunday morning, a breakfast meeting with the Bolivian Steering group on the proceedings of the project ITBU was planned. Work goes on in weekends. The project has more or less come to a halt, because the objective of obtaining a license to operate a university has not been granted by the Bolivian Ministry of Education. And information about possible chances of short term success in this process proved to be very absent. Alternative scenarios of continuation were discussed in a very constructive manner.

On Monday, I was briefed by another CBI expert, Marco Bijl, this one in the field of timber and timber products. We are quite successfully running a timber programme in Bolivia too. Later today we talked the upcoming events and activities in this programme with CADEX staff.

Timber meeting at CADEX

Apart from these CBI experts, there are more Ducthies in town, and in fact working in the CADEX building. One project manager, Bas Scholten, is staffed here in St. Cruz by the Rotterdam Business School (RBS), and on top of that there are three RBS students doing an internship in the context of the ITBU project. We had a ‘gezellige’  lunch altogether.

Lunch with Dutchies at CADEX

I finished off the day programme at 19.00 h with a flash visit to CAINCO, the largest Chamber of Commerce in Bolivia. A good meeting with Jorge Suribana and Julio Silva. It’s good to keep good contact with this organisation.

Meeting at CAINCO

Then of course, a meeting with the Netherlands Honorary Consul, who is based in Santa Cruz, was in the scheduled in the evening. Mr. Ludo Ham has become a good friend after the my visits to Santa Cruz the past years.

Late dinner

It has been a bit of a long meeting marathon. But is is always worth a lot to meet and share the latest with key players in the Bolivian network. Oddly enough these seemed to be mostly of Dutch origin this day.

For tomorrow, traveling is scheduled. Flying back to Holland. Time to go home!




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A Photo Documentary of a Bolivian Vineyard Visit

October 28th, 2012 · Uncategorized

These are some pictures of a Saturday well-spent. One of the Bodegas that attended the conference invited us to taste their wines and assess their possibilities for exports. The name of the Winery is Bodega Sausini. They proved to have an excellent product, for which our CBI experts were convinced that these would find a way on the Dutch and/or UK market. The problem was that this bodega has no experience in marketing, let alone, in export marketing. Hence, the enormous stock of premium wines in their cellar.

Apart from that we were welcomed by father and daughter and had an excellent and idyllic lunch under a huge oak tree, with superb views of the valley of Tarija. The self-prepared lunch consisted of superb dishes with Bolivian products/ingredients only, and this reach gastronomic levels. And with tasting different wines and Singanis, this was truly a Saturday never to forget! Thank you Carla!

Bolivia has so much to offer!

Bodega Sausini, Bolivia

Bodega Sausini, Bolivia

Bodega Sausini, Bolivia

Bodega Sausini, Bolivia

Bodega Sausini, Bolivia

Bodega Sausini, Bolivia

Bodega Sausini, Bolivia


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A Well-deserved Beer after a Great Conference on Wine

October 27th, 2012 · Uncategorized

Day 2 of the conference turned out to be a success as well. This all started with the almost the exact number of attendants of day 1 showing up the second day.CBI Strategic Conference on Bolivian Wine Exports 2012

After a quick recapture of what we presented and worked on yesterday, we divided the attendants into 3 groups, each one moderated by one of our experts. The objective of these groups were to come up with solutions, priorities, actions, actors and planning for each of the export value chain constraints: lack of export knowledge and marketing, lack of coherent institutional support, and supply-related issues. The results were later to be presented to the rest of the group.

CBI Strategic Conference on Bolivian Wine Exports 2012

Outstanding work was done, and the interesting thing was that there seemed to be an open attitude towards each other and willingness to share information. All participants realized that cooperation and a joint approach towards supply, production and exports could in fact bring bigger benefits to the whole sector.

This realization formed the basis of collectively defined action plan that was legitimized in a Memorandum of Understanding. Commitment to cooperate in the tackling the sector constraints  was evident. The MoU was enthusiastically signed by all.

CBI Strategic Conference on Bolivian Wine Exports 2012

The conference was concluded, how else, with some wine tasting and a good but very late lunch.

Click here if you want to find out about results, pics and presentations of the conference and the MoU that was signed.

That evening we had dinner with the Wine Conference team, and ‘cheersed’  on a well-deserved cool beer!!


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A Great Start of a Strategic Conference on Wine

October 26th, 2012 · Uncategorized

Yesterday (25 October), the Strategic Conference Exports of Bolivian Wine started with the presence, of the Dutch Ambassador in Bolivia, a representation of the Governor of Tarija, and with the attendance of the most important stakeholders of the entire Bolivian Wine sector.

CBI Conference on Wine Exports Bolivia 2012

At the first day of the conference, we presented and discussed the main bottlenecks for Wine Exports from Bolivia, but we also concluded on different success scenarios for export of wine, and the impact that it would have on the development of the sector.

The organization I work for, CBI, has over 40 years of experience in assisting developing economies in more than 50 countries in the world to improve exports to the European Union. We only work with small and medium exporting enterprises, since we strongly believe that these SME´s are the main job creators, and that exports by SME´s  strongly help economies to become more productive, efficient and self-sustainable.

CBI Conference on Wine Exports Bolivia 2012


In the Bolivian wine sector, over 5000 persons are directly or indirectly employed. Although most of the production is currently sold on the domestic markets, it is strongly felt that developing and promoting exports will have a highly positive multiplier effect on the sector, improving quality, quantities and thus directly helping the families who depend on this sector and also expanding the number of persons who can find a good job.

Research has shown that there is a clear niche for Bolivian quality wines in the European Markets. However, there are still a number of obstacles to be overcome in order to be really successful, such as quality issues; local supplies issues; wine qualities and quantities, cooperation and a collaborative approach towards exports and, highly important; export and marketing know-how within the sector.

CBI Conference on Wine Exports Bolivia 2012

On the second day of the conference we will work in multi-stakeholder groups on the possible resolutions of the aforementioned constraints, determining priorities, which specific actions should be taken, by whom, and when.

It is basically the first time that the Bolivian wine sector as a whole, comes together to make the first draft of a long-term strategy for the development of the Wine sector. And the possibility of Exports triggers this all.

I am curious what the result will be.



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Wine from Bolivia?

October 24th, 2012 · Uncategorized

The main purpose of visiting Bolivia this time is to attend the by CBI organised Strategic Conference on the Exports of Bolivian Wine. According to experts Bolivian wines are “one of the best kept secrets of the world”, but since I am NOT a wine connaisseur at all, I try to explain the reason why this has a market in a later blogpost. (…once I have followed the conference speakers closely, and of course, once I have tasted the gear myself 😉 )

The idea is that exports can generate positive impact in the complete value chain of the Bolivian wine sector: from supplier to grower to producer to exporter and, in the end, the export market itself. The Strategic Conference on Vinos de Altura is a unique conference in which we bring together all the major stakeholders of the Bolivian wine sector (including supporters and influencers) to discuss bottlenecks and opportunities of Export to the European Union.

CBI has developed a Value Chain Analysis for the Bolivian Wine Sector, and on the basis of this VCA we aim to let the conference:

  • Learn about the results of this study;
  • Validate the results by its actors;
  • Explore opportunities in export that benefits the sector and boost its development;
  • Identify bottlenecks, and how these could be tackled
  • Work on the outlines of sectorial export and development plan


More info about the conference, programme and participants on

P.s. I have my suitcase back! I am a happy man!


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Let the Aroma Combat Commence

October 23rd, 2012 · Uncategorized

This is my lottery ticket to an appropriate outfit.  Clean socks, knickers and a decent shirt.

Copa Airlines Baggage Report

Indeed, not the best start of my Bolivia journey. My suitcase is lost. Probably still in Panama City, where I made it to catch my connecting flight to Santa Cruz, but my suitcase didn’t.

The latest story is that the suitcase will be shipped by the evening flight from Panama to Santa Cruz, and that I can pick up my suitcase at 02.00 am at the airport.  A very comforting thought is that my next flight is on that same morning at 08.00 am, to Tarija.  Nobody really can tell, if my suitcase will be taken on board, so it will be a bit of a gamble to actually make the journey to the airport tonight. And should my suitcase not be there, I won’t have any suitcase for the duration of the conference in Tarija and the preparations thereof.

Not to worry,….. toothpaste, brush  and deo I have already bought.

And smelly socks will not be noticed at all, as long as I keep my shoes on!




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Cheers, Tarija!

March 30th, 2012 · Uncategorized

After a good night out on Saturday,  I moved from the humid heat of Santa Cruz to the pleasant moderate climate of Tarija, a small city in the south of Bolivia at approx. 1900m above sea-level.  Tarija contains also Bolivia’s best kept secret. “Vinos de Altura”: High Altitude Wines.

Breakfast session with Bolivian Wine Sector

Together with the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Bolivia (Chef de Poste), I visited the region to see the activities of development in the Bolivian wine sector run by projects of the NL Embassy, and of course to see if there is a potential of Bolivian wines on the European Market.

On Monday morning we kick-off with a breakfast meeting with many representatives of the wine sector, organised by FAUTAPO. The foundation FAUTAPO, established 2005 with the support of the Embassy of The Netherlands in Bolivia, promotes the interaction between educational and productive sectors through the development of innovative educational processes, the linking of productive units and the development of managerial and information systems to satisfy civil society’s requirements in the private and public sector ensuring that they are relevant and available to all. Also present was Luis Pablo Granier, owner of the Bodega Campos de Solana. This wine was introduced at the Wine Professional in Amsterdam this year and generated already some buzz in the Dutch wine market.

Wine taste at LA Concepcion

After a fruitful meeting we visited the wine distillery of Campos de Solana. Since the grapes were harvested at that time, it was great to see the production of wine is process. It goes without saying that the visit could not be concluded without a wine tasting. The journey continued to a small vineyard and to some wine shops in which the many small bodegas of the region were displayed. Again, some wines needed to be tested out.

The afternoon programme could be nominated as one of the highlights of my trip. A visit to the vineyard of Bodega La Concepcion. Here we were romantically welcomed by the owner, Sergio Navarro, in sunny field, under a big tree with a small table decked out with the best wines, bread and cheese!

Reflective speech at La Concepcion

As if this was not enough, some 200 m distanced from this small table, in another field, were three bigger tables and a buffet all ready for a great pastoral lunch!

It is not only because of the unique hospitality, the great surroundings and perfect weather conditions that these wines have a future in international markets. Some of the Bodegas already have the unique and distinct quality to bring a small shake up in the European wine market. Despite the fact that hard work needs to be done to achieve this, bright opportunities for the whole sector awaits when two or three wines make it to Europe.



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