Netherlands Embassy in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Entrepreneurship in Slovenia: the Netherlands as example?

In Slovenia, entrepreneurship – or the lack of it – is a hot issue. Therefore, the Netherlands Embassy in Ljubljana organised a round table conversation about 'Dutch Perspectives on Entrepreneurship and Business Culture' on 15 February. The organisation was in cooperation with the Slovene Dutch Business Platform. A panel of Slovenes and expats discussed what Slovenia and the Netherlands can learn from each other, in front of a public of over 80 people.

The British Heineken executive Martin Hayes, who lived and worked in the Netherlands for years, mentioned the Dutch directness versus the Slovenian modesty. The directness is not personally, but it can have a contrary effect outside of a Dutch environment. Besides, the Dutch are good planners, while the Slovenes ‘just do things’, which can be effective as well. Furthermore, Hayes thinks the Dutch focus on functionality and therefore pay less attention to hierarchy.

According to insurance manager Jacob Westerlaken, the hierarchy limits the Slovenes in their creativity. It definitely inhibits younger employees to openly go against their manager, as happens in the Netherlands. However, Westerlaken sees a turn. He expects that within five years, the relationships in Slovenian companies will be changed.

Slovenian EU expert Ulla Hudina sees that there is more private capital available for investments in the Netherlands than in Slovenia. Andrej Lasič, manager at Slovenia's biggest bank NLB, confirmed this. He would like to see that more of the Slovenian savings would be used for investments in companies. 

Hudina, Lasič and Hayes think that when it comes to laws and taxes, Slovenia should take entrepreneurship more into account, both when it comes to Slovenian and foreign entrepreneurship. The Netherlands can be an example here. There, the law system is often clearer and faster, while the tax system is rightly balanced between business and social interests.

Ambassador Bart Twaalfhoven said that Slovenia, just like the Netherlands, can use its geographical location in order to be a transit country. At the same time did he advise the country to open up, for example by providing relevant info in more languages.

All speakers emphasised that they see a lot of potential for the Slovenian SMEs and family businesses.