Tertulia Andaluza en Sur In English
SUCCEEDING IN THE AGE OF AUSTERITY
The Costa del Sol Foreign Business Awards, created by CADE Marbella and supported by the Malaga Chamber of Commerce and Unicaja, recognise and promote excellence and innovation in the Andalusian business community.
Globally we are entering an unprecedented age of austerity; it is as if national governments now know what it feels like for a business to have the ‘overdraft facility’ withdrawn. Cuts in spending are commonplace across the major economies of the world; yet private enterprise is fighting back through innovation, creativity, determination and a good deal of positivity.
Marbella is no exception, and last week’s Costa del Sol Business Awards, created by CADE, the Marbella Business Support Centre of the Junta de Andalucía, showed that despite unfavourable market conditions, business success can come with an in-depth understanding of the customer and constantly innovating to anticipate and meet those clients’ needs.
“These CADE awards are democratic in that they give newcomers and established businesses a chance to shine. The awards stick rigorously to the task of consolidating businesses in the fields of new technology, communication, ecology and e-commerce, areas where Andalucía generally lags behind. Most awards here on the coast are about rewarding existing clients and the bigger players in the business community; but the Costa del Sol Foreign Business Awards actually allow the ‘establishment’ to recognise and promote new talent and innovation”, explains Louise Cook Edwards, publisher of ‘marbellas.com’, one of the three finalists in the ‘Business Promotion of Andalucía’ award category.
Fellow nominee and winner of the Business Promotion category was CCG, a firm of accountants and lawyers headed by Laura Stanbridge who offers business consulting to help companies develop their market in Spain and internationally. She adds, “I am grateful to receive the recognition from the Junta de Andalucía and the Malaga Chamber of Commerce for my recent project which included the Mayor of Marbella closing NASDAQ, and meeting national US media, government and business leaders in NYC, which contributed to Michelle Obama’s decision to visit Marbella and resulted in millions of euros in publicity and public awareness.”
Statistics highlight that thirty six per cent of the population in Marbella is foreign. So clearly the foreign resident business community is an important element of the local economy, which in turn is a major contributor to the overall success of Andalucía.
The passion of the foreign residents for the area in which they work is evident in each of their businesses.
“Setting up in Marbella is a great chance for any business. Marbella offers many opportunities and this is why we decided upon starting up here and not somewhere else” confirms Fran Gómez Espigares, Director of ‘Geoenergy Spain’, winners of the ‘Innovation Award’ for their highly energy efficient geothermal energy solutions.
The integration of foreign residents and local Spaniards is becoming a major theme in local politics, and local businesses can play a vital role in achieving this.
Cecilia Bogaard, Director of the online magazine and community, ‘Tertulia Andaluza’ won the award for ‘Integration in Andalucía’, for the work the site has done in promoting the region to all. Celia explains, “Tertulia Andaluza was born on the Costa del Sol as a way to combat the islands of people of different nationalities who isolate themselves from the rest of Spain. It’s insane that there are so many brilliant things going on and that so many people don’t know about them. We live in a fascinating region, filled with opportunities and fantastic projects. Tired of publications that promote Andalucía as being simply about beaches, flamenco and bulls, we wanted to create a platform where both Spanish and foreign residents and travellers collaborate to show the world that we’re also about indie festivals, cinema, environmental projects, rural adventures, artists, mountains, dynamic companies and literature. That community has now become an army that we mobilise to attend events and take part in projects and causes on and offline such as our monthly meetings for artists in the Centre of Contemporary Art in Malaga or rooftop concerts in Seville.”
Laura Stanbridge is also passionate about what foreign residents can contribute to the community, “It is really important that the Spanish community are aware that the foreigners living in our area are making important contributions to our society. I hope I can serve as an example which will inspire others to use their contacts, talents and experience as we collectively strive to raise standards and share our love for our community.”
One of the greatest drivers of business and economic growth is innovation; the remarkable talent to create new products, services and markets that nurture growth where before there was nothing. Fran, director of ‘Geoenergy Spain’, continues, “We have been manufacturing our ‘Geothermal Heat Pump’ in Finland since 1983 and we saw a great opportunity to expand into Spain. This kind of renewable energy is not very well known yet in southern Europe, but the potential is huge, as it will be one of the most important sources of energy - it reduces electricity bills by over sixty per cent and CO2 emissions by over eighty per cent. So, the award and its recognition of all our effort has been a great satisfaction for the whole team. We didn’t expect it but it confirmed to us that we are working on the correct direction.”
‘Company of the Year’, probably one of the most prestigious prizes a business can win here on the coast, was awarded to ‘Quanvision’, audio visual specialists, who create content for web and television. Marco Bombach, the German born co-founder and creative director of Quanvision believes innovation and embracing change is crucial to success. He says, “One of the main pillars of our success over the last ten years has always been the capability of creating and developing new business models, products or services, related to the audiovisual industry. The industry, especially in terms of technology and infrastructure, has swiftly evolved, which has even increased in the last couple of years. This opens lots of opportunities but also requires changes to your workflow or production environment.”
Marco’s business partner, Dutch, co-founder Frank Knipschild also thinks passion and determination are keys to business success, “I like to say that anyone can make a movie, but to make a movie work ….well that takes passion!” He continues, “A lot has happened since we started about ten years ago and it hasn’t always been easy but we have always kept faith in what we were doing. For example, in this time of crisis we dedicated spare time to the production of a new idea for a television series.”
Innovation does not always mean new technology or new products; it can also be about harnessing a new market or presenting a service in a new way. Babak Alimoradian, of ‘Team Xtreme’, won the ‘Young Entrepreneur Award’, with the creation of his new and dynamic outdoor adventure activities company that offers experiences across Andalucía. Babak has worked closely with the local community to get his new, innovative business off the ground. “I set up my business during 2010 and I have been positively surprised at how smoothly things have been going. Firstly, I received support from CADE in Marbella, who provided me with a free office and helped me to get my business plan together. In addition, I’ve worked with the international community here on the coast, taking advantage of the talent and services of many experienced professionals such as web designers, graphic designers, copy writers and accountants… so I am very positive about the upcoming year.”
The blossoming businesses recognised by CADE, through these nominations and awards, are instrumental in the promotion of the modern day, dynamic Andalucía to a wider audience. “We have over 1,400 members, and we’re the largest golf network in Spain, organising and running multiple events, leagues, and series” says Ronan Maguire, Owner Director of ‘Golf the Costa’, and winner of the ‘Association Award’. He continues, “It has been a huge honour winning this award and it is our intention to use it to once again promote our services in the Irish and English market. The fact that the local Andalusian government supports and encourages the work we do will encourage more golfers and overseas businesses to use our services. Our members are already recognised by almost every golf course on the coast; and we run some of the most prestigious events throughout the year and promote dozens of Costa businesses to our diverse database of members.”
Despite doing business in a global age of austerity, the Costa del Sol Foreign Business winners are optimistic for the future. Frank of Quanvision adds, “I am very optimistic about our near future. We achieve good quality level productions, technically and creatively, for very competitive prices; the outlook for our industry is good. With today’s increased bandwidth the demand for quality video content is here to stay and grow. We are now able to work perfectly over distance; so we do not only depend on the local market anymore. Our main clients are in England, Holland and Germany; five years ago that would be unthinkable but today it is reality and it shows how fast development is in our sector.”
Cecilia, of ‘Tertulia Andaluza’ concurs, believing change does inspire opportunity, “As everyone who works on the internet and lives in Andalucía knows, the last couple of years have been tough. At Tertulia Andaluza we’ve taken the crisis as a challenge that’s forced us to use our imagination. At a time when many companies are slashing their marketing budgets, we’ve created a marketing and communication department to provide alternative, affordable, inventive and interactive marketing solutions to companies throughout the region.”