Surinamese Jim Rustveld is always full of plans, and would like to implement all of them! His wife and children need to control this tendency regularly – which is not always easy for a man with many of the qualities and characteristics that stand an entrepreneur in good stead. And with no less than three businesses he’s making progress. The businesses are: Flexsales, Ledkado and Amberrosia child day care and activity centre. The plan for Amberrosia arose at the moment he and his family returned to The Netherlands. The combination of an activity centre and a day care nursery was to play a key role and, together with his wife, he developed a unique concept. As a result of their social and community involvement they mainly target single parents. The concept continues to be extended in the two, successful branches in Hoorn and Almere – which is, of course, not surprising when you are a born entrepreneur like Jim, who sees opportunities everywhere.

1. How long have you been in The Netherlands?

I came to The Netherlands in 1967 with my parents, when I was two years old.  Life was not easy for them in Suriname because of their respective Creole and Hindu backgrounds .

2. How did you become an entrepreneur and why?
I worked at the municipality and, by working efficiently, saved them 180,000 euros . This was, unfortunately, not well received, because it meant that the municipality would receive less budget in the following year. For me this was putting the cart before the horse and led to me wanting to leave immediately and start my own business. I discovered I had certain qualities and characteristics which would stand an entrepreneur in good stead: being able to plan well, work efficiently, have a helicopter view and look ahead. I also noticed that, in comparison with my colleagues, I got more things done. Now I have three businesses: Flexsales, an employment agency in the sales area, Amberrosia child day care and activity centre and Ledkado, which offers original gifts based on LED technology.

3. Did you encounter problems when you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
I have had a business in Venezuela for years. If you can be an entrepreneur in Venezuela, you can do it anywhere. One would think. It’s funny, but people with whom I had only been in touch on the phone were often absolutely astonished to discover, at our first meeting, that I was a ‘dark-skinned man’! My mother had always done her best to get me to speak without the recognisable, Surinamese ‘W’. And that apparently had succeeded very well!

4. What are the differences between doing business in The Netherlands and business in Suriname or Venezuela?
It’s much easier doing business in The Netherlands than in Venezuela, because everything always works here. In Venezuela, for instance, you can have a day without electricity, just like that. Furthermore, it’s much safer in The Netherlands: if you’re rich in Venezuela you run the risk that your children will be kidnapped.

5. What is typically Dutch when it comes to doing business and being an entrepreneur?
In The Netherlands ‘agreed is agreed’ – and 10 o’clock is 10 o’clock. Which is good, because you always know where you stand. If you want to set something up you look at the requirements and rules and, as long as you comply with them, you’re free to simply focus on the business. However, there are sometimes too many rules, which can really slow things down and cause a lot of irritation. All those permits! If you want an underground water tank in Venezuela, for example, you can organise it just like that.
And they conduct business there with passion and emotion. The Dutch are often so cautious – they play it safe and avoid risk. The fact that the Dutch are the best-insured people in the world says it all. But the Dutch are also pioneers, traders and good market vendors.

6. What are the secrets of your success?
Enthusiasm, passion and perseverance.

7. What have you taken from both the Surinamese and Dutch cultures?
From the Surinamese: get on with the job, go with the flow, stay positive.
From Dutch culture: play it safe, act normally, use common sense.

8. Would you ever go back to Venezuela?
Perhaps. If, I hadn’t had children I would probably have remained in Venezuela. I came to The Netherlands for the security and education of my children.

9. What is your favourite fruit, and why?
Mandarins. They’re just right – not too small and not too big.

10. What is your favourite Dutch product and/or place?
Cheese – especially old, mature cheese. I don’t really have a favourite place.

TIPS from Jim

1. Make sure that you master the language perfectly, preferably without an accent.
2. Don’t take on permanent staff too soon.
3. If in doubt, don’t do it. You’ll only succeed at something if you believe 100% in it and go for it 100%.

“I have had a business in Venezuela for years. If you can be an entrepreneur in Venezuela, you can do it anywhere”