How Can Indonesian SMEs Excel in the European Market?

As part of our North Sumatra program, the Embassy connected more than 100 North Sumatra-based SMEs with Dutch experts in an online session in June, when we deep-dived into best practices and know-how on exporting products to the EU market. The interactive discussion touched upon the many reasons to export, things to consider, ways to be successful, and who to partner with. The event aspired to contribute to strengthening the Dutch-Indonesian trade ties.

Picture: Mr. Afifi Lubis by the Provincial Government of North Sumatra
©Dutch Embassy Indonesia

Mr. Hans de Brabander, Head of the Economic Department, kicked off the session by explaining how this event was intended to assist the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to gain access to market their products to the EU through the Netherlands as gateway.

Acting Provincial Secretary of North Sumatra, Mr. Afifi Lubis, in his remarks expressed his appreciation for this initiative, particularly with regard to supporting local SMEs by upgrading their product quality. He also hoped that the bilateral relation will continue to be able to realize further economic partnerships.

©Dutch Embassy Indonesia

This event was also in line with the efforts of the Indonesian Ministry of Trade and Bank Indonesia North Sumatra to support the local SMEs to go global. Mr. Marolop Nainggolan (Director Export Development Cooperation, Ministry of Trade) and Mr. Soekowardojo (Head of Bank Indonesia North Sumatra) elaborated upon how both institutions provide assistance for SMEs through their export development programs, for instance with capacity building. The Embassy highly values the collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Trade, the Provincial Government of North Sumatra, and Bank Indonesia North Sumatra in this activity, particularly in connecting with the SMEs in the Province.

Ms. Dika Rinakuki, expert and an experienced exporter at the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI), presented a complete picture on the European market, including market trends, demanded products, and how COVID-19 has shaped consumer needs. She also elaborated on ways to start exporting, while focusing on the Province’s top commodities like coffee and home textiles. Matching the audience profile, her explanation triggered enthusiasm during the Q&A session, where participants showed curiosity over European requirements, such as sustainability & traceability, as well as utilizing digital platforms to promote their products to potential buyers. CBI itself currently runs coaching sessions for selected Indonesian SMEs specifically on Natural Ingredients and Home Décor & Home Textiles.

From the Dutch consumer market perspective, experts of the Dutch program Netherlands senior experts (PUM), Ms. Christa Nollen and Mr. Frits van Leer gave valuable tips and insights on being a successful exporting entrepreneur. Among others, the participating SMEs were highly advised to thoroughly research the characteristics of their destination markets, as exporting activities require a lot of preparation, varying from logistics up to bureaucratic matters. While investigating the opportunities, it is also crucial to learn from experienced mentors, which can be done through PUM representatives in Indonesia. Ms. Nollen herself resides in Kisaran, North Sumatra and is ready to help committed local SMEs in upscaling their businesses and aim for global market. For more information, SMEs can contact PUM experts through

This event once again re-confirmed the strong appetite of both Dutch and Indonesian partners to strengthen the bilateral trade relations. The Embassy-led Virtual “Focus Sessions” and Economic Mission to North Sumatra contribute to reaching this goal, by gathering Dutch and Indonesian companies to explore sustainable business opportunities in the region. Find out more through our online platform ( or through email to The recording of “Exporting Indonesian Products to Europe” session and presentation materials can be accessed through the platform.