How long has the Danish Business Club been operating for?
The club originated from a trade counsel, established by the Danish embassy back around 1983. However the club was only formally established via a statutory general assembly around 1997. This was the formal beginning of a democratic business club, with an elected chairman, board and bylaws. Every second year we change the board, which causes a lot of rotation and in some cases challenges in terms of consistency, but it does create a lot of new input to the club. This year we are putting considerable effort into making the club more focused on business rather than social events. Obviously this takes a lot of effort and time, especially from members of the board.
How long have you been chairman of the board?
I took over at the beginning of this year together with the newly elected board. All board members are Danes, and there are five of us, plus we have a secretary.
How many members are there, are they mostly Danish?
We have both corporate members and private members, altogether we have between 100 and 200 active members, almost all of whom are based in or doing business in Moscow, which is really our stronghold in Russia. About 80% of our subscribing members are Danish, but that doesnât mean that 80% of all participants at all events are Danish. Lego, Danfoss, Novo Nordisk, Arla or other major corporate members, might have an organisation of hundreds of Russians who could attend an event in which they are taking part so obviously there are a lot of Russian attendees as well.
What kind of events do you organise?
Firstly, we hold social events, such as the Stambord at the Restaurant Skandinavia once a month. Stambord is Danish for a table that always stays the same, and the event is always held at the same time of the month that we meet up, basically 7pm on the last Thursday of each month. People have the chance to come in and network, and meet others. It is particularly useful for newcomers, who can then write an email to a board member who will arrange an introduction to like-minded people who it might be useful for them to meet. At the same time, itâs a very good chance to catch up with what other members are doing.
Do you organise educational seminars and lectures?
We are introducing theme-based events this year. The theme could be cultural; for example this year we had a famous Danish jazz singer visiting us. The cultural department of the Danish embassy initiated that event. We are trying to bring in more and more business-like content, and we have been quite successful with this. First of all, we do some company visits, which are joint-visits to member-companies here in Russia. For instance, we went to Lego, they explained the whole story of their development throughout the last decade, from the starting point, when they entered Russia, and how they have been growing their business and developing in the regions. We also organise meetings with market experts, for example we have an upcoming event with Chris Weafer, former Troika Dialogue, Sberbank. We host events, like the upcoming event on how companies that are already experiencing pretty good growth can get finance for their business.
Not being the largest business association in Russia, we are affiliated with other associations. For example, we have a representative from Denmark in the AEB, he briefs us and also the Danish Ambassador to Russia about the content of AEB meetings. Having representatives in other organisations makes it easier for members, in that they donât have to be members of all the different associations and clubs. If we have some really important, breaking news, we share it with everybody by email. That is why we have a special website which is accessible to all subscribing members. We have a group on Linkedin and it is shared across all types of media.
Which language do you use?
Our operating language is English, because we all speak that, and because one of our aims is to attract Russian staff working for Danish companies, generating a good foundation for mutual business opportunities.
What is your relationship with your embassy?
They are a huge help to us. We use their facilities a lot, but there is a limit to how much the embassy can help all Danish companies coming to Russia and also those that are here already. Sometimes we are not able to hold the bigger events at the Danish embassy and have to find alternative locations suitable. We would like to see ourselves as being an independent business club, but very tightly linked with the embassy, trying to support our corporate and private members in the way the embassy canât.
How do you stop the Club becoming a social organisation?
We are a business club, so the balance should lean more to the business than the social. Having said that, both Russians and Danes like to do business with people who are likeminded and with whom they have socialised with. So what we do is to be very clear when we send out our invitations as to exactly whether an event is business or social. We attach the agenda to the invitations, so there can be no doubt as to what the event is about. We are experiencing that because we have managed to create successful business events, our social events are getting more serious.
Can anyone join the Club?
Like any club, we have bylaws. The most important thing for anybody who wants to join, whether on an individual or corporate basis, is that the applicant has to have an association with Denmark. This doesn’t just mean that the person has seen the little mermaid back in Copenhagen. We are talking about Danish citizens living in Moscow or doing business in Moscow. We are not looking at passports, but you have to have a very close association with Denmark. Corporate applicants have to be Danish companies. If they are registered in an intermediary zone, thatâs OK, but they have to be primarily Danish.
So you turn some people down?
Yes, on a regular basis, and this is to preserve the quality of the club. Obviously getting access to such a club could be quite useful for many companies who want to sell their services to members. We are very strict when it comes to certain companies or individuals wanting to invite or present something to our members.
Is your income from subscriptions or from sponsorship, do you have any money over for charity?
We have a tiny subscription fee, which keeps us going with our administrative costs. But then we have some very loyal sponsors, and the list is growing, because of the very strong initiatives shown by board members in this direction. We have two main events during the year. One of them is our mid-summer event, which is a big tradition in Denmark, which we have held since 1993. Itâs a wonderful chance to get together, because itâs just before people are leaving on holiday. The second big event is a Christmas farewell for the year. This is more formal and usually it is held in the residence of the Danish Ambassador.
Unfortunately we donât have enough money left over for charity. The money we have is the membersâ money. We could bring forward a suggestion to donate to a certain charity, but it would have to be done at our general assembly, according to our bylaws and so on. What we do practice is that members who are part of charitable organisations, and able to pass on invitations to our members to participate in their events or make donations to causes that they support.
DBC Business Events – Autumn 2013
Our aim is to have one solid Business event a month in the season September-November and February-June. Â This autumn we have thee very different events.
12th September – Company visit to the Danish company Haldor Topsoe. The Company is a global leader within catalysts and catalytic process technologies, and established a representative office in Moscow in 1992.
The General Director Jens Perregaard will be the host of the evening and will give a speech about the Russian part of the company.
24th October – Together with EKF (DenmarkÂ´s official export credit agency) DBC will make a whole theme day about financing in Russia. Â Mainly focusing on Danish projects
14th November -Â Economist Chris Weafer will give a lecture about the latest economical, financial and political trends on the Russian market.
For more information and to see the list of cultural event which are continuously updated, have a look at our webpage www.dbcmoscow.camp9.org