Businesses often look beyond borders for growth opportunities. Some countries are obvious trading partners for geographical or historical reasons; others get a lot of attention because they are one of the popular so-called emerging markets.
But there is a group of young people in Denmark who believe that the best choice isn’t always the obvious one. And it doesn’t get less obvious than Armenia.
Simply put, Amstream is a Danish non-governmental and non-profit organisation that offers consulting services to promote collaboration between Danish and Armenian partners. But it does so in pursuit of an ambitious and wide-ranging goal: “to re-imagine the norm of the global economy”.
Tatevik Revazian, the managing director, is typical of the young people involved in the organisation.
Born in Armenia, but having lived in Denmark since she was five, she has an understanding of both countries.
It is this understanding that is at the core of what Amstream aims to do and what it has to offer.
“What we offer is local knowledge on both sides,” she explained.
“We use our network and our deep cultural knowledge of both regions in order to reach projects that might not be visible for the mainstream business person.”
“A lot of Danish companies fail overseas because they don’t understand the local environment or have access to the ‘right’ network of people,” contended Revazian.
“Likewise, the partnering country faces challenges understanding the Danish conditions and mindset. You need to involve people who understand both sides.”
As well as proposing a new target for overseas activity, Amstream aims to refocus it.
“We have taken on projects that create equal partnerships between the partners and are sustainable,” Revazian said.
“At this stage Armenia is developing and Denmark is developed. We’ve noticed that governments and businesses in Denmark and other countries, select projects based on what gives them profit, but do not consider the sustainability of the projects and what impact they have in developing countries.
Although on paper it seems like they do, they don’t. So this is a very important difference that we contribute.”
But Revazian is of the opinion that there are also similarities between the two countries.
“Armenia is a small country and so is Denmark,” she said.
“We have found that the countries’ challenges and what they have to offer are very compatible. We found out that education, tourism and science are really strong areas that could be developed.”
Amstream was recently an official exhibitor at ESOF2014, Europe’s largest science conference.
Armenian companies within the field of educational technology – such as Tumo, a digital media learning centre, and the engineering company Instigate, which teaches children programming and robotics – were invited to exhibit their educational technology products.
Indeed, education is one of the fields in which Amstream believes Denmark and Armenia have the most potential to collaborate.
The Amstream team initially comprised just Danes and Armenians, but has since become more diverse.
“A lot of the newcomers are actually not Armenians and many are not even Danes,” Revazian explained.
“They have another ethnic background and have been raised in Denmark or are here on an international program. They get inspired by the fact that we’ve taken our skills and opened up a new market for Denmark. And this is something they could get inspired to do with their own country.”
Founded in January 2013
What Amstream does: provides networking opportunities, offers consultancy services and organises events, activities and projects that enhance mutual understanding – ultimately raising Armenia’s visibility in Scandinavia and vice-versa
Amstream’s startup capital was donated by the Armenian Embassy to Denmark and Norway
In addition to Revazian, there are six board members and a number of volunteers and interns, making up a team that ranges in size from 15 to 20
A mountainous country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, bordering Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey
A sovereign, democratic, social, rule of law state
Was part of the Soviet Union before becoming independent in 1991
Population: 3 million
Has a large diaspora: an estimated 9 million Armenians are thought to live outside of the country
Armenia opened its first embassy in Denmark in 2011