My name is Pavel Gontsarik, I come from Estonia and since 2017 I study in the Netherlands at HAS University of Applied Science. My faculty is International Food- & Agri-business, and it is the “business” part that got my interest in the financial sector and lead me to Agriterra.
My journey at Agriterra began on 17th of February 2020 when I was accepted to be an intern on a project in Vietnam. At the time my task was to analyse the state of the “Tan Nong Nguyen” cooperative and give an advice on how to make it bankable. However, around that time the whole world went into a lockdown over the COVID-19 pandemic and I could not join the team in Vietnam. It was a hard time to endure since no one knew what would happen next and I was worried that my internship would be cancelled all together.
However, due to flexibility and help from my superiors at Agriterra, I was provided with another task that I could research during the internship. My new assignment is a theoretical side of the previous topic and would look at the overall access to finance for cooperatives in Vietnam. More specifically, I was tasked with designing a roadmap for Vietnamese cooperatives to achieve loan criteria set out by the Rabo Foundation.
In the beginning I got introduced to all the colleagues who work from the NL office, and got to meet the team Vietnam over Skype. My supervisor also connected me to Mark Koppejan from the Rabo Foundation, and we got to work.
I started out by mapping the situation in Vietnam and the requirements that foundation has for cooperatives. In its nature, the bank requirements vary depending on many factors and It is impossible to consolidate all the possibilities into a single list, something that I mistakenly anticipated before delving into the topic. Using Mark’s help and explanations I managed to understand the requirements of the Foundation, their priorities and flexibilities.
Team Vietnam provided me with an in-depth feedback and information about banking products on the Vietnamese market, the national financial structure and governmental products that are relevant to local agri-cooperatives.
In conclusion, there is still much to learn and discover, the topic is large and complex. Perhaps it is a good idea to expand on my research with another student who will pay a visit to Vietnam and go through the entire process with one or two cooperatives and get some practical input on the roadmap.
The topic in itself is very interesting and important for the industry. Despite the initial change of plans and an overall state of confusion, this was a really good opportunity to get the experience of the professional setting, which was a big personal challenge, and it led to personal growth. I really hope to visit southeast Asia one day, as was much anticipated at the start of my journey with Agriterra.