Why do some Maltese companies thrive in foreign markets, while others don’t quite make it? Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Evarist Bartolo illustrates what he believes is the key factor through an unlikely piece of literature considered a cult novel originally published between 1930 and 1931.
In a recent Facebook post, he commented on what it takes for Maltese businesses to make it in foreign markets.
“The best Maltese companies which are succeeding in other countries are those that understand the reality and life of the countries where they are working, and want to work,” said Mr Bartolo, adding that their success lies in having the knowledge of what those countries’ needs are and having the means to fulfil those needs.
He criticised Maltese companies that set up shop abroad without doing their ‘homework,’ such as putting effort into understanding the country’s geography, history, and culture, simply expecting their products to sell. Mr Bartolo says these companies do not catch on.
A reference was made to a story called ‘Ulied in-Nanna Venut fl-Amerka’ (The Children of Grandma Venut in America), about a group of Maltese people who believed they knew everything there was to know, and emigrated to New York, expecting everything to work out as it did in Malta. However, they soon learned the error of their thinking, and ended up returning to Malta.
The need to better understand the world we live in, and how it is changing was emphasised in the Facebook post. If Maltese companies are to succeed in other countries, they cannot approach the world the same way as the characters from the story.
“To create wealth, we need to invest in other countries. But we must be ambitious, intelligent, realistic, and humble to learn what we need to learn,” remarked Mr Bartolo.
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