An interview with Isfahan Doekhie

Thu | 01.09.2016

Real Estate

1. Dear Isfahan, you are well-known much appreciated in the Chamber, but still, please introduce yourself shortly.

I am a Dutch entrepreneur, established in 2003 in Romania. In 2003, I started working at the Athenee Palace Hilton until 2005 when I decided to engage on entrepreneurial adventures. Romania had impressed me because of the many friendly people and the huge business potential Romania had to offer.

Together with my partner, Violetta Tudorache, I started, today more than 10 years ago, the Real Estate company BLISS Imobiliare. Within BLISS Imobiliare, we focus on expat and office relocations. I am a strong networker and  since 2009 a Board Member for the Netherlands Romanian Chamber of Commerce where I have an active role in representing the interests of the entrepreneurs and SMEs.

In early 2016, I was appointed to represent the NGO ”Light In To Europe” as Ambassador to raise more awareness and visibility for their cause helping visually impaired with a guide dogs program.

2. Since 2009, you are part of the NRCC Board of Directors, being the longest board member. Congratulations! We are curios to know what triggered you to stay.

When you are part of something great it is hard to let go. The main trigger is that I am still motivated to be part of a positive group of people that like to develop the business community in Romania. I still believe I can contribute.
Besides being a Board Member, you are also a well known and visible entrepreneur in Romania. How did Romania change in the last 10 years, especially in the real estate one? Talking 10 years. Back than we were in the pre EU accession. There was a positive vibe, the market was very dynamic. Huge economic growth.

For many Romania now is doing very well. I am not so positive as also I expected more from the EU membership. Of course we had a major crisis, but a country as Romania with her potential and resources should have been better of. GDP per capita is still low, poverty is still high, education and healthcare are below European standards. We still talk about potential, when will this be turned into real economical progress for all? Regarding the real estate you have seen many developments going on, modern office buildings, more and more shopping malls, lof of residential projects. I am worried about the lack of transparency and the low quality of construction. it's still a Wild East in the real estate market. Better and more transparent regulations are needed.

3. What would be your top 3 recommendations for SMEs for 2017?
Don't give up! The good times are ahead of us. Romania has still a lot to offer for people that wish to work hard.
Keep on Investing in your people. They are the core of your business!
Next to making money and being successful also share with the people that have less!

4. Talking about the Real Estate sector: what is the current status of the Romanian market and what main opportunities & challenges do you foresee for the 2017?

This is a question you can't answer in a few sentences. There is no such Romanian market. All segments like residential, office, retail etc go through different phases. When you look around you see many developments going on. This is positive. Unfortunately there are still a lot of "smechers" going for the quick profits. They seem to have protection. This should change. The market should be more competitive on the quality of your project and less of who can help you with a building permit and project receptions.

Land purchases are still very difficult due to ownerships issues. The building permit procedure should become more transparent. Constructions should be better checked by the authorities on quality and respecting the building permits. Consumers should be better protected.

At this moment building costs and land acquisition costs for residential projects are low. Also the demand stays stable. That's why I believe that the prices will not increase a lot. It's a good time to buy, but you need to be careful about the quality. Especially in case you buy with a mortgage. Bad quality will lead in the future to lower values while the mortgage will stay the same.

5. NRCC is active with its Task Forces in Coalitia pentru Dezvoltarea Romaniei, a high level advocacy platform. What potential does this involvment bring from your point of view?
NRCC is actively involved which is great. This gives the NRCC the opportunity to further represent the interests of her members and to further improve the business environment. As NRCC we should get more and more members to actively contribute to this. NRCC is a force to be taken serious.

6. You witnessed and supported the Chamber’s growth. Why do you think a company should join NRCC? What are the main benefits now, after 10 years of activity?

We are growing our members base. This of course leads to more and better networking opportunities. Compared to several years ago we are now a lot more professional. 

The professional improvement we have made is due to an excellent executive teamm meaning for members more opportunities to a better and more positive business environment.

The NRCC is a serious and professional organization and each member can benefit of this.In the end, please a message to the members. An association like the NRCC is by the members and for the members. If you wish to benefit more from this engage the executive team and the board in your ideas and together we will make the NRCC "value for your money" Visit our networking events, our knowledge centers, contribute actively to the Taskforces, join us at the events in the other cities. Feel how vibrant the NRCC is. Together we will grow as this is in the benefit of all of us.

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