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July 2, 2006

Risk Profile

Gawie se Water 06 06 007.jpg
To protect their water and meat supply system at the Cape, mid point on the trade route between Europe and Asia, the VOC (Dutch East India Company) built this castle fortress on the Cape Town shore in 1666. It still stands today. By contrast, there is a 313 metre long mini-oil refinery moored in the harbour in the background. This is the FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Off-take vessel) Dalia, soon to go to a permanent site in the Atlantic, off Namibia.

Have you ever thought about setting up a company to mine the moon, or to trade with Martians, presuming that we find some?
Sounds like a risky venture. Imagine what your bank manager would say when you outline your Martian business plan.
When the Dutch East India Company was founded in 1568 to trade in rare goods on the other side of the planet, that’s what their risk profile looked like. Out of every five ships that left Europe to fetch nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, tea and Chinese porcelain, only one returned, sometimes empty-handed.
In 1602, the VOC had an amazing break when the Dutch government granted the company a monopoly on trade in the East Indies (today’s Indonesia, India etc.). They were empowered to use any and all means to achieve their goals, including fighting enemies of the Dutch and preventing anyone else from anywhere trading there.
The VOC rapidly became the richest and most powerful company on earth.

Posted by Jason at July 2, 2006 3:56 AM

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