Name / Title

Paardenkwartier Westerkwartier

Case Study Region

Westerkwartier, NL

Geographical coverage



Voluntary foundation; government


Main activity / focus


  1. Organising entrepreneurial cafés
  2. Joint promotion and advertising campaigns
  3. Connecting horse business and tourism
  4. Education and knowledge exchange

Target beneficiaries / market

Horse stables in the Westerkwartier (micro-firms)

Year established


Current Funding source(s)

RABObank, LEADER, Provincial funds


Horse stable owners in the Westerkwartier





The “Paardenkwartier” was jointly initiated by the manager of the national rural development programme of Groningen Province and the national farmers union in 2009. The aim of forming the Paardenkwartier was to strengthen the economic horse sector in the Westerkwartier, which has the highest horse density in the Netherlands. Shortly after- on advice of the initiators- the “Paardenkwartier” formed into a foundation.

The Paardenkwartier receives several subsidies, amongst others from the RABObank, the province and LEADER. These are used for various activities within four development spearheads. For example, the money is used to organize “entrepreneur cafés” four times a year which are meant to stimulate an exchange of ideas, knowledge and to facilitate the contact between individual entrepreneurs active in the horse sector. Further activities include promotion campaigns to increase the degree of awareness for the Westerkwartier as an area with the highest horse density in the Netherlands. The network also joins forces to develop riding routes and to stimulate horse tourism in the Westerkwartier. Finally, the “Paardenkwartier” aims to develop an equestrian education centre.

The Paardenkwartier is a successful example of how a local network initiatives can act as stepping stone towards international networking activities. Four board members of the Paardenkwartier thus founded a limited company to export their horses to China. Through meetings of the Paardenkwartier foundation, they began developing their export idea and eventually, they jointly sought help from the company “Great China Trading Strategy” (GCTS) to realize their plans. The company organised a business trip for the entrepreneurs to China in order to meet potential clients. The trip was organized in August and in October the entrepreneurs in the Westerkwartier were already selling horses to China. To emphasise the importance of the network for establishing the joint export firm, an interviewee (2011) states: “We found each other through the network. […] As individuals, we would have never done it regarding all the money and effort that needs to be put into it. If you do it together with three people, […] you will just do it”.


Contact details


Gerard Arkema
Haarsterweg 31
9363 VC Marum