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Hitesh Kakadiya

Name: Hitesh Kakadiya
Company Name: Sheetal Europe BV
Years of Involvement in the Trade: 15 Years
Your Age: 37



What are your three priorities within the board, and how would you approach them? 

I think there are a number of projects that need to be thoroughly addressed by the next Board of Directors, but for me the three biggest and perhaps most urgent priorities are as follows. A first priority, in my opinion, is a fast and efficient-working banking service. Despite all the efforts that have been made in the past and the “basic banking service” that has resulted from that, in some cases it still takes months to open a bank account and that is really too long if you want to run a business. A second priority for me is an efficient system for importing and exporting goods through Diamond Office. This was always important, but since the issues there were after the G7 measures were introduced on March 1 of this year, a well-oiled process and clarity to businesses is even more important. Finally, it is crucial to restore the image of the Antwerp diamond industry. We have lost a lot of credit in recent years and we must do something about that if we want to revive Antwerp as the world's leading diamond hub.


As representatives of a segment of the market, how would you stay in touch with your constituents/voters?

If you represent the Antwerp diamond industry on the Board of Directors, I think it's very important to keep a finger on the pulse and to insist on two-way traffic. Two things are crucial for me in this respect: to make an effort to involve the companies active within the Antwerp diamond sector by, for example, organizing monthly webinars to inform the diamond companies and hear their concerns. We must also promote transparency through our words and deeds. Keeping all Antwerp diamond companies informed of the decisions taken and developments made by the AWDC Board of Directors by publishing them and making them accessible seems to me an absolute minimum.

How are you tethered to Antwerp?

Today I am running the Antwerp operation of the Sheetal Group, a family owned business. I started travelling to Antwerp in 2011 and in 2013 I became a resident here. I have been doing business in Belgium for more than 10 years, during which I have worked closely not only with trade members but also with other trade service providers like brokers, bankers, insurance companies and logistics companies.


What are Antwerp's assets?

In my opinion, Antwerp's rich history as a diamond center is our most important asset of all. Today, people from all over the world still relate diamonds to Antwerp and Belgium. And there is still a lot of room to further grow our business and the trade of diamonds. In 2012, 84% of the world's rough diamonds passed through Antwerp, making us the largest diamond trading center in the world with a turnover of xx billion dollars. Another important asset in my opinion is the proximity of a major train station, Antwerp Central, as well as Zaventem airport. As soon as you arrive in Belgium, you are in the Antwerp diamond district in no time!


What is the best-kept secret of Antwerp?

The quality of life and the fact that housing and living in Antwerp are affordable, especially compared to other major diamond trading centers in the world, I find is a very big advantage. There is also, of course, the beautiful Antwerp architecture, a cultural heritage that takes you back to the Gothic and Renaissance era but also shows a lot of beautiful contemporary buildings.  In the 16th century, the city was noted for the wealth of its citizens. It is estimated that at present more than 50% of the population would be of immigrant background, either first, second, or third generation.