Making a positive social impact is absolutely key to Erasmus University Rotterdam. This is achieved not only by means of academic research but also through the initiatives of EUR alumni in the business world. With his business Forward Incubator, Diederick van der Wijck, International Management alumnus, helps entrepreneurs with a refugee background to set up their own businesses in the Netherlands.

Van der Wijck explains in a mini-documentary (see link below): ‘Starting a business of their own is quite a challenge for refugees in the Netherlands. Our programmes confront the participants with this reality, and give them the necessary tools to solve the problems they will encounter on their road to success. We provide high-quality training and coaching from experienced business people as well as support from students’.

For example, we meet Tamim and Rahaf from Syria, who are setting up a business selling date seed coffee. Rahaf explains: ‘We don’t know how the tax system in the Netherlands works or where you have to register your business, and that’s where Forward Incubator comes in’.

We also get to know Mohammed, who runs a business supplying heat pumps to farmers in the Sudan, thus reducing their dependence on fossil fuels. The point is that the country is affected by a fuel crisis, meaning that in most cases the fuel needed by farmers to irrigate their crops in the fields is unaffordable. Greenwheeltech, the solution devised by Mohammed, means that farmers can work their land in a sustainable and profitable manner.

Mohammed’s business is now securing a position in the Sudan, thanks to support from Forward Incubator, while Rahaf and Tamim have been able to sell their coffee to several cafes in Amsterdam and through their web shop.

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