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The impact investor making sure social businesses don’t forget the ‘business’ part

The impact investor making sure social businesses don’t forget the ‘business’ part

High 5 to Gert van Veldhuisen, Impact Investor
Interview: Anne-Marie Hoeve
Photos: Aurélie Geurts

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5 is here to celebrate and connect people and organisations who are having a positive impact on the world. Our High 5 series gives the stage to these inspiring people – and asks them to pass the High 5 on to someone who has inspired them. In this edition we meet impact investor Gert van Veldhuisen.

What inspired you to do what you do?

Many years ago, I learned of a saying: ‘We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children’. I was deeply touched by it and after having kids myself, I decided to dedicate my time and resources solely to initiatives that strive to make the world a better place, but also have a business model. This combination is, in my view, fundamental in scaling social enterprises.

Since 2008, I have joined and supported many purpose-driven entrepreneurs as a mentor or co-founder in scaling their companies and accelerating their impact. After handing over the management of impact investment advisory firm BiD Capital Partners recently, I now have more time to actively support great entrepreneurs who want to start or grow in Africa, where I’ve built up an extensive network.

About Gert van Veldhuisen
A purpose-driven venture builder and impact investor, Gert van Veldhuisen specialises in helping entrepreneurs find growth finance. Especially in Africa, where he created a strong network for locals by locals through advisory investment firm BiD Capital Partners.

“So many social entrepreneurs try their best at being social – when sometimes they should be a bit more of an entrepreneur”

What advice do you have for others who want to make a positive impact?

As an investor, I’ve seen so many social entrepreneurs trying to do their best at being social – with the most sincere intentions – when sometimes they should be a bit more of an entrepreneur. A business case is as important as making an impact because if you don’t have a business case you’ll have gone bankrupt before you can achieve your purpose. If you have a good product, you’d be surprised that people are actually willing to pay for it.

So, try to figure out the sustainability of your business model – it doesn’t mean that grant money should not be part of your funding, but don’t be reliant on it because then you always have to chase new funding, and you can lose your focus when the grant program wants something other than what you intended.

Who should we give a High 5 to?

Olivier Vanden Eynde, founder of Close the Gap. He has spent nearly two decades providing refurbished computers to educational projects in emerging markets. These computers allow children to learn, develop themselves and be connected. So far, he has re-allocated over one million devices from European corporates to those in need. In 2019, he moved to Mombasa, Kenya and started a technology hub and incubator for young entrepreneurial talents as well as a circular economy hub to refurbish computers.

High 5 Gert!

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