Social Enterprise in the Netherlands


Michelle at the launch of the 's-Hertogenbosch Social Enterprise Network

Michelle at the launch of the ‘s-Hertogenbosch Social Enterprise Network

The third ESSE Europe management meeting was held in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands in May 2016.

PSEN was represented by Gareth Hart and Michelle Virgo and most of the time was taken up with meetings about ESSE outputs: the Train the Trainer course aimed at teachers and vocational educators; the Best Practice case studies; and PSEN’s contribution, the social network for social enterprise educators.

But, as well as all that, we got to visit some inspirational local social enterprises and went through heaven and hell with our ESSE partners.

Social Label is the brainchild of designers, Petra Janssen and Simone Kramer. Their vision is to redesign the economy with people at the centre, and their business links household-name designers with skilled makers who are distant from conventional labour markets. Together they design and make high quality products. I couldn’t resist a couple of their “tattoo” design bowls as no two are the same.

Starters4Communities kicked off in Amsterdam in 2013, and is now operating across the Netherlands, with plans to expand into the UK and elsewhere using a social franchise model. Their business model trains graduate “starters” to be social entrepreneurs, with crowdfunding the programme being the first assignment for trainees. Manon and Raoul talked us through their project, then facilitated a challenging workshop which helped us to further develop our own train the trainer programme. Thanks guys!

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Light show commemorating 500 years of Hieronymus Bosch

Our visit coincided with the 500th anniversary of the death of Hieronymus Bosch and the city was alive with celebrations of his work. Highlights had to be the boat trip which took in Hell’s tunnel  and the stunning light show in the market square.

The two day programme finished with the launch of the ‘s-Hertogenbosch Social Enterprise Network, where they were keen to hear from “the experts” about how it’s done!

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