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Navigating a turbulent world: Finding your scope of influence

Suzanne Meyer, a connector, an advocate for financial literacy, microfinance, inclusion, and an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in international corporate business and finance across multiple industries and disciplines, has joined Delitelabs Foundation as a Board member. In this article, Suzanne shares how she is looking to support Delitelabs in strengthening corporate partnerships and as a mentor to Delitelabs participants.

Be of service at Delitelabs

The first time Suzanne heard about Delitelabs was at THINK, where she studied Creative Leadership and Innovation around Social Impact. This was following Suzannes return from a year-long sabbatical – traveling solo around the world and returning with the thought: “how can I use my knowledge and skills to be of service?” She went on to work on challenging projects in India, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.

It was during the pandemic when she started thinking about how else to use her skills and experience right here in the Netherlands – that's when her involvement with Delitelabs came into being! Suzanne shares: “I believe that as a mentor to newcomer entrepreneurs, I can have a bigger impact than ie. mentoring students at Dutch universities that already have access to a well-established support system.”

Her mission is to bring hands-on financial and business skills to underrepresented and sustainability-driven entrepreneurs, combining her experience in corporate business and finance, tech start-up, and social entrepreneurship industries.

Hurdles for newcomers are high

The needs and starting point of newcomers is different compared to other startup founders in the Netherlands. For newcomers, the primary goal of starting a business is to rebuild their livelihood. From the perspective of Maslow's pyramid, newcomers stepped backwards and meeting their first fundamental needs - such as Physiological and Safety Needs have priority. Through her experience with Delitelabs, Suzanne has seen added complexity for the newcomers to get started, due to lengthy Dutch regulation hurdles that first need to be overcome.

The positive impact of migrant businesses on the economy is often overlooked. There are a range of reports on the economic value contributed by businesses established by immigrants. For example, the Aston University report Time to Change in the UK noted that “an estimated 250,000 ethnic minority-led firms contribute around £25bn per annum to the UK economy.” Yet it is clear that these businesses face many additional hurdles to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. One key issue is access to financing. Newcomers start outside an ecosystem that supports them along their challenging entrepreneurial journey. They also typically lack the opportunity to gain valid working experience quickly in the Netherlands, which would either support further employability or give valuable insights to starting up their own business here.

Creating experiential collaborations with corporates

The corporate is an organizational structure. It is the human element within the organization and individuals willingness to make a real difference that drives change. Suzanne says: “More and more I see younger generations in the Netherlands wanting to put people and the planet first, it's their focus and not just a hobby. I admire how younger generations are looking to work only for a company that has incorporated ESG-like values in how they lead their business.” Within the ESG’s, this includes also walking the talk around diversity and inclusion.

Suzanne believes that direct employee experience has a stronger impact on behavioral change within a workspace. The question is how to bring newcomers who are at an earlier stage of their integration process into organizations. There are a number of organizations in the Netherlands that already try to facilitate that, including Delitelabs. They can help to create that bridge to bring people from the newcomer ecosystem and the corporate world together. For example, through an internship, and creating a joint learning experience. This could be an entrepreneurial project in collaboration with employees. It's also a way of helping to develop entrepreneurial skills and upskilling within a corporate.

Collaborative entrepreneurial development with Delitelabs

Delitelabs can guide experiential collaborations by bringing in people, and jointly working on entrepreneurial challenges, whereby newcomers can share their perspectives. Delitelabs can help with creating a hands-on, joint, and immersive experience, around the topic that is relevant to the corporate by upskilling entrepreneurship, adding meaning to the jobs to be done, increasing employee engagement, and fostering their personal growth, and finally, adding another walk to the talk around diversity and inclusivity.

In the ongoing geopolitical climate where one crisis follows another, immersing oneself in the daily news can feel overwhelming. Suzanne says: “At times like these I'm regularly reminding myself of Covey’s concept on the Circle of influence – what can I control, what can I influence, and what I cannot control. I remind myself to work on the first two – on what I can control and on what I can influence and that every small contribution matters. I'm proud to be a board member and support Delitelabs as part of this contribution.”

At Delitelabs, we are always open to building new corporate partnerships that are looking for a place where they can contribute in a meaningful and concrete way to building a more inclusive society. If you are keen to drive inclusion and wish to make a real contribution, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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