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UP Collective Netherlands: 2022 Impact Report

Summary & Progress

In 2022 we continued with delivering Up Collective training in a hybrid format. Being able to experience in person events really enhanced the connections participants were able to make with the event audiences. At the same time, the hybrid model enabled participants across the Netherlands to partake in the programme.

This model was effective as demonstrated by a high average participation rate of 80%. This year’s Up Collective NL drew interest from a diverse group of participants across 6 countries of origin, varied professional backgrounds, and age, the youngest being 25 years and the oldest 65 years. This led to the creation of a wide range of business projects and participants being at different stages on their entrepreneurial journey, and all benefited from the program. The programme’s comprehensive curriculum gives essential business knowledge to all participants, including those who develop a business idea for the first time. They learn to create slide decks, to pitch, to manage finances, to build a brand, and, most  importantly, to build the right mindset.

New Opportunities & Innovations

This year, DeliteLabs launched a social impact mentorship program with a local business school’s Alumni group. Through this partnership, we matched Up Collective participants with 26 well-connected and highly skilled volunteer mentors. Here is feedback from one participant about his experience through this partnership: “The personal mentors were amazing. I got two venture capitalists (VCs) as mentors, which was very intimidating initially because I had never sat down with a VC. I always thought they were from another universe. I’m a technical person and they are business people. But, I slowly understood what they are searching for and how to speak their language.”

Two mentors designed and delivered workshops on following topics: “How to Build a Startup That Gets Acquired” and “Customer-Focused Innovation in Real Life”. These workshops offered participants insight into the more personal experience of what it means to become an entrepreneur. Mentors shared their experience on how they built their startups from the very beginning, and participants had a chance to be curious and ask practical questions.

At DeliteLabs we have always worked with very diverse teams ourselves, and we involve our own programme alumni in our programme delivery. This year, Up Collective was fully coordinated by a program alumni from 2021 named Aiva Eiduka. She took on the project management for Up Collective 2022, organising sessions and milestone events and providing 1-1 support to participants.

Highlights & Learnings

We were able to engage a broad audience by hosting more in-person and public events to maximise engagement with different milestones.

Kick-off session: A diverse, experienced, and eager-to-learn group of 20 participants (30% female) were present at the kick-off session that took place at the new offices of Unilever in Rotterdam.

Mentor matching: We brought together 26 volunteer mentors from business school Alumni to match with participants. Siddharth, one of the mentors shared “My very first conversation with my mentee and the introduction session of this program was quite a humbling experience and gave me a new perspective on my life and its challenges”.

Test Events: This year we held two business idea testing events, where 14 participants exhibited their prototypes. Our first test event took place at the Unilever office in Rotterdam, which was a wonderful chance to make meaningful connections flourish between Unilever staff and cohort members. The second event we held in a vibrant public space in Amsterdam. Entrepreneurs brought their more refined prototypes, and were able to interface with the general public in the wider Amsterdam community for feedback on their ideas. The public space increased awareness about what Up Collective is, and created opportunities for connection between members of the public and people with refugee background.

Pitch event: 14 graduates presented their business concepts in a 3 min pitch in front of the jury, their mentors, and the audience in the open to public event in Amsterdam. One of the biggest indicators of success we saw this year is that two programme participants, right after Up Collective, felt empowered to apply to pitch their business ideas in the fifth annual Refugee Entrepreneurship Network Business Showcase. One applicant was shortlisted to present business idea to a global audience in Venice, Italy in the Refugee Entrepreneurship Network Summit.

What’s next for us

To take Up Collective to the next level in 2023, DeliteLabs will focus on expanding the number of participants recruited, strengthening relationships with mentors through our partnership with the local business school’s Alumni group, engaging more corporate partners and funding pipelines, and further building out engagements with Ben & Jerry's team.

We plan to strengthen our partnerships with Ben & Jerry's, Unilever and other local employers to offer internship and work shadowing opportunities for next year's cohort.

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