The fun factor combined with joint effort is an important motivator


1. Could you tell us a bit about your professional background and what you are working on at Refugees Forward?

I have spent the last 12 years working in marketing and consumer products (mainly food) in the Netherlands, partially also in the international field. I have experience in both corporate and startup business development, of which I have spent the last 4 years working in Amsterdam at a frozen yoghurt company.

Earlier this year, I found Refugees Forward on the internet while I was searching for meaningful projects in Amsterdam, and I got to have a talk with Diederick, the co-founder of RF in March. Ever since, I decided to become an active coach during the Incubator Program. Right now, I am working with Teha, who has a business idea for a barber shop especially for curly hair, and Muhammed Ari, whose business idea is selling fruit bouquets, a concept taken from his home country Turkey.


2. What motivates you in life?

I can say that achieving something together as a team or achieving something fun in sports motivates me. I do not see myself as an individual who wants to achieve things all by myself; I am always looking for teams to be working with.

Creating joined effort while keeping the fun factor involved is something that I highly value. Even if I am in a stressful situation where something is not working, I always try to bring a fun element or get fresh air to distract myself, and refocus on work. I would not want to think about KPIs (key performance indicators)all the time, even though they help to focus.


3. What did you learn from the people involved in this program?

I have learned a lot from both RF organization and entrepreneurs in the Incubator program.

From the organization, I learned a different angle of entrepreneurship. It has been intriguing for me to see how the team functions within a year after its first foundation. How RF has been involving, and working with all different organizations, and people has been fascinating for me.

Also, it has been interesting to observe how newcomers view business or entrepreneurship in the Netherlands. All the regulations, and complicated administration procedure that they have to go through have let me experience a mirrored view of doing business in Holland. Despite all the obstacles along the way, the drive that these newcomers have to realize their business ideas is admirable.

In addition, I sometimes get positively surprised by how calm these entrepreneurs approach several matters. Some of them have been through turbulent, emotional,and life-changing situations,but they remain considerate and attentive. I consider this as their strength as some entrepreneurs in the Netherlands are not so patient or open to other people’s ideas or input.


4. Do you have any key figures in life that inspired or deeply influenced you?

I get a lot of inspiration from different local entrepreneurs here in Amsterdam as I can see how they work from the start.  I admire various international entrepreneurs that are already successful but they are “too from from my bed” as you would say in Dutch. If you are more close-by, you can see how companies start, move into new markets, and sometimes even witness the struggles they have to overcome.


5. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

In 5 years, I still see myself working at marketing and business development side of an innovative consumer products company, in a primarily entrepreneurial role. I hope further down the line, I will create an inspiring consumer product brand myself.

And in the next 10 years, I would like to live and work somewhere abroad even though I am not actively looking for opportunities now. I have lived in Barcelona, London and the USA, and that was priceless, to quote a large credit card company’s slogan, ha ha. And I hope I will be able to fly on electronic planes by then. It would be amazing if we could use cleaner transportation in 10 years.