Status Update on Apeldoorn LONKT Project
When embarking on a venture, doing project status updates is as important as carrying out the project itself. That was just what the LONKT Project team has done recently. To keep all stakeholders in the loop and aligned on how the project is progressing, an online meeting was conducted on 9th September, 2020. The LONKT (Lokaal Ondernemend Naar een Krachtige Toekomst - Locally Enterprising Towards a Powerful Future) is a project that aims to connect Apeldoorn's ZZPs (the Dutch acronym for self-employed professionals or freelancers) and SMEs, to widen their entrepreneurial networks and other collaboration. Check out our first report on the LONKT project via the link here: https://www.wittenborg.eu/wittenborg-joins-partnership-boost-local-businesses-apeldoorn-lonkt-project.htm
The LONKT Project, funded by the province of Gelderland, was formally launched on March 28, 2018. The project is led by Apeldoorns Business Collectief (ABC) and supported by five other partners, namely Aventus, VNO-NCWMidden, MKB Midden, Owens Corning and WUAS. On 9 September, 2020, the team members met online for a run-down of the progress of the project by Wittenborg representatives, Senior Scientist Dr Nicolet Theunissen and CEO Maggie Feng.
The aims of the project were revisited, which include gaining insights into the current state of affairs when it comes to doing business between self-employed professionals and SMEs, to look at the regional labour market needs and to find out the effect of regional business and cooperation between SMEs and self-employed professionals on the economy. The design of the Work Packages was also reviewed, taking into account the COVID-19 situation, which unfortunately struck in the midst of the running of the project.
Let's Get the Ball Rolling Again
The next stage of the project is the administering of the second set of questionnaires in the coming autumn of 2020. This stage, which was originally planned to be in February/March, 2020, had to be postponed to September/October due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in early December, 2019. The onset of the pandemic has markedly affected our way of lives and businesses and many companies were struggling to stay vibrant.
After more than 6 months of the outbreak, the team feels that it is time to get the ball rolling again and continue the project from where they had paused. Through this second set of questionnaires, they hope to find out how the ongoing pandemic has affected local entrepreneurs and whether they would prefer to work with local businesses more now compared to before the pandemic.
Although the main aim of this project is not to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses, the team feels that including questions related to the pandemic will help them to assess the sentiments of business owners in the region. This will aid in their inventorying of the current state of affairs of the remaining work packages and modifying any intervention works that are already in place.
Expectations from this Survey
Dr Theunissen said that intervention works on local businesses started in 2019 and the project team now seeks an update on how the works have evolved, and whether there is any progress or improvement in the state of businesses in Apeldoorn.
When asked to clarify, Theunissen said that intervention works so far include organising meetings between the freelancers and SMEs, conducting Question & Answer sessions about jobs and projects, improving networking as well as working together to know more about each other’s businesses. The team is currently trying hard to recruit more respondents to participate in their second survey. In contrast to the first, which was qualitative, this time round it is a quantitative survey and, hence, more respondents are required to ensure the reliability and validity of the data collected.
PR efforts are being increased to recruit more respondents by using promotional texts, and it is hoped that more SMEs and self-employed professionals will come forward to partake in this survey. With the current pandemic not showing any signs of retreat, and instead threatening a comeback, all that local businesses have is each other. They have to depend on and work with each other now more than ever to ensure that they stay viable, weather the new wave of the disease and come out winners.
Calling for More Participants
The LONKT project team is calling on all local SMEs and freelancers to support the Apeldoorn LONKT project and join in the survey. They hope that we can work together and strengthen our bonds within our community to make this project a success. After all, Apeldoorn is our home.
If you would like to participate in the survey, please register at lonkt.nl or contact Trix Schipper-Hop, Chairman of Apeldoorns Business Collectief (ABC).
by Hanna Abdelwahab