Wittenborg Students Develop Socially Oriented Businesses
Anubhav Singh and Aldryan Mahendro Collaborating with Social Entrepreneurs
Amsterdam-based Wittenborg students Anubhav Singh and Aldryan Mahendro have started developing their own businesses after participating in the module Social Enterprise: New Business Planning, offered in partnership with Brighton University between September and December 2021. Coordinated by senior lecturer Amy Abdou, the module’s activities involved visits to vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Amsterdam Zuid and Zuidoost, with the goal of inspiring students to act ethically and responsibly by introducing them to local social entrepreneurs.
Singh and Mahendro, both pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Entrepreneurial Business Administration (EBA), have been collaborating with beekeeper Michael Ferdinandus, owner of BijGein, a lunchroom and honey shop located in Amsterdam Zuidoost.
After realising that vegetarian and vegan restaurants face logistics challenges regarding deliveries, as well as other areas, Singh started developing a solution that involves recruiting students as temporary workers. So far, he has managed to place four students into jobs, not only at BijGein but also at Biu!Tea, another Amsterdam-based company he is collaborating with. Mahendro, in turn, has been working on digital marketing solutions and social media campaigns for BijGein. He plans to launch his company in June, also focusing on social entrepreneurs.
Singh pointed out that he was motivated to start working in partnership with Ferdinandus because the beekeeper and restaurant-owner is actively promoting social change and positively impacting the environment. “Michael says we need more flowers, the ones that the bees like, and he explains that this will make the difference in Amsterdam Zuidoost where there is a significant lack of green spaces. That is why working with Michael and BijGein is important to me, because he is trying to bridge profitability and environmental impact. In addition to offering vegetarian food options, he is educating the community on the importance of green spaces which, along with his love for bees, provides hope and inspiration for young entrepreneurs like me.
He also mentioned that his social enterprise plans to connect students to various businesses in Amsterdam, in a way that allows them to conciliate their studies and work. “We work only 16 hours per week, as part-time employees, and this allows us to prioritise our school activities. The idea for this company came to me when I saw that entrepreneurship cannot be done alone; students need role models while established entrepreneurs need mentees who want to learn from their experience and help their businesses succeed.”
Senior lecturer Amy Abdou said that she planned the module based on the idea that it is not enough telling students that they have to be concerned about climate change, adding that educators must inspire students to take concrete actions to make a difference. “Two businesses grew from the original course, and this is something to celebrate, because it is entrepreneurship in practice, with our students really getting involved and becoming part of the local community. That is the ultimate goal of the module, to connect students with inspiring entrepreneurs and motivate them to start their own initiatives, centred on what they believe in,” she stressed.
by Ulisses Sawczuk