Creating sustainable humanitarian projects that last beyond graduation

“We want to help improve the dignity of the living conditions for refugees by supporting more programs”

Increasing numbers of young people at Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands start to work on projects aiming to make the world a better place and deal with our scarce resources in a more sustainable way, says the institution’s Désirée van Gorp, professor of international business.

I work with at least 60 students every year who start their own projects, but unfortunately by the time their MBA or master’s is finished, these and many more projects often disappear left unfinished.

We started thinking about how we could create a community of students and alumni that would keep working on societal centric projects as a continuation of all the great work being done during our students’ degree programs. This is what we came up with.

Together with some fellow alumni and Andreea Bulisache, an International MBA graduate, we created the Young & Bold, a community of students and professionals who keep working on these projects impacting society in a positive way while looking at ways to make small ideas become bigger through sharing and involving others.

As of now, we are currently working on a project for Movement on the Ground (MOTG), a humanitarian group which helps prepare refugees on the Greeks islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios and in Athens for integration into European job markets.

As part of the educational aspect of this project, we are helping to shape the curriculum of the Movement Academy. We are fine tuning the role Nyenrode can play in delivering and certifying educational programs that aim to give people in the camps an education, get a certificate, and leave the campus with a set of new skills, while feeling more confident and prepared for challenges ahead.

We want to help improve the dignity of the living conditions for refugees by supporting more programs and helping MOTG build a separate social enterprise, generating funding for MOTG’s projects on Lesvos by selling olive oil products under the label ‘Lots of Lesvos’.

We plan for the Young & Bold to become a dual-purpose platform, which on one side helps students and young professionals who are looking to develop and grow in areas of societal impact, and on the other side supports companies in their pursuit for new ways of tacking societal challenges with the help of new and innovative perspectives.

There are different ways in which we engage with these communities but, ultimately, our intention is to bring them together.

The Young & Bold is designed to be a proxy that can bring these communities together to make a real difference. This means there’s room for everyone that wants to help and there’s room for all companies who want to support.

As long as we’re able to reach out and validate that the ones who want to get involved align to our mission to do good, then we help them expedite their understanding of our values and involve them in projects aiming to have a positive impact on society.

We also recently launched a new program, the Bold Brigade, a call to anyone who wants to join forces in doing good and to share more of our stories with our community.

This program allows direct access to our projects and our community network as well as the opportunity to co-create and implement new ideas focusing on creating educational opportunities for refugees.

At the Young & Bold we innovate in an entrepreneurial way, bootstrap when there are not enough resources, and as leaders take responsibility when things might not go as planned. The first component is to educate others in the same values that we have and then bring others into our growing community.

The ultimate goal is to develop this into a digital ecosystem where professionals, students, academics, entrepreneurs, non-governmental organisations and others can build a network of like-minded individuals, working together towards solving social impact issues that they truly care about.

We have a growing digital community on our Instagram page where we organise, among other things, sessions with experts on topics like ‘how to stay bold & resilient in times of crisis’ and the future of work, and share bold stories of people who have made a positive impact on society through their actions.

Making use of digital technology, we can unite different stakeholders around the world to engage in projects. It connects students and young professionals to collaborate for their ambition to be a factor of change for good, and to feel confident with the competence and skills necessary to provide support to people and their organisations in need of their talent.


About the author: Désirée van Gorp, professor of international business at Nyenrode Business University, is the founder of the Young & Bold, a non-profit organisation enabling young people to come together to work on projects to make their community and society a better place.