Businesswoman Annelies: "I assume the good in people"
The versatility of Annelies van der Vorm cannot be captured in one sentence. What characterizes the Rotterdam businesswoman is that she is a very social entrepreneur. Successful but modest. "I am fortunate to have a lot of energy and live from gratitude". As an investor in PlusPlus, she talks about her perspective on life and where her broad social commitment comes from.
"I once studied at the ‘Hogere Hotelschool’ in Maastricht. Since then, I have been the owner of Badhotel Bruin in Vlieland and of Nuarro Lodge, a dive resort in Mozambique. With my company Plantwijck B.V. I like to invest in start-ups that focus on a better world.
I also hold several social positions. For example, I am chairman of the advisory board ‘For Good’ and I am on the board of ‘World Child Cancer’ of the Princess Maxima Centre. I think it is important to contribute to a sustainable and social world."
Annelies is particularly proud of the Dive Resort Nuarro Lodge, which is fully socially responsible. It is a social enterprise with sustainability high on its agenda. For example, the lodge is 100 percent ecological with its own energy supply. It also offers employment to some 80 Mozambicans. For each activity and overnight stay, a donation is made to the local community to fund projects in the areas of medical care, hygiene and agriculture. This gives an enormous boost to the local economy.
The inspiring 64-year-old businesswoman knows very well what it is like to be an entrepreneur in a developing country. "Through my experience in Mozambique, I know how difficult it is to start something in countries like this. I know PlusPlus director Peter Heijen and I think it is very courageous what he has been doing for years in these countries. Even if you only get a guarantee up to the door, you have to assume the good in people. By lending money via PlusPlus you contribute to sustainable change in local economies. After all, the money keeps circulating and can be reinvested again and again."
"The culture and healthcare are of course also very different in these developing countries. In the Netherlands, for example, when you are retired you can generally still make ends meet with your pension. But in Mozambique, without a salary you quickly become needy. That’s why we have thought of something for our staff. We buy off our retiring staff with an amount that they can use to start a store to generate income. After all, the monthly pension is never enough to live on. The health of this generation is not very good, there are a lot of venereal diseases like syphilis and HIV. Without an income, access to proper care is difficult."
Annelies learned from an early age to have an eye for the less fortunate. As a scion of the well-known and wealthy Van der Vorm family, she was given valuable standards. "Yes, my parents were wealthy and so am I, but I always learned to live out of gratitude. We used to just eat kale with sausage and generosity graced my parents. To give you an example, my father once took on the lion's share of the cost of renovating a church in Rotterdam, but he didn't talk to anyone about it. He really didn't flaunt his fortune."
"I think it's important to learn to look at people around you differently. One place where I learned that well was during the seven years I worked at a hotline, the ‘Listening Line’. I heard so many harrowing stories from people, it makes you stop for a moment. By giving something of your wealth back to society, you can bring about a lot of change. Giving a loan at PlusPlus is way to give your money a lot of meaning, because it comes back to you and you can invest in a new entrepreneur again."