Make money, do good!


Sometimes you wonder how a person can be this entrepreneurial and proactive. Well, Marlieke van Schalkwijk (22) is one of those people. She’s a Political Science Master student, she’s a freelance content writer, she’s the ambassador of Young Lady Business Academy, founder of Hidden Talent and co-founder of Immigrants With Impact.

Marlieke is an entrepreneurial mind at heart. At the age of 18 she decided to open her own office ‘Marlieke’s Tekstbureau’ and become a freelance content writer. ‘I just begun my studies and I really wasn’t feeling a part time job in a pub or a store. I’m still very happy with my decision, because I can work whenever I can considering my busy day schedule.’

Even at younger age Marlieke already wanted to become an entrepreneur. ‘I’m very interested in social entrepreneurship. What got me thinking was the refugee crisis of the past few years. Themes like migration and integration were actually the reason I got into Political Science in the first place.’

She recognized the problem and tried to come up with a solution. That’s when she joined the Young Lady Business Academy (YLBA) and wrote a business proposal for ‘Hidden Talents’: a startup that supports people from different backgrounds to find a job. Her idea won the second place during ‘Entrepreneurs week’ at YLBA.

She strongly believes in the idea of economic integration. ‘If people don’t integrate economically, they won’t integrate socially’, she claims. ‘Furthermore, I strongly believe that a country can create different policies to put immigrants to work, but a social entrepreneur can realize a far bigger impact.’

“It is possible to make money and do something good for humanity at the same time!”

A couple of months ago Marlieke meets her new business partner at a network event. A successful and experienced businessman, who happens to have a different cultural background himself. He’s impressed with Marliekes ideas and introduces her to their third partner. Together they come up with Immigrants With Impact, an investor company and a startup incubator for innovative entrepreneurs with different cultural backgrounds. ‘Basically, the group that is lagging behind’, emphasizes Marlieke. ‘An immigrant may have different needs compared to a Dutch entrepreneur. For example, information on how to do business in the Netherlands and cultural differences, or support in writing a business plan. We aim to invest in their startups and provide tailor-made coaching and advance their network. As for the bigger social impact, people with different cultural background are more inclined to hire others. We hope this creates a sustainable solution for immigrants in The Netherlands’, explains Marlieke.

Brick by brick they lay down the foundation of their company. Putting together the financial picture, writing a business proposal and networking. ‘It can be frustrating some times. Until the kick off there is no tangible result of our hard work, but I know I have to be patient. The kick-off is just around the corner.’

Patience is also one of the things she advises starting entrepreneurs. ‘And courage to network. Just dare to tell people who you are and what you need. Soon you’ll see that there’s always someone who knows someone and suddenly you’re in business.’ Furthermore I would recommend to join Mercator Launch. The coaches can provide you with valuable support and prepare you for the next step. And if you are a social entrepreneur, like myself, remember that it is possible to make money and do something good for humanity at the same time!’