UnitedSucces Media Publication

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‘I've always tried to combine idealism with realism when investing in business projects.’

Annelies van der Vorm

A GRAND DAME IN BUSINESS ANNELIES VAN DER VORM

An exceptional woman with a tremendous heart for business.

It has been a great pleasure interviewing an exceptional woman with a tremendous heart for business in Southern Africa. An entrepreneur pur sang who truly believes in investing in charities in our region. Annelies is as charming and enchanting as her distinctive Dutch appearance and her unlimited devotion to the Southern African region is unwavering.


WHO IS ANNELIES VAN DER VORM? 


Annelies van der Vorm was born in 1957 in a small village close to Rotterdam. Part of the third generation of the founding family of well-known construction company, established by her grandfather. She studied at the Hotel Management School in Maastricht, was one of the very first women to graduate and is a loving mother of six children.


 


WHERE DOES YOUR LOVE FOR AND CLOSE INVOLVEMENT WITH SOUTHERN AFRICA AND ITS PEOPLE STEMS FROM?


It was actually an incredible adventure when we started building the lodge in Mozambique. I had already been involved in the hospitality business before this idea came to life. Over time, my career and the several corporate management positions l've held made me question: 'ls this how I want to live the rest of my life, the way I want to invest my time and effort and how could l actually make this world a better place, in any way?'

In 2005 l came across a group of inspiring entrepreneurs who were all involved and interested in sustainable businesses. Paul Baan was the one to unite this amazing group of likeminded people and we called our collective Nijenroad.


 


Those were also the days I acquired the Badhotel Bruin at Vlieland, an old grand hotel on one of the Northern Islands in the Netherlands and got involved in the business and concept development of the ecological supermarket chain Marqt. That was back in 2007 and since then, I've always tried to combine idealism with realism when investing in business projects.


 


The Nijenroad does no longer exist but sustainable business has been on our agendas ever since and we still get to see each other from time to time. My involvement in this African adventure has also been the direct result of my versatile network.


 


HOW DID THE MOZAMBIQUE PROJECT COME ABOUT?


It was in that same period that l met a friend of a friend who had started the building of an Eco lodge Mozambique. They were in need of new investors and inquired whether might be interested in investing in Mozambique. I have to be honest, I was quite hesitant at first but we initiated a meeting in the Netherlands and that's when I felt a heartfelt connection with Trienke Lodewijk one of the initiators of this Mozambican dream.


 


WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THIS NUARRO LODGE?


It is located in the North of Mozambique, in a very remote area of Nanatha and you will find the lodge on the tip of Memba Bay. My vision for an investment in an area like this is based on the idea of giving back to local community. The lodge has completely been built with local materials, such as stones and wood and more importantly; it has entirely been created with the help of the local community. In this way, we have invested in that same local community in order to empower them.


 


We have a memorandum of understanding with the community which is quite unique in Mozambique. The area is a paradise for divers and we've prevented the Bay from being robbed of its ecosystem, from the fish to the coral and everything in between. The area was a remote area when we started this project and there were no amenities at all. By investing in and installing solar panels, we've provided the area with electricity.


 


Through the Anan Clinica foundation (ananclinica.com) and help of Dutch university interns we've built a school and developed local healthcare for the community We always welcome talented students to provide us with their specific knowledge and time and are glad to offer them an inspiring environment to develop themselves and apply that knowledge while working on their thesis under our roof.


 


DO YOU HAVE SOME CRUCIAL ADVICE FOR OUR READERS?


If I look back on it now and could give some advice to business who would like to enter the field of sustainable entrepreneurship, l can only emphasize the importance of maintaining a good relationship with the government(s) and foremost involving the local community. Also, always invest in proper juridical advice in order to adequately manage the legal aspects of business.


 


WHAT DID SANEC DO FOR YOU?


SANEC has been a great help by putting me in touch with all sorts of inspiring people. I attend their networking events whenever have the chance and it's a great starting point for companies to kick start their initiatives and to get to know the right people that fit their businesses or a specific phase of their business cycle. 


 


On the first of January Annelies van der Vorm was appointed as the new Chairperson of Children's Fund MAMAS: a Dutch NGO supporting 30 leading NGOs all across South Africa. She took over from Bas Kardol, the founding and honorary chairman of SANEC.



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