The Dutch startup ecosystem, known for its dynamic and thriving environment, is privy to a diverse pool of talents and innovation to shape its future.
These talents, that include entrepreneurs, thought leaders and community builders, have made remarkable strides in the vibrant Dutch tech hub.
What’s more important is the diverse pool from which these talents come. And celebrating each of them is a boost to the entire Dutch startup ecosystem.
Black Achievement Month
The “Black Achievement Month” is a tribute to the exceptional entrepreneurs and leaders of colour who have made immeasurable contributions to the ecosystem.
While the entrepreneurial journey can be challenging for anyone, it can be even more so for individuals who belong to historically marginalised communities.
Despite these obstacles, numerous black visionaries in the Netherlands have broken barriers, created groundbreaking startups, fostered innovation, and built bridges within their communities.
In this article, we are shining the spotlight on these black entrepreneurs, thought leaders and community builders who have not only transformed their lives but have also enriched the entire Dutch startup ecosystem with their ideas, talent, and resilience.
Marian Spier, a distinguished serial entrepreneur, is dedicated to driving positive change for women-led startups globally, while also providing invaluable guidance to organisations and corporations on their journey toward greater inclusivity.
Her entrepreneurial journey began in 2012 when she embarked on a consulting venture, rapidly expanding her reach to encompass an impressive and diverse clientele across 15+ countries.
Furthermore, Marian’s commitment to empowering female entrepreneurs led her to establish FEM-START, a pioneering platform to bridge the global funding gap for women entrepreneurs.
Beyond her entrepreneurial pursuits, Marian holds advisory and board member roles in prestigious organisations such as Van Doorne, the Van Gogh Museum, VandenEnde Foundation, Harper’s Bazaar, and Soho House Amsterdam.
Kimberly Ofori, a former banker turned management consultant and successful digital entrepreneur, boasts a dynamic career filled with remarkable achievements.
Over the past decade, she has demonstrated her entrepreneurial prowess by founding and selling two companies, while her professional journey has taken her to various corners of the world, engaging with clients in the Middle East, Africa, the United States, and Europe.
Kimberly now runs Ofori & Co, a strategic innovation consultancy where she supports fast-growing companies and large corporations to scale innovations to new markets and on organisational design, culture change and leadership.
She is currently seated as chair of the executive board at VOAW, the advisory board of several startups, and functions as an advisor for entrepreneurship programmes run by the UNDP and the European Innovation Council. Kimberly Ofori, on top of being part of Dutch New Narrative Lab, she leads the initiative’s new incubator, called Launchpad, a 12-week pre-accelerator programme.
Ruben Brave is a Dutch internet pioneer, a board member at impactful tech or media-related organisations, a media professional, and a serial entrepreneur in technology, media, and telecommunication (TMT).
He stood at the cradle of leading Dutch online initiatives of some of the largest companies in publishing, sports, telecom, and travel. For example, he is one of the founders of Dutch New Narrative Lab (DNNL), an initiative was developed to improve access to innovative entrepreneurship for all under-represented groups in the Dutch startup scene (e.g., women, persons with a migration background, LGBTQ+, neurodiversity but also scientists).
With his company, Entelligence, he builds public benefit corporations in collaboration with knowledge institutions, such as the Center for Job Knowledge Research that has developed an innovative assessment to determine the growth potential of individuals.
Ruben has a profound insight and understanding of the network economy and is a frequent author on media-related issues.
Jerrel van Eer boasts a wealth of expertise spanning over 15 years within the CRM sector. As a seasoned consultant and product owner, he is passionate about conceiving and delivering customer-centric solutions.
His primary specialisation lies in Salesforce, where he excels in implementation, optimisation, and integration for medium and enterprise-level enterprises.
Leveraging his extensive skill set, Jerrel plays an instrumental role in assisting companies in maximising their operational efficiency, offering them top-notch IT solutions.
Jerrel’s primary objectives include aligning business goals and requirements, designing strategic architecture, and executing innovative solutions with precision.
He has a proven track record of driving innovation, enhancing efficiency, and maximising customer satisfaction by leveraging cutting-edge technologies and agile methodologies.
Jerrel van Eer also has a strong interest in UX management and best practices.
Virgill Olvira founded Mindset Media, a multicultural digital agency in Amsterdam. With a diverse team, they create compelling media campaigns.
He is an enthusiastic and inspired professional who blends innovative marketing and sales strategies in his work. He has a talent for developing strong and long-lasting relationships with clients, which helps him make meaningful connections.
Virgill Olvira also co-founded The Extra Mile with Chiel Griffioen, Jerrel van Eer, and Ryan Weibolt. It is the first co-working space for entrepreneurs of all colors in the vibrant neighborhood of Amsterdam Zuidoost.
Sacha Martina, the founder of Your Talent Agency, is a dynamic and accomplished professional dedicated to empowering businesses in the Netherlands with a diverse and international workforce.
Her agency, Your Talent Agency, is a trusted partner for companies such as Instruqt, Trunkrs, Lepaya, Pacmed, Aidence, Otrium, and many others, helping them grow by acquiring top talent.
Beyond her entrepreneurial works, Sacha is a seasoned diversity and inclusion specialist and a captivating public speaker.
As a woman of colour in the business world, she has firsthand experience confronting bias and prejudice. This journey has driven her to advocate for greater awareness of multiculturalism, equality, and social justice issues.
Sacha’s professional background in HR and People & Culture has equipped her with the skills to lead international (tech) companies and translate business objectives into tangible goals, using OKRs and KPIs to optimise people teams.
Marianne Dorder-Servet, the Information Manager at the Laboratory Amsterdam UMC, is dedicated to enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of information processes within organisations.
With a wealth of experience, Marianne excels in identifying users’ information requirements and skillfully transforming their functional requirements and desires into tailored solutions.
She skillfully oversees the direction of information services (IV) within the laboratories, actively participating in the formulation of a long-term strategy and a comprehensive roadmap that outlines the necessary steps to achieve their goals.
Marianne Dorder-Servet is also a founder of Stichting Zwarte vrouwen voor Technologie (Black Women for Technology Foundation). It encourages, connects and supports Black women to choose or grow within ICT.
Kemo Camara is the founder and CEO of Omek, a professional platform designed to lift the African diaspora.
For the past 20 years, he has lived, studied, and worked in cities across Africa, The United States, and Europe.
Further, he has founded startups, built non-profit organisations, and played various leadership roles in community organisations.
Shea Harty is a social impact entrepreneur who founded the Empowerment Foundation to provide access to information and resources for immigrants who are unemployed and living in the Netherlands.
The foundation is now expanding to help Women in STEM to increase the number of women leaders in STEM and to provide women founders with access to funding for their startups.
Shea Harty is also a sought-after speaker at internal corporate events and prominent industry conferences.
Her talks address a range of critical subjects, including diversity, inclusion, equity, community engagement, the imperative for more women in technology, conquering the fear of sales, and strategies to foster greater workplace engagement.
Tirza Snoijl is the founder of The Project Wizard with a remarkable ability to navigate through complexity and bring solutions tailored to the needs of entrepreneurs.
The Project Wizard offers entrepreneurs the tools you need to meet the requirements of various financiers while simplifying the fundraising process. By adopting a systematic and structured approach, the organisation saves you time and money and increases your chances of success.
Her expertise spans from meticulously crafting business plans to generating precise financial projections and perfecting the art of pitching.
Tirza’s extensive experience allows her to easily identify potential weaknesses and develop strategies that strengthen an entrepreneur’s pitch.
However, what truly ignites Tirza’s passion is her dedication to working with underrepresented entrepreneurial groups. She recognises the obstacles these aspiring business leaders encounter when pursuing financial support.
For her, regardless of background, every individual deserves an opportunity to thrive.
Tirza’s commitment to levelling the playing field is evident through her sharing of knowledge and developing specialised tools and processes.
Her ultimate objective is to empower entrepreneurs to bring about change within their communities and create intergenerational wealth.
Before founding BrandedU in 2014, Nancy Poleon worked as a marketing manager for BMG in London to help artists such as Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, and Pink rock the stage.
She realised her experiences from the entertainment world could be used in personal branding too, which resulted in the BrandedU Rock-’n-Roll Branding method.
It’s a unique personal branding method based on encouraging authentic behaviour. Because BrandedU believes that personal brands are built from the inside out and are based on authenticity.
Where other programmes are often focused on changing women, Poleon’s venture encourages women to be themselves.