ViaGo, Amsterdam


It was an amazing full week in The Hague, Amsterdam. All the 14 visiting innovators from Benin, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda made it to arrive on time and attended the first class at The Students Hotel on Sunday 17th of March.

The program kicked off with an introduction session of project owners coordinated by Thijs Merton, the Program Officer at Aqua for All.

With temperatures around 7-10 degrees, our Monday was great. Most of the participants could not withstand the cool breeze and it took a couple of days to adapt to it. The Monday session started with project pitching. We had an intensive learning and sharing session for project pitching led by Christian from Noorderwind. The day ended with a recap of the day’s learning facilitated by Vi Nguyen.

We all waited for Tuesday field visit. It was well organized. I and a group of 7 visited the World Horti Center in Honselersdijk and had a nice tour throughout their High Tech research center offering research facilities on indoor agriculture. They also are an exhibition center for more than 100 Companies to include ‘greencube’, ‘Modiform’, ‘Mjtech’ and Logiqs. The organisation also trains youth on various Agriculture Courses.

We left the center and I started my sole journey to meet Mr Dick Bouman the Programme manager and Fund manager for VIA Water who took me to the Plastic Fantastic team down in Westervoortsedijt.

It was amazing and inspiring to meet a team of one of the plastic recycling players in The Netherlands. With their techniques and business models, I took home with me a handful of fresh ideas to add value to our plastic recycling Pilot Survey for our gardening tools and hydroponic kits. One of which includes, ‘knowing the value of waste plastic and adding value for the right market’ as well as promoting social awareness through open plastic waste collection, recovering and recycling campaigns.

The Plastic Fantastic team run regular campaigns for kids in the Netherlands and they have been successful in achieving their goals.

On Wednesday all the participants gathered for Business Development and Business Canvas Model training by Shabana Abbas and Marketing training by Karin van der Weerd at the New World Campus. It was beneficiary to all the participants. We all got diverse knowledge on how to plan for our business, identify our customers and developing our project’s value preposition.

We all waited for the VIA Water-World Water Day Café in Subtropen Zaal and the World Water Day in KIT. We started the day by finalizing with our project pitch. At 13:00 everyone was ready to tell their story in just 3 minutes.

Justice was done, participants made their day. We all went to join the panel of more than 200 people in KIT. It was also an organized platform for the participants to meet and network with different specialists . The networking skills that were learned on Thursday morning were to be put in practice.

Friday marked our last day of the ViaGo event. We had training on Leadership by Sabastian Hamers from Human Insight at New World Campus. We learned more about our AEM Cube report which showed persons qualities as leaders. The process also challenged us to consider our team member’s qualities and how best we can make efficient use of each individual player’s qualities in project success. This also helps in determining the qualities needed whenever we considering recruiting a new member to join the team.

This was followed by a practice to determine the future of the project led by Titia Wouters. The major task was to come up with a, ‘what to do list’ for two weeks, 2 months and 2 years. This helped us to put in place a memo that will remind us of the lessons we learned and to try and make a change to the things that she referred to as the anchor of our projects or innovation.

The Program was then closed with the issuing of certificates to the participants.

Vi Nguyen's picture

Many thanks for this summary of VIA GO Chris! It was great to have you all over with us on this learning journey.

From what you learnt during this training week, have you implemented any new learnings or adapted any of your activities since?