Energetic vibes as executive students research social enterprises

Almost 20 social enterprise projects were presented by participants of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM)’s Parttime Master Bedrijfskunde programme on Tuesday 18 December. The professionals investigated management issues of several enterprises for three months, followed by presentations of their findings, and awards were presented for the most outstanding project.

The purpose of the Bedrijfsprojectwas learning how to conduct and present research, and also to inspire each other. Participant Rachid el Ousrouti, who is director of Rotterdam Vakmanstad(Skillcity), conducted research at youth employment organisation JINC with his peers. “We gained refreshing insights, enjoyed constructive group processes and learned a lot,” he said. Other organisations that took part in the project included Rebelz aan de Rotte, The Social Bakery, Erasmus MC Foundation, and Energiebespaarders.

Research methods and recommendations

In small groups, the students worked on a management question formed in close consultation with the organisations. Ultimately,more than 70 students, professors and representatives of the social companies joined the final presentations at the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurshipin the Rotterdam Science Tower, where the participants shared their research methods, findings and recommendations. The location was chosen for its strong entrepreneurial character, explained Klaas Wassens, executive director of the Dutch-taught Parttime Master Bedrijfskunde programme. “A lot of inspiring start-ups set their first steps in this building,” he explained.

Rhetorical feats

The group of the students who conducted research at Diergaarde Blijdorpzoo in Rotterdam won the award for ‘best presentation’ based on the ancient rhetorical principles of logos, ethos and pathos. Bart Kuijpers received the prize for his team. 

“You really understood what it means to conduct research, combining literature studies with your own data. You have worked towards conclusions and the recommendations are very applicable. The content was of high quality and the energy splashed off!” was the jury’s appraisal.

The jury comprised of Klaas Wassens; Eric Buckens; director of ABN AMRO’s Social Impact Fonds; and Klaas Folkerts, strategic advisor for municipality Rotterdam. 

Folkerts pointed out that we are all part of a learning process, also the City of Rotterdam, as to how we shape and facilitate social entrepreneurship. “How do we perceive impact and what is it exactly? How can we measure impact?” These questions are relevant to research, and are equally interesting to society, he added. Eric Buckens emphasized the great influence social entrepreneurs have on business as a whole. “Seven years ago focusing on sustainability started out as an experiment, nowadays it’s part of ABN AMRO’s core strategy.” 

Most inspiring social enterprise

Also, the most inspiring social company was chosen by students. Professor Rob van Tulderfrom RSM’s department of business-society managementsaid that all organisations were inspiring, but three really stood out regarding impact and purpose: JINC, Stichting Ambulance Wens and Diergaarde Blijdorp. 

Stichting Ambulance Wens, an organisation committed to fulfilling last wishes of terminal patients with ambulances developed specially for this goal, was awarded most inspiring social enterprise. Founder Kees Veldboer’s response was thankful: “This is great. I think doing something for another person is by definition inspiring. But to be awarded is wonderful, this really increases awareness. And also credits for the group that conducted research at our organisation, they works so hard and I am glad with the outcome.”

Refreshing insights

Prof. Van Tulder had moderated the evening and concluded: “This all wouldn’t have been possible without the entrepreneurs allowing the students to dive into their organisation. We really hope that this project will benefit them and facilitates their next step.”

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM)is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

Alumni , Business-Society Management , Companies , Parttime Master Bedrijfskunde , Homepage , In the spotlight , Positive change