Lonneke Noteboom wins NRC Live Impact Challenge with project Kakuma Agroforestry
Lonneke Noteboom wins NRC Live Impact Challenge with project Kakuma Agroforestry

For 100 days, 100 change makers followed a course on intrapreneurship, best practices and ways to implement their plan to bring about change within their organisations. The NRC Live Impact Challenge, jointly organised by Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and NRC Live, closed on 27 June 2019 with a final event at the Caballero Fabriek in The Hague. Lonneke Noteboom won the jury prize with her project Kakuma Agroforestry, and Yede Van Der Kooij and Sipke Hoekstra won the audience prize with their project Fryslân Supercool.

Planting trees to tackle climate change and migration

Five finalists were selected out of the 100 participants to win the prize. Each pitched their idea and the impact they hoped their project would make. Winner Lonneke Noteboom, who works at Dutch development bank FMO, aims to contribute to three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with her project Kakuma Agroforestry in Kenya. Inspired by helping refugees and mitigating climate change, Lonneke has sought to turn those global issues into an opportunity. At a refugee camp in Kakuma, excluded refugees will plant trees, which allows them to earn an income (contributes to SDG 10: reduced inequalities), support the environment by CO2 reduction (SDG 13: climate action), and this helps Kakuma’s annual livestock (SDG 8: decent work and economic growth). 

“I’m filled with enthusiasm and motivation about winning this challenge. I’m really glad that people see the potential of this idea too, and am really motivated to go test the project in Kenya and make it happen,” Lonneke says. This summer, Lonneke will move to Kenya for work, and aims to run a pilot of her project in the hope of making a difference for the refugees and local citizens of Kakuma.

The project Fryslân Supercool won the audience prize. This project is about aquathermy: taking energy out of water to heat houses – this concept is not new but the team want to spread awareness about this in Dutch province Friesland.

Advice from seasoned intrapreneurs

Two experienced intrapreneurs gave a keynote speech at the event. When he worked at Philips, Maarten van Herpen set up the Africa Innovation Hub in Kenya to make an impact. Maarten acknowledged the difficulties of social innovation, but emphasised that there are opportunities too. “A lot of big corporates are good at innovating on a large scale. It would be good if they put this strength into social innovation.” Maarten said some of the biggest challenges shared by corporate social intrapreneurs are: lacking a dedicated home or owner, having to balance social and financial objectives, and dealing with scepticism from both internal and external stakeholders. 

Keynote speaker Geanne van Arkel, Head of Sustainable Development at Interface, advised to always ask for help. Especially nowadays, in contrast to when Interface started their journey of sustainability in 1994, there are so many people working on sustainability that are able to help each other: intrapreneurs ought to dare to ask for help.

What have participants learned?

“My teammates and I are really motivated to bring about change. We often have too many ideas and lose focus. The impact challenge has really helped us fine tune our project ideas and figure out ways to be concrete,” one of the finalists shared. 

Through the workshops, the collaboration, and the project on its own, participants have learned that impact can start with the power of one. It takes one person’s ideas, adopted by several others and with this force that is created, change can be realised. During the 100-day challenge, participants followed online lectures given by RSM professors, and attended peer review sessions with Outside Inc., an organisation aimed at helping entrepreneurs and organisations in how to innovate quickly. 

Participants also had the opportunity to attend workshops on design thinking given by Dr Dirk Deichmann, associate professor in the department of technology and operations, and on innovation, in particular Business Model Delta, given by Dr Ferdinand Jaspers, Director of the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship.

More information

The NRC Live Impact Challenge is organised by NRC Live, a platform that provides new perspectives and development opportunities for professionals across industries, together with RSM Executive Education. The challenge consisted of two live events in 2019: the kick-off on Tuesday 5 March and the final event on Thursday 27 June. In between, there’s a 100-day programme in which participants follow online RSM modules to get the skills and knowledge on how to initiate and implement sustainable innovations. NRC Live and RSM Executive Education aim to inspire participants, and offer them the network for innovating their business by contributing to one or more of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.


Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked 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. www.rsm.nl 

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at harriford@rsm.nl.

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