Henrik Huenting, Director of Business Development, Ideas in Motion
My name is Henrik and I graduated with a M.A. in Advanced International Business Management from Newcastle University Business School in February 2015. Since then I have been working as a Business Development Manager at a multinational consumer goods company.
My journey to social entrepreneurship
After graduation, I started to think about my future and what kind of professional career I wanted. I decided, before applying for any jobs, that I wanted to gain further business experience in the consumer goods industry. As a result, I started an internship at Unilever in Category Management where I worked for exciting brands such as Walls, Ben & Jerry’s and Sure. During my internship I met one of the founders of Ideas in Motion, a charitable start-up organisation that helps African entrepreneurs build and develop their skills and businesses in a sustainable way. Right from the start, I felt that this innovative approach to global knowledge transfer was much more efficient than the “outdated” form of development aid via monetary transfers to African countries.
How does our approach to local economic development and entrepreneurial support work?
We developed an online platform called idegoafrica.org which brings together African entrepreneurs with experts from all around the world. Entrepreneurs are able to connect to people with the required skills who can then advise and help on-site, for projects of one to six months. This support enables our entrepreneurs to fuel the growth of their business.
Our journey to bring free business support to Africa begins in Rwanda. Entrepreneurship is key in this country in order to grow economically and socially. It is our mission to fill any knowledge gaps in our entrepreneurs with the skills of experts in the relevant field(s). An expert is defined as someone that possesses the much needed know-how including; students, young professionals and experienced professionals.
What is my role in the organisation?
As Director of Business Development, I am responsible for connecting with universities, companies and politicians. I also create research internship programmes for students including within the Global Experience Opportunities Programme at Newcastle University Business School.
In our first year of working with the Business School, we provided two students with the opportunity to support two entrepreneurs on four week long projects in Kigali, Rwanda. I also advise companies in aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility and Employee Capacity Building. This means that companies may think of sending employees on entrepreneurial projects in Africa to develop their personal and professional skill set as well as to get engaged with highly-motivated African entrepreneurs.
What have we achieved and what is our vision?
Our network, with over 100 renowned universities and multiple corporations, is growing from day to day. Our online platform idegoafrica.org is gaining lots of attention from both experts and entrepreneurs.
Our organisation is growing rapidly which is evident in our head count. Within the last year, we grew from 5 to 25 ambitious students and young professionals. Most importantly, in our first year of operation, we managed to send at least 25 experts on projects in Rwanda. Due to our success we plan to expand our operations to further countries in the East-African Community.
Connecting the world with social entrepreneurship
In times of globalisation, innovation and rapidly changing conditions on our planet, being connected to one another by sharing thoughts, experience, knowledge and skills is crucial for a mutually beneficial future. I would like to encourage more people to become socially engaged and help people connect with each other.