‘That turnaround was worth a thousand percent’

Roel: “I studied economics in Utrecht and then a master’s sustainable entrepreneurship Done. During that period, I came into a lot of contact with sustainable entrepreneurs, and it fascinated me. How can you do something good and make money? Still, it seemed logical to me at the time to work in a bank after graduation. It became Rabobank, where I trained as a finance specialist as a trainee. But entrepreneurship and sustainability continued to fascinate me, and I also noticed that I did not quite fit into such a large company.

“I then went to Kenya. I love African nature, wild travel and seeking adventure. I ended up in a sustainable travel organization that I worked for for six months. Then I spent six months with an NGO that helps farmers get more. “It was really fun, I visited a lot of small farmers.”

The paper industry

“Back in the Netherlands I ran out of money. I found an evening job back at Rabobank: trading on the New York Stock Exchange. During the day I worked on setting up my own company: MOYU, which makes notepads out of stone paper. This one consists of 80 percent stone, residues from marble and lime mines and 20 percent of partially recycled plastic.If you write on it with a special pen and then moisten it, you can erase your notes and recycle the paper.Card paper is a sustainable alternative to products from the mega-polluting paper industry, which costs a lot of water, trees and chemicals.

“Our goal is to establish a new form of paper industry, because it is close to my heart that there is less and less nature left on earth. That is why we also support a tree planting project in Kenya.

“I run MOYU with a partner, and so far we have made a small profit in the two and a half years we have existed. We both get very little money out of the business for ourselves. I can use all my creativity in it, because of course stone paper has many uses. For example, in corona times we have designed a placemat for home workers: on the one hand you can take notes, on the other hand you can play a game.

“It feels really good to do some fat every day. I also often work on the weekends because MOYU does not feel like working. But I am also welcome to take a morning off.”

Small investors

“Even though I put many hours into the company, I am one hundred percent in balance. Sometimes a little less, for example when we work with financing issues. This takes a huge amount of time because you have to talk to a lot of potential investors.

“We are a commercial company, but a company with a history, and it is not immediately clear to every investor. Not everyone understands that we want to plant additional trees. We recently launched a campaign to also attract small investors. Many friends want to help us with their savings, and then an investment feels better to us than borrowing money from them. We need the money for marketing and for expansion to France and Germany. Once these markets are profitable, we want to expand further in Europe.

“In my free time I often go to DJ festivals. I train and walk a lot too. Recently, I discovered bird watching, with binoculars out for bird watching. But it’s still very early, I’ve only done it twice. I also have a busy social life, I meet friends almost every night.

“I’m all alive basic† I do not care about luxury. When I worked in the bank, I had quite a lot of money and bought a lot of things. But that did not make me happier. When I buy something now, it has to be of good quality so it lasts a long time. Furthermore, my house is mainly decorated with used things that I still have from when I started living in rooms. I do not think it is necessary to replace them. I only buy what I really need. Well, and books. About leadership, personal development and sustainability. For example, I find Buddhism interesting. And I find it fascinating to read about the interplay between individuals and society. I also spend money on weekends and on festival visits. ”


“I have doubts about traveling. On the one hand I really like it, on the other hand it is very bad for the environment to fly. I have now agreed with myself that I can get on a plane once per year.In January I went to Kenya to make a documentary about the tree planting project.But recently I had a wedding in Spain and then I flew an extra …

“How do I see my future? In time, I would like to partially replace my leadership position at MOYU with a more creative role. I’m good at coming up with concepts. I would prefer to do that three days a week.

“I think I will work with MOYU for a long time to come. As long as I get energy out of it and create cool things. Yes, the turnaround in my career has been worth a thousand percent.”

During the rush hour, couples and singles tell how they combine work and private life. Take part? Mail to werk@nrc.nl

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