Meet changemaker Geert Verhoeff:

"We are firm believers in the power of small-scale"

The Shore is a brand new surfing school and meeting place that just launched at Scheveningen beach. Sustainability is key to everything they do. They believe our joint future requires all of us to start adopting more sustainable life styles. That’s why they aim to advance the impact economy. We checked in with co-founder Geert Verhoeff to hear more.

“We aim to offer a laid-back mix of sports and culture, combined with a view of the waves and your feet in the sand,” co-founder Geert Verhoeff summarizes their mission temptingly. But that’s not all: sustainability takes center stage in all of The Shore’s business.

“We aim to distinguish The Shore by way of our economic choices. We believe a drastic economic change is needed in order to be able to move towards a truly sustainable society,” Geert explains.

“We perceive a great need for a place like ours on the beach in The Hague. We aim to be approachable, small-scale and accessible to a wide audience – and hope to influence as many people as possible in this way,” he says.

“We need to start living more sustainable lives, all of us. Our future requires it” – Geert Verhoeff, co-founder at The Shore

The Shore, Scheveningen. Credits: Tom Munneke
The Shore, Scheveningen. Credits: Tom Munneke

Determined to advance the impact economy

With the launch of The Shore, Geert has been presented in local media outlets as the embodiment of the new The Hague economy. “I feel like that’s giving me too much credit,” he responds. “As is the case for The Shore, what characterizes all of my projects is that they are materialized in collaboration with tons of determined people. Taking all the credit doesn’t feel right.”

“Nonetheless, we’re grateful that our initiative is being perceived in this way,” he adds. “What’s more, the explicit support of The Hague’s Mayor and Aldermen is great. Ours is a noble-minded effort, so it goes without saying that we’ll gladly take an exemplary role.”

The power of small-scale

“We are firm believers in the power of small-scale initiatives. No matter how small, real change ultimately starts with individuals. A relatively small initiative like The Shore can have a substantial impact. We need to start living more sustainable lives, all of us. Our future requires it,” Geert says.

What the local economy in The Hague needs to move forward, Geert gladly leaves to judge by the city’s leading economists. “What we aim to do is to contribute to making the city energy-neutral in 2040. We believe that we should all be part of this effort,” Geert explains.

Radical change

“Change is needed in order to achieve an energy-neutral city on such short notice,” he extrapolates. “We hope to inspire people by showing them alternative ways of waste separation, energy use, and food use and preparation. We hope visitors bring these experiences home with them and translate them to their daily lives.”

“Awareness that we have to all change our individual lives is now starting to seep through with the larger public. However, to actually make the necessary changes is difficult for many people. We hope we can contribute to making the leap over there a bit less complicated,” Geert explains.

Proactive matchmaking

The Municipality of The Hague has been a meaningful partner to Geert and his partners over the years. “The Municipality has repeatedly shown that it wants to encourage and invest in sustainable development and the impact economy,” he says.

“The municipality has to make an effort to connect relevant parties to each other, proactively,” he summarizes what he believes should be the municipality’s added value. “It is often difficult for individual social entrepreneurs to get a good sense of what their peers are doing. The municipality is perfectly positioned to provide insight into the overall playing field, and to encourage meaningful collaboration.”

Standing out from the crowd

“The Hague can easily distinguish itself, as it’s the only major Dutch city that is located on the seaside. We should make an explicit effort to make this part of our identity,” he argues. “The ocean has so much to offer to the city and the world.” According to Geert, examples like Noordzeeboerderij’s seaweed farming show us the great benefits of being near the water.

The Shore, Scheveningen. Credits: Tom Munneke
The Shore, Scheveningen. Credits: Tom Munneke

Anticipating the future

They are exciting times for the founders of The Shore. The entire initiative was financed by direct crowd funding. That means no existing platform was used to raise the funds. Instead, the funds raised themselves because the project fits its target group like a glove.

A total of 100,000 Euros will have to be repaid to contributors in three to five years’ time. It is their express goal to repay the money they lent as soon as possible and, consequently, to be able to feed themselves and their families from the profit.

“At the end of the day, we still have to find out if our business model is viable. Our profit margins are much lower than those of our average competitor. At the same time, it’s already blatantly clear that many people are looking for a place like ours to go to on the beach.”

Interested to stay up-to-date on The Shore’s developments? Keep an eye on their website or follow them on Facebook.