ImpactCity is proud to announce Startup Solutions for Sint Maarten, an initiative that was just launched by StartupDelta special envoy Constantijn Van Oranje and Vice-Chief of Defence Martin Wijnen at Impact Startup Fest. They call on startups to contribute to accelerated recovery of the island of Sint Maarten after the disastrous effects of Hurricane Irma earlier this month. It’s the first initiative of its scale worldwide and we are eager to receive smart startup solutions for the arduous task ahead.
Early September, Hurricane Irma raided the Caribbean. As one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, it struck the region with winds of 225 miles per hour, killing dozens and causing unprecedented destruction. One of the hardest-hit places, Dutch paradise island Sint Maarten, was turned into a disaster zone. Disaster relief efforts are now pouring in, but a slow and arduous recovery lies ahead.
Startup Solutions for Sint Maarten
Constantijn Van Oranje, special envoy at StartupDelta, just announced Startup Solutions for Sint Maarten at the The Hague-based Impact Startup Fest. The initiators invite startups to share their expertise and smart solutions to contribute to the recovery of the island, in close cooperation with organizations that are active on the ground as well as the local affected population.
Flyers requesting suggestions and concepts have been distributed at all locations of the nationwide StartupFest Europe festival and have been sent to business accelerators around the country. StartupDelta will preselect useful proposals and will then go on to encourage the startups involved to operationalize their ideas in close collaboration with the local population.
“The real voyage of discovery is in having new eyes. If we keep this in mind, the promise of international humanitarian relief is infinite” – Mariken Gaanderse, Impact Startup Fest organizer
Honored and excited
“The focus of this year’s festival, ‘Global challenges, startup solutions’, fits this initiative like a glove,” The Hague-based Impact Startup Fest organizer Mariken Gaanderse says. “Today, we are welcoming a great number of impact startups in the City of The Hague. They are working on innovations for people and planet and understand that humanitarian intervention is never a quick fix. Instead, it requires fundamentally new ways of collaboration, in which technology represents just one of the drivers of change.”
“We feel honored and excited to host the launch of Startup Solutions for Sint Maarten today. The City of The Hague represents a unique hub that connects startups and governments, international businesses, research centers, and thousands of creative entrepreneurs. The Hague, as international city of peace and justice, works on social and global challenges and builds solutions that work, every day and in many ways,” she explains.
“Startup Solutions for Sint Maarten fits right into our The Hague ecosystem,” she adds. “If we combine our bright minds with our creative hands, and with the purpose that comes from our hearts, together we can create the conditions for meaningful support for the island of Sint Maarten to come into being.”
Collaboration is imperative
Mariken warns about one of the classic pitfalls in emergency aid, “We have to beware not to work in isolation. It is imperative that we collaborate with organizations that are locally rooted. We need them to tell us what is needed. We need to make sure to be demand-driven”.
She references Proust in this light, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” She emphasizes that, when we manage to look at a particular challenge from different perspectives and backgrounds, we can come up with altogether new insights and solutions.
Local needs first
“If we keep this in mind, the promise of international humanitarian relief is infinite,” she says. “Impact startups are often developing new and innovative ways to organize themselves and their activities. As such, they are in a position to address local needs more efficiently and effectively. They have the flexibility to alter the way we create, collaborate, learn, and mobilize, while putting local needs first.”
“More and more stakeholders can now take part in programs and services to serve the affected population,” she adds. “This leads to both an urge to adapt, as well as an opportunity to improve and expand. If we embrace collaboration, our efforts will have more impact, will be more inclusive, will empower, and will make unheard voices heard.”
Smart startups solutions
Constantijn Van Oranje explains, “Startups can meaningfully contribute to the big challenges that lie ahead in the process of recovery. What’s more, they are perfectly positioned to help organize the recovery efforts more effectively. We are keen to expose the smart solutions that startups have to offer. At all events of the nationwide StartupFest Europe this week, we will dwell on Sint Maarten and encourage startups to come up with ideas and offer their help.”
Startup Solutions for Sint Maarten is a joint effort of StartupDelta, the Dutch National Coordinator for Reconstruction, the Netherlands Red Cross, and the Dutch Ministry of Defence. A number of organizations that specialize in innovative humanitarian aid are closely involved, such as Open House, the Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation, and ImpactCity.