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Challenging the status quo


Han Hendriks is an entrepreneur in the field of “Co-creating Social Enterprises” and is the founder of We Beat the Mountain: beating the global mountain of waste by designing, producing and selling products made from recycled materials.

The underlying philosophy is ‘design follows material’ instead of the current status quo ‘material follows design’; using waste to make nice things that people want. I prepare for our conversation and, like any good journalist – as Han would later say – I try to find the angle in his story. My thoughts are: “Sustainability; it must be a marketing trick to be able to earn money.” What a surprising conversation it turns out to be!

What drives you? 
            People should be ashamed of themselves, for all they leave behind”
“Two daughters and concerns about a world that is slowly filling up with waste; we need a fundamental change.” This anger and astonishment at what he sees encourages him to redefine existing boundaries, his greater goal is so strong. The more people shout that it won’t work, the more it encourages Han to make sure that it does work. Not being able to do something is doing it. This is what gives him pride; the kick to show that it can be done.

What is your strength? 
            Knowing precisely what you can’t do.”
Han calls himself a simultaneous entrepreneur; the combination of intellect and action. He does what he believes in and helps others to believe as well. He shows that they can do it themselves too, and helps them take the next step, actually the essence of teaching people to stretch. “Making something out of nothing” and then bringing together inspiring and fun people who are better than he is. “This is the leadership of the future: openness, vulnerability, creating connections, and – above all – accepting that a lot of people are better at things than you are. The next stretch moment will be how we introduce “we beat the mountain day” to every continent” – he is still looking for people. His strength makes him less manageable sometimes, because the goal has to be achieved. There is no room for distraction by grumblers.

What is the entrepreneurship of the future?
“Entrepreneurs will become network orchestrators, a small group of people who set a whole social movement in motion, and become part of a larger movement. This requires the sincerity to want to achieve something (to turn a social problem into something positive) and to want to help each other to get things going. Business cases are complete nonsense, because you can influence all assumptions yourself. It is about the emotion. Your desire is your strength.”
The crux is to challenge the status quo, which is once again the basis for his next project. His mother passed away last year, and he spent many years visiting nursing homes, with deep respect for the people who work there. It is time for more entrepreneurship in healthcare: a new care company (with a focus on the person), worry-free care from A to Z, the best treatment, in cooperation with insurers and care institutions.

In what society are we living?
“The Dutch need to learn that taking a positive view can also be promising. We get carried away with that one exception, and then heavily criticize the whole thing. But nobody’s holier than the pope. The government responds to this by being pedantic, entrepreneurs emphasize what really is possible, the experience. Financial security is the fear that gets in the way for many people, but it may also be what people latch onto. In the end, the solution is a matter of going ahead and doing things, and surrounding yourself with the right people and encouraging them to make the most of themselves.”

As we left, he got into his Jeep to drive away. He saw my surprised expression and shouted “…it runs on green gas… Challenging the status quo!”

Martijn Creemers, Program Director (  

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