Today we enter the last week in our countdown towards the Grand Finale of the WDCD Refugee Challenge. Next to a final series of pitch presentations by the 5 challenge finalists, the programme will also include talks by two inspiring special guests: Goof van Dormolen (Dutch Council for Refugees) and Willemijn Verloop (Social Enterprise NL).

Together they represent more than 40 years of combined experience in the humanitarian sector, and both will join us on Tuesday 7 March to give their vision on the topic of social activism and innovation.


First up on the programme is Operations Manager of the Dutch Council for Refugees, Goof van Dormolen. He began his career in post-war Nicaragua and El Salvador, where his work on sanitation, healthcare and housing projects brought him in close contact with many internally displaced persons and refugees. Influenced by his experiences there, he returned to the Netherlands and joined the Dutch Council for Refugees (DCR), an independent organization which defends refugees’ rights to a fair and full asylum procedure.

As keynote speaker van Dormolen will share his insight and experience on the role creatives can play in the housing and integration of refugees. Of this he says: ‘Normally when people talk about refugees, you hear about NGO’s, legal specialists or noisy politicians. I’m convinced that designers can contribute positively to this debate.’


Our second speaker, Willemijn Verloop, is perhaps best known as the founder of international aid agency War Child. Conceived in 1994, the organisation’s main mission is to bring psychosocial aid to children affected by war. Under Verloop’s innovative leadership War Child has since grown to become one of the best known non-profit organisations in the Netherlands, reaching a total of 1.8 million children and 1.7 million adults a year in 11 countries affected by armed conflict.

Today Verloop continues her pursuit of social justice as co-director and founder of Social Enterprise NL, a platform dedicated to supporting the development of the Dutch social enterprise sector. Speaking about her motivation behind the project she explains: ‘In my 15 years as director of War Child I saw that more entrepreneurship was needed to bring about more innovative solutions. I believe in the potential of social entrepreneurs. I also believe that there are other economic models worth exploring where profit isn’t measured in money but in social impact.’

Intrigued? At our Grand Finale event Verloop will be interviewed by journalist Tracy Metz on this topic and it’s impact on the problems faced by refugees. Throughout the day we will also be joined by Corinne Gray (UNHCR), Joost Alferink (3D About Me), Mathijs Koper (World Startup Factory) and Raphael Nouwen (Triodos), who make up our panel of experts and who will be on hand to provide feedback and discuss plans with our 5 challenge finalists.

See the entire programme here.


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