Women on Wings’ business models a source of inspiration

On Friday, March 15, Eneco held an inspirational conference on New Business Models. This spring, a study will be launched in twelve European countries to research the defining traits of new business models, how to give renewed impetus to sustainability and how to find new avenues of collaboration. Maria van der Heijden presented the experiences of Women on Wings to an audience of 80 participants in Rotterdam.

The European study on New Business Models (NBM) is spearheaded by Dr. Jan Jonker, a professor of Sustainable Organization at Radboud University Nijmegen. The purpose of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of new business models that create added value. Read this article (in Dutch) for more information.

Women on Wings developed its very own business model: 50 experts share their experience and knowledge with 18 Indian companies. The experts search for suitable and realistic business models alongside various local parties. They help establish or improve the necessary business infrastructure and supervise or train team members with the ultimate goal of creating as many jobs as possible for women in the immediate surroundings.

The defining characteristics of the Women on Wings business model include connecting parties, establishing a long-term vision and creating exchange value. “We’re offering time and knowledge in exchange for inspiration and skills,” says Maria. “We sometimes refer to it as ‘the business seat on the floor’, a kind of Insead training.”

There are some limitations, especially in a country like India, but Maria sees these as opportunities to improve; a creative stimulus. “You have to think big, be resilient and persevere. We’re also keeping things simple by not using complicated contracts and, instead, making agreements on a sheet of A4. That’s much cheaper and much more effective.  We’re also collaborating with local entrepreneurs, which means stepping out of your comfort zone, learning new markets and keeping an open mind. Celebrate your mistakes and get back to work. And most importantly: follow your heart!”

Photo: Women on Wings’ business model through the eyes of Robert Smit