Spotlight: Meet the Change-maker Keeping Amsterdam Inclusive

James Veenhoff is arguably one of Amsterdam’s most well-known entrepreneurs. Born and bred in the city’s West, his career spans strategy, fashion and social impact. 

His vision?

“We all have a responsibility to make a positive impact, and I believe enterprise can be part of the solution.”

James is one of the founders of Amsterdam International Fashion Week and in 2009, he co-founded House of Denim, a training institute for designers and developers.

House of Denim has exceeded expectations and gone on to spur a range of initiatives including a bi-annual event, Amsterdam Denim Days, and cross-sector efforts to clean up the industry.

A recent Forbes article refers to The Netherlands as a world leader in sustainable denim and to James’ credit, he is identified as the movement’s instigator.

Like all entrepreneurs, fighting a cause and setting it into action, James has expanded his focus. Today, as well as leading strategy firm Fronteer, his title on LinkedIn reads “Industry Challenger” for Nexterdam.

The inspiration for Nexterdam was spurred from a conversation with Fuat Gozacan, a colleague and friend, who moved to the city when the political situation changed in Turkey.

With prices in Amsterdam soaring and many forced to leave, together they are working to ensure the city remains affordable and inclusive. Its mission states that “the current system of government policy and market dynamics is leaving newcomers out in the cold.”

“Rules, regulations and complexity mean that developers are not incentivized to build affordable homes.”

The solution?

Nexterdam proposes that “transitioning from individual ownership to collective use is the basis for many new solutions.” While the project is yet to launch, it’s vision is inspiring.

PHOTO © 2015 TEAM PETER STIGTER  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY - WITH CREDITS
© 2015 Peter Stigter – James with the late Amsterdam Mayor, Eberhard van der Laan

“I felt connected to late mayor; he was a great inspiration to me. I now feel we are now lacking visionary leadership and an invitation to co-create a better future.”

His strong imagination has led James to carve his own path. That, he says, and “a refusal to put me time and energy into actions that don’t lead to positive change.”

In a book titled The Outsiders, he says:

“If you’re not giving something back, you’re not an Amsterdammer.”

Seeing opportunities in complex problems provides fruitful inspiration for this change-maker, and he can be proud to walk the talk.

Stay posted for updates on Nexterdam here.