Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am Cynthia Smeets, 24 years old and I live and work in Heerlen. In the past I have lived in Breda and Amsterdam, but feel most at home in the south. I have studied Social innovation in Breda at Performatory.
I love to work with complex and difficult societal questions, and we have them a lot nowadays! That is also why I founded my company Studio Walden, a company where we do research, and come up with new sustainable solutions for societal problems in Limburg. We focus our projects one three big societal themes: government: where we mostly work on the relationship between citizen and the government like social cohesion and participation.
Education: in which we stimulate the co-creative development of education where young people can develop themselves.
Healthcare: being better old and better young in a shrinking and aging area.
What would you consider your distinctive achievement?
I find important to show and share data with other people, so they can learn from us, and each other too. I don’t like competition, because I don’t believe in it. We want to establish a better future for people and planet and also earn some with it to pay the bills. We are distinctive because we have an empathic view and believe in the strength of people. We always try to work with different partners varying from citizens to people with a certain expertise needed to complete an assignment, all in co-creation. I am glad we finally found our core business; it’s always a travel. Besides that I am glad we can show some great examples of what we do on our website.
What are the qualities needed to be able to achieve this?
The biggest quality you need in order to achieve co-creation, is determination and understanding the world and people’s different perspectives on societal questions, being able not to judge and invite people from their own qualities. Dare to do something different and try not to get carried away with ‘the way things go’, question yourself from time to time: ” Am I still on the right path?”
What are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to grow the company. Not too big, since our motto is: “being big, by staying small”. We also want to find new partners to work on more complex problems and creating solutions that benefit all stakeholders in the process. I also want to do more with female entrepreneurship in the region Limburg.
Which advise will you give to other professionals?
Do not work from your client’s perspective but from the clients of your client’s perspective.
What are the challenges that we need to overcome to make ‘cultural entrepreneurship’ more accessible?
It depends on how you see cultural entrepreneurship, I would say stimulation programs that not simply give money but support young entrepreneurs by coaching them. Also combine cultural entrepreneurship with social entrepreneurship and highlight female entrepreneurship. Still we face a minority of woman at the top. We (freelance) also lack the proper skills, no one teaches you how to be a good entrepreneur. To make it more accessible, we need to break traditional thinking.