MBA Applicant Voice: This Female Social Entrepreneur Is Seeking A Part-Time MBA In Europe

Erica van Engel founded a consulting firm that empowers female entrepreneurs

Erica van Engel’s mission is to help women succeed in social entrepreneurship. She founded Differeve, a management consulting firm specializing in empowering female entrepreneurs. Erica also sits on the regional advisory board (South-West) of the Dutch chamber of commerce.

With an MBA, Erica aims to take her career even further. She’s considering part-time MBA programs in the Netherlands, at Business School Netherlands and IBO Business School in particular.

Previously, Erica started-up her own internship agency, Stageloket, which matches Dutch students with organizations in Suriname, her country of origin, in South America.

This was the basis for a career in social entrepreneurship and coaching others who want to start their own social enterprise. 

What do you hope to gain from an MBA?

I want to broaden my skills, knowledge and business network. With an MBA I can do more challenging consultancy jobs and be of higher value.

What are your future career plans?

I’m aiming for executive-level jobs with a special focus on the power of female social entrepreneurship. For instance, as a chief impact manager of a corporate foundation for a luxury or fashion brand.

Or I would like to publish [work] on this topic and influence governmental policies on a national, European and international level.

What are the most important factors to you when choosing a business school?

As a single mum and the main breadwinner, a full-time MBA is a bit of a problem. I’m looking for a part-time program, preferably in the Netherlands.

Scholarships would be very nice. In the past the Business School Netherlandse provided in a special scholarship for women and they have a payment plan for selfemlpoyed. Last but not least, I hope to find a business school that pays attention to diversity in gender and generations. 

Which scholarships have stood out for you?

The Business School Netherlands has a scholarship for women and a payment plan for the self-employed.

Would you consider an online MBA?

I love online learning because you can take classes when you want to. But I would prefer blended learning, because I would also like to meet the lecturers and other students face-to-face.

What was it like setting up your own business, Stageloket?

I don’t believe in traditional development aid. The initiative arose from the conviction that knowledge contributes more to developing countries than giving money.

Our advocacy for Suriname led to around 1,000 Dutch students choosing internships there. This resulted not only in the transfer of knowledge and [a] workforce, but also millions of dollars per year in income for local tourism and retail industries, and for local citizens who rented out their houses to the students. For me, this was proof that you can brand your belief and turn your purpose into a profitable product.

What advice would you have for MBA students looking to start a social enterprise?

Make your own money. Look for a for-profit business model, because it’s more sustainable than non-profit models, where you depend on funds and grants. 

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