About me

Anita Keij

In Virunga National Park

My name is Anita Keij and I use this website to share ideas and insights. My key fields of professional interest are: (impact) investing, sustainable development and (business) ethics. “Value@Venture“. Do good and do well. In all aspects of life.

After having worked for many years in commercial and development banking in the Western world and in emerging economies as well as having worked for NGO’s and a Social Enterprise in frontier markets (even in the middle of the Congolese jungle), I believe that true entrepreneurship is the way forward. “True” in the sense of “sustainable” and on “every level” (from the grassroots up to multinationals without forgetting about SMEs). “True” also in the sense that it requires creativity, authenticity and integrity to work on a business case. Developing activities that truly add value to the economy and to society, with respect for the environment. With respect for basic core values. Together with partners (entrepreneurs, banks, financing partners, NGOs, civil society; all possible stakeholders). Looking at a bigger picture, also looking into the future. Be aware of connections and consequences. It is all about caring, daring, sharing. It is key to connect with yourself, your networks and your direct surroundings. Do good and do well. Professionally and personally. Love your work, stay healthy, be close to (your) nature, spend time outdoors, do sports, be playful, be passionate or crazy about things. Below, you’ll find some more professional and personal background information.

 

At the Tschengelsburg

At the Tschengelsburg, South Tyrol

I studied Economics (MSc) and Philosophy (MA) at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and at the Ruprecht Karls Universität in Heidelberg. My student years were eventful with many extracurricular, international activities. I truly enjoyed this period and learned a lot; in the classroom, from the books, while working parttime for the Dutch parliament, during a summer school in Freiburg, on a study trip in Bolivia, together with friends, together with fellow board members of the Economic Faculty Association et cetera, et cetera.

 

After graduation, I spent some additional semesters in academia. Whilst attending courses and teaching students myself, I conducted research in the field of Business Ethics at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and I went to the Hong Kong University for the Postgraduate Corruption Study Programme. My key question was: “What is the difference between a gift and a bribe?”. My field research took place in the financial sector and I moved subsequently into banking in 2004.

 

London

In London

During my time at Rabobank, I amassed experience in several areas of the bank, including Audit and Global Financial Markets. Between 2006 and 2011, I worked at the Loan Syndication desk in London, initially focusing on the leveraged transactions (acquisition finance) and then on the corporate and commodity loan markets. As a loan syndicator I acted in a multi-faceted role combining commercial, financial, structural and legal aspects of a loan transaction in close cooperation with different departments within the bank, parties outside the bank and clients. I operated in a demanding environment with rapidly changing market dynamics (before and during the credit crisis).

 

I worked hard and with pleasure, and then took the chance to apply the knowledge and skills I gained in the financial sector in another context, while broadening my own horizons. During a three month period in the beginning of 2011, I did two projects in Africa. I worked as a trainer for the MicroLoan Foundation (“MLF”) in Malawi (running the pilot of a new course programme developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers for MLF’s credit officers) and I was business consultant at the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Next to finance and administration (a.o. setting up reports for World Bank funds), I was responsible for a field project in Tongo. The acquisition of a plot of land, infrastructure improvements (in cooperation with the MONUSCO – the peacekeeping forces of the UN), chimpanzee habituation and capacity building within the local community (in cooperation with local NGOs) were key achievements. I have always had a wide range of interests and I just love such new challenges.

 

National Geographic Explorer talk

National Geographic – Free Explorer Talk

Upon return to London, I undertook some major transactions for Rabobank. A.o. I jointly arranged the most important soft commodity trade finance facility in Africa at the time: USD 1.75bn for Ghana Cocobod in the summer of 2011. I decided to go back to the DRC in autumn 2011. With great dedication and with a small, but committed local team, I brought the Tongo chimpanzee project to a higher level. We established the structure for eco tourism activities, all set to go, but then the upcoming elections started to cause tensions. I stayed in Virunga (East Congo) till December 2011, but given the deteriorating security situation it was better to leave. I returned to Europe and joined National Geographic in London. I arranged lectures (which I also gave myself), conferences, exhibitions and promotional events on a freelance basis for them. It was a great time, but a desire to combine work in developing countries with my financial skills brought me to the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) in 2013. I joined their loan syndication desk. Super to be back in my original profession. Together with ambitious colleagues and great partners we worked on investments with real impact. Ranging from Bangladesh to Guatemala and from Argentina to Mongolia. Key focus sectors: Financial Institutions, Agriculture and Energy.

 

But then, again, “the call of the jungle” … A new (ad)venture. An enourmous professional and personal challence: I started fulltime as CEO-Consultant at the Virunga Social Enterprise early 2014. Internal organisation and (preparations for) the scale up of (commercial) funding for hydropower projects as well as developing business cases in the fields of agriculture, sustainable fisheries and nature tourism are the main tasks. It is all about sustainable business development/ socio-economic development in the region to support conservation of the magnificent Virunga National Park (a.o. home to the last mountain gorillas) and to support the approximately four million people living in a days walk around the borders of the Park. I fullfill a voluntary advisory role there now and my “Value@Venture” initiative brings me as self-employed colleague to projects at the Erasmus University Rotterdam (Partnership Resource Centre), the University of Innsbruck (Summerschool Climate Change) and the Dutch Development Bank FMO.

Am Arlberg, 2017, Photo by Josef Mallaun Bildagentur

 

On a personal note, I can tell that I love being outdoors. Nature, gardening, sports, games, are crucial for a healthy lifestyle. It refreshes body and mind – young or old, fast or slow. Also here, it is about “Caring, Daring & Sharing”. Care for the environment: nature and wildlife. Care for your own well being and the ones around you. Dare to move, to try something/ somewhere new, to push limits. Share valuable moments with friends, family. Share knowledge and skills. Sharing multiplies!

Snow/ splitboarding and skiing in Austria are favourite activities during the European winter months (I have an Austrian snowboard- and ski-instructor qualification). Hiking, biking and sailing in the summer are fun too. I love to see my family and friends and I like to play around with my SLR camera, gardening (I’ve been impressed by the bees since long, but especially since following a bee keeping course), to read a good book, to write myself (e.g. for the Dutch National Geographic Junior magazine or for HighLife+) or just to do nothing from time to time. Let thoughts flow and watch the world whirr by. I like new ideas, other perspectives, surprises and open dialogues.

 

PhotographyTo finish this section, I’d like to share some links to footage/ short movies I relate to:

 

* Virunga National Park – film “Le Reveil des Virunga”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGK9OOe7cfY

 

* FMO Entrepreneurial Development Bank – FMO towards a better world 2013:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr1eVOyOlMA&list=PLiObtQM0mWNAEY58xq5qorkAqB9sFabpg

 

* Frankfurt Zoological Society – short movie about the Tongo chimpanzee project:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fI_6bm50QjA

 

Please feel free to contact me via anita@anitakeij.net