Female leadership improves Rotterdam entrepreneurial climate

Female leadership improves Rotterdam entrepreneurial climate

ROTTERDAM, 13 April 2022 - Five years ago, Melissa Ablett-Jordaan (36), who is American by birth, launched the American Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Rotterdam. With her experience in building innovation communities in Boston, Miami and Philadelphia, Melissa saw an opportunity to open CIC's first international branch in Rotterdam. She later handed over the reigns to general manager Joyce Kornet-Vreugdenhil (35) who has made inclusion and diversity a top priority.

Female Leadership: Melissa Ablett-Jordaan

To put Rotterdam on the map as an innovation hub, there were significant challenges. The experience she gained in America has helped Melissa put CIC and Rotterdam on the map as an innovation hub. When Melissa successfully completed her assignment, it turned out that the community consisted mainly of men. 
"We came to Rotterdam to support and accelerate the building of the regional innovation ecosystem. That it consisted mainly of men, was a given. For my successor Joyce the challenge was to become more inclusive and diverse in the broadest sense of the words", says Melissa Ablett-Jordaan, former General Manager CIC Rotterdam. 

More than 20% women in 2025

In 2019, Joyce took over the position of General Manager. The challenge to make the business climate more inclusive and diverse took shape. CIC signed a contract from the Social and Economic Council (SER) that set the goal of housing more than 20% women entrepreneurs in its community by 2025. CIC also signed the charter of Diversity in Business, which outlines a detailed diversity plan.
"In Rotterdam, if you mention a woman's first name, everyone knows which company she heads. Women are scarce at the top and that has to change. Our partnerships with parties such as Diversity in Business of the SER, Female Ventures and Voice of All Women must change this. By literally and figuratively giving room to inspirational female-led start-ups, we are contributing to an inclusive Rotterdam ecosystem", says Joyce Kornet-Vreugdenhil.

A better reflection of the city of Rotterdam

Under Joyce's leadership, CIC works on diversity and stimulates inclusive entrepreneurship based on gender, ethnicity and background. The community, which still consists of over 85% male entrepreneurs, focuses on inclusive role models and wants to become an accurate reflection of the city of Rotterdam. Joyce hopes that CIC will become a role model in the field of diversity.

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