Local Goal Getter Toos Hofstede: busy bee with sustainability as a guideline

In our search for Local Goal Getters’ we met with Toos Hofstede today. Together with her partner, she runs the strategic communication agency Viastory. As a very young mother, she simultaneously studies Communication Sciences and Business Administration at the University of Twente. In Communication Science she gains her first scientific insights into the do’s and don’ts in conveying a message. In Business Administration she learns to apply theoretical insights in practice. During that training process, however, she missed an ethical foundation. Therefore, Toos decided to focus on Corporate Social Responsibility in her graduation research. In her thesis she shows companies that implement sustainability through to their core process, perform better economically, ecologically and socially, and are also more innovative. From that moment on, the concept of “sustainability” definitely conquered a place in her life.

Authenticity and sustainability

The first employer in which Toos puts her insights into practice is the Gulpener brewery, the sustainable beer brand in the Netherlands. Gulpener is the perfect example of a company that not only tells a sustainable story, but actually carries through in all areas of the company. Through authentic communication that reflects the true identity of the family brewery, this beer brand conquers the hearts of many consumers. She has been working there for 5 years and has been a partner at Viastory Creative Agency since 2014. Here, too, authenticity and social responsibility are the two keywords in everything Toos thinks and does. Sustainable storytelling is the foundation of her work. Much attention is paid to getting to know the customer before developing a sustainable communication strategy. Part of this strategy is the position that the customer takes in the market, but also in society. According to Toos, entrepreneurship is by definition a social activity and therefore all Viastory customers are questioned about their sustainability ambitions.

Viastory as B Corp

With Viastory, Toos and her partner focus on two goals. On the one hand, they want to achieve a positive return with the company to generate the necessary income. On the other hand, they strive for a positive impact on the environment and society in all their activities. Based on these two objectives, they obtained the prestigious B Corp certification in December 2020. In this way, Viastory and other Benefit Corporations are pushing the economy towards inclusion and sustainability.

Earth Ambassadors

In addition to her professional activities, Toos is also committed to several social and sustainable initiatives. For example, together with Viastory she is the founder of the community “Earth Ambassadors”. Our Local Goal Getter realizes that Earth’s challenges cannot be solved alone. That is why partnerships and collaborations between people and companies are high on her agenda. (SDG # 17). Together with other ambassadors, she is building a network of like-minded people in which sustainability is central. They organize meet-ups and Earth Talks to increase awareness and accelerate innovations for a future-proof society. During these “Earth Talks”, the guests will receive insights from people with very diverse backgrounds, from a sustainable chicken farmer to a climate journalist and a polar explorer. From a lecture on “the forest as a sustainable superhero”, a concrete plan was presented to Hubert Mackus, the former deputy of the province of Limburg. This plan aims to plant two million trees. On LinkedIn you can join the community. (SDG # 4)

Freedom meal

For some people, the day turns out to be longer than twenty-four hours. Because in addition to all the previous activities, At the request of the National Committee on 4 and 5 May, Toos became the quartermaster of the freedom meal in Limburg. In the past, the term liberation was more related to the Second World War. These days, freedom is more about embracing and including diversity. During the Freedom meals, guests are invited to talk about historical and social themes that are not often addressed in daily life. During the recent digital Freedom meal, a lecture was given by Abbie Chalgoum, a Dutchman of Moroccan descent. Because of his background, this man had ended up in an identity crisis. After all, he was not regarded as a fully-fledged Dutchman, but by Moroccans he was seen as a ‘fake’ Moroccan. His story about freedom was mainly about his quest to really be himself. (SDG # 10)

 Maas Cleanup

With the Viastory office located next to the Maas, it is difficult for our Local Goal Getter to ignore the river. That is why she committed herself to the Maas, with her company as a founding partner. Under the motto “Clean River, Better Business”, many companies have joined forces with NGOs and volunteers to combat river pollution. Every year, thousands of volunteers roll up their sleeves to clean up dumped waste all over the strip between Eijsden and Mokerhei. On Saturday, September 18, which is “World Cleanup Day”, the next clean-up action is planned where every citizen can help. In addition to clean-up actions, the partners are also working on structural solutions, such as making business operations more sustainable and combating single-use plastic. You can read more about this on the website of maascleanup.nl/partners. With the ‘Maas in de Wet’ petition, the partners hope to convince politicians in The Hague to grant rights to the river Maas. The petition will be presented to the King and the House of Representatives in the autumn. When the fundamental rights of the Maas are recognized, these will be more enforceable and enforceable. (SDG # 14, # 16).

Full agenda devoted to sustainability

Factually, Toos’ spectrum of activities can be linked to all sustainable development goals. Within our one hour of conversation we did not have enough space to discuss everything. Her full schedule speaks volumes. But from our conversation, we can say with certainty that everything Toos does revolves around sustainability. Creating a sustainable impact is the engine of her existence. You can’t stop talking with the eloquent and passionate Toos. Those interested in a general overview of her activities can visit the Viastory.com website. Moreover, you will find numerous opportunities there to actively participate as a volunteer. After all, the responsibility for a better world lies in our own hands. People like Toos give us hope, and that hope stimulates us to live responsibly.

Author: Anna Hermans

Editor: Jennifer Timmmermans

Pictures: Jennifer Timmermans