It’s been years since Miranda Willems and Elien van Riet met at the Impact Hub. Since then, the two have not only become friends, they also founded a business together called Urban Tribes.
The idea of the business was designed by Elien van Riet during a Theory U training. Shortly after, Elien visited the Aboriginals in Australia and the Caboclos natives in the Brazilian Amazone to meet up with Miranda and further develop the concept. Since then, they have managed to firmly establish themselves as community builders in the Amsterdam region and are now opting to go global. With this goal in mind, they are joining the 60-Day Challenge program. I had a chat with Miranda and Elien to find out more about their ambitions.
Can you tell about the why & how of Urban Tribes?
Miranda: ‘Well, Urban Tribes is first and foremost a platform designed to restore and resource human values in urban environments. Premised on the values of indigenous tribes, we aim to reinstall human and ecological values into the urban domain. We believe human interaction is key to businesses and communities.’
Elien: ‘We look at contemporary urban communities as being tribes. By looking at communities as tribes, you discover that we have more in common than we think we do. We are all humans and work by natural habits such as collective rituals, symbols and engagement. More practically, this means creating an urban tribal strategy for community development in urban areas.’
What are you hoping to get out of the 60-Day Challenge?
Miranda: ‘We aim to get a better understanding of how we can build our platform and take it to the next level by moving from a regional platform to an international one. So, how can we install the proper infrastructure to expand into a global network, and thus create content that can be shared by everyone? Alongside this we have another goal: to develop a solid business model so we can start the up-scaling process and ultimately, realise a thriving global social innovation platform. That said, the main reason why we signed up in the first place is to take proper time to validate and test our ambitions. This is really important to us.’
Elien: ‘On my travels I discovered the vulnerability of indigenous tribes. Very often, elementary needs such as land and language are taken away from. How can we create a dialogue between indigenous and urban tribes that serve both worlds? How can we co-create a platform together with our existing partners in Australia, Brazil, and Canada, as well as our future partners in Nigeria, Japan and other countries? By participating in the 60-Day Challenge and using canvas-software, I hope to expand it into an international platform.
What do you hope the outcome will be after these 60 days?
Miranda: ‘It would be great if by then our prototype is tested, approved and thus ready to operate. Indeed, international implementation with Urban Tribes is our goal, but what lies underneath is what really drives us. By restoring intrinsic human values, be it through Art of Hosting, Collective Engagement or Collective Action, you can really invigorate enterprises and the people involved in it.’
Elien: ‘To officially launch urban-tribes.net and contribute to a global movement that will restore our sense of belonging, not just to each other but also to our beloved planet.’
– Claire van den Berg