- Founder and owner of Aanstrekelijk, the platform for regional products from Twente
- Koen’s mission is making the food chain in Twente as short as possible.
This article is part of a series called “Twente Leeft!” (Twente Lives!). You can read personal stories here about living and working in Twente. Twente is a nice place to be, according to the talents we meet. The beautiful nature, space, the down-to-earth mentality; they all characterise Twente. There are also plenty of career opportunities! Twente has many innovative, international and future-proof companies that are desperate for staff. Want to know what Twente has to offer? You can find Koen Olde Hanter’s story below.
Koen was born and raised in De Lutte. “That’s Twente at it’s very best”, he says. He did leave Twente for a while when he was a student because he went to study Environmental and Social Sciences in Nijmegen. He always came back home in the weekends for his friends, family and Twente. Because Twente is where he feels truly at home, he returned to Twente almost immediately after and started looking for a ‘real job’.
He found this ‘real job’ in Apeldoorn and commuted to work daily for two years. But his office job did not make him happy, even though the working conditions were perfect. He would have a big smile on his face as soon as he passed Deventer on his way back from work. Almost back in Twente! He decided to quit his job and think about what he wanted.
He mainly focused on the environment's social side during his studies, and Koen wanted to work with that. However, he could not find his dream job, so he decided to start working independently. Koen: “My father is an entrepreneur as well, so why shouldn’t I be able to? Regional food crossed my path, too, right when I was thinking about that. Aanstreekelijk was born not much later.”
“Twente is all about doing and taking action, and that’s the only way to achieve what you want as far as I’m concerned. That is why I like working, living and doing business in Twente so much; everything suits me.”
Aanstreekelijk has shops in Oldenzaal, Delden and Rotterdam, and they are a stage on which farmers can shine. Koen’s mission is making the food chain in Twente as short as possible by bringing regional consumers and products from farmers in Twente together. This means less emission of harmful substances, knowing what you eat and supporting agriculture in the region. It benefits the environment, consumers and farmers alike, in other words.
Regional products are an afterthought in a lot of places, and they are mostly gift articles. There is nothing wrong with that in itself; we also sell these gift packages. But we also sell everyday groceries such as dairy products, vegetables and meat. We work with almost 45 producers in the region. I know them all personally, and I have visited their businesses. That is very important to convey their story and enthusiasm to the customers as well.”
The shops are part of a bigger plan. Koen is also working on a sustainable infrastructure to distribute and sell regionally produced food in Twente.
Koen has great ambitions. “My ambition is that local food becomes the standard. I hope we move towards a society where we look at what the region has before we look elsewhere. That does not only apply to individuals; it also applies to governments and hospitals, for example.”
“I would like to see bigger parties choosing local food. That people stand up and say: we choose this because we believe in it.”
“Twente heeft echt een geest van doen en aanpakken, wat mij betreft kun je alleen dan bereiken wat je graag wilt bereiken. Juist daarom bevalt werken, wonen en ondernemen in Twente mij zo goed; op alle vlakken.”
“Highly educated people don’t often start a company for themselves, but I can recommend it to anyone, especially in Twente. How we handle things here, how we cooperate and how almost everything is organised without commotion is very special! I often have ideas that I would like to talk about with other parties in the neighbourhood. I have never immediately received no as an answer. We will always find out how we can do it, in Twente, and we can always say no afterwards. I think that is such a beautiful mentality. We are truly there for each other in Twente.
Twente is all about doing and taking action, and that’s the only way to achieve what you want as far as I’m concerned. That is why I like working, living and doing business in Twente so much; everything suits me. The things I do with my company directly affect the environment. I don’t work in a place where I am a part of a much larger system; I can immediately see who I’ve helped. That connection is wonderful, and it is one of the things that makes Twente so great.”
“Twente has a lot of beautiful things to offer. I’ve lived here all my life, but I still discover places I’ve never seen or heard of. Not just at work, but also in my spare time. I keep coming to new places that I did not know before. That’s what makes Twente so beautiful and ever-surprising. I am incredibly proud of this region.
I have a lot of contact with customers and tourists in the shops, and that has shown me how the mentality in Twente is. The tourists in shops always say two things: the surroundings are so beautiful, green and quiet, among other things. But also that the people in Twente are so kind and friendly. It is quite normal for us to greet other people, but that is exceptional for tourists.
The people from Twente should be a little prouder of Twente in that respect, and speak up about it. We are quite sober and like taking action more than talking. Many great initiatives are set up and implemented here, but we are too quiet about it when everything is finished. We can gain a lot from it, though: let’s all keep talking about how beautiful Twente is!”