Similar dreams can bridge fundamental differences and … connect two different worlds

Re-story and ImpactBuilders both understand businesses are an important actor in our journeys to create impact. However, our approaches are fundamentally different. Nevertheless, since we have similar dreams, we do feel connected and get inspired by the other party’s approach and activities.  

A few years ago, Mischa Verheyden (l) and Geert Degrande came over to ImpactBuilders for a chat and a lunch. They were on a crowdfunding tour to raise funds for a new journalistic association. They wanted to write alternative stories, and inspire people to think differently. “I had sympathy for their ‘Re-story’ concept, and suggested they should create a cooperative organisation, rather than merely counting on the sympathy of fans while collecting money,” remembers Jan Lagast (m). “I had no clue my idea was the final push they needed to actually create such a cooperative organisation”. In the meantime, some months and years have passed, Elke Leyman (r) became the backbone of the operations, and this year Re-story CV holds its first annual general assembly. High time to get together and see how their project has evolved.

From inspiring messages to a community that connects people

The initial Re-story idea has evolved from writing stories, books, and online content to connecting people with a similar mindset. With 106 cooperative partners and a community of 92 members, they trigger a growing audience of individuals who want to disrupt themselves, and inspire both their private networks and their work environment. “We are gradually evolving to becoming a community of like-minded people who believe we need a different society,” explains Mischa. “We are now trying to activate our community, so as to create more and more connections among themselves, and start a movement that can outgrow our own efforts.”

We are very different, yet we have similar dreams

In the same period, ImpactBuilders also went on a journey to finding its purpose and strategy. “We want to introduce a new business DNA in Europe,” explains Jan. “We build thriving ventures for our own impact investment funds, and re-vive the portfolio companies from institutional investors. In order for our message to resonate with those financially-driven professionals, we make it clear that we are in the business of making money. However, we have a different, more people-centric approach. We ensure collaborators and clients feel they are respected, and such an approach does make money in the end.” 

“At first, Jan’s info deck did not make me feel very enthusiastic,” remembers Elke. “But, although there is a huge gap between the Re-story organisation and the ImpactBuilders strategy, our dreams are similar. We both want to create a new society, in which businesses are crucial actors.” The way forward is very different, though, and yet that was maybe the main reason why our afternoon coffee was very interesting and inspiring. “You cannot own a dream. You can only share the dream, and welcome people that resonate with your dream,” adds Jan. “We don’t know what activity we could be doing together,” says Elke, “but we will definitely have more of these afternoon talks to inspire each other. And that in itself was already of great value.”