Volunteer Rony in the spotlight: “You must be able to handle knockbacks"

"Entrepreneurship is the lever for helping the world to move forward"

Rony Inslegers was Head of Service Departments at C&A until 2004. In 2009, he became a volunteer consultant for CFP, as Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs was called back then. “Our mission is something that I believe strongly in. As time goes on, you’re not just raising funds but offering a real service.”

“I was responsible for the service departments at C&A Belgium: finance, administration, logistics, IT… In fact, all of them apart from HR. When I stopped working, I met Marcel Umans at an Ekonomika Alumni event. He was a volunteer consultant for CFP and he asked me whether that was something I might be interested in doing. I then set out to do some research first of all because I wanted to understand the financial side of the organization. I found everything to be completely in order: a low-cost organization which mainly relies on volunteers. And I immediately clicked with Inge Overmeer who was general secretary at the time. In short, the concept appealed to me and I started to approach companies with NGO projects.”

Wasn’t it difficult going round begging, so to speak?

“It was the first year, I was knocked back many times, for all kinds of reasons. And besides that, I am no salesman. But Marc Despiegelaere of NGO Protos gave us helpful guidance on the world of development cooperators and Jan Flamend of Valueselling gave us selling tips such as make sure that you are able to make smalltalk, listen to your customer and ask questions. Our mission is something I believe strongly in. As time goes on, you’re not just raising funds but offering a real service In any case, the first year was difficult. Fortunately, I had my first success after around seven months, with Atos Worldline.”

Is it important to have a thick address book?

“I had a list of the companies I had got to know during my career. But my colleague – consultant Willy Hendrickx – gave me an invaluable tip: work via “ambassadors”, people who have an extensive network. So I approached Guido Kestens, my former boss at C&A, and he introduced me to his network. In the meantime, I have quite a few driven company directors among my contacts who have also introduced me to their networks. Super!”

Do you spend a lot of time on your voluntary work?

“During the summer months and towards the end of the year, things are quite quiet but the rest of the year on average around two days a week. That involves not only canvassing and going on visits but also all the necessary preparations for these, providing feedback and meeting with colleagues from time to time.”

What satisfaction do you get out of it?

“You’re working with a really good “product”: supporting entrepreneurial projects in the South is the lever for helping the world to move forward. You get to meet lots of interesting people. And when you are told during a visit that a company is going to pledge 10,000 or 20,000 euros, it’s a fantastic feeling!”

Frieda Van Wijck

Perhaps you would like to make a difference in the South too? And do you have a network of companies or commercial qualities? If so, you are the volunteer consultant we are looking for. With your experience, we can make a difference.
Feel free to contact Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs without obligation.