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Wieteke Zuure & Nanke den Daas

"When you share everything you move forwards faster"

Nanke Den Daas and her daughters Wieteke and Lonneke Zuure established their impact investment Family Office in 2019. The three women invest, both in funds and directly, in regenerative agriculture and water, inspired by an array of wisdom. In addition, Nanke is the Chairman of Pymwymic's investment committee. Nanke and Wieteke share their impact investing story.

How did you start investing together?

Wieteke: Five years ago, my mother told my sister and me, 'We are going to sell grandpa's companies, so there is going to be some money.' Then she asked us what we wanted to do with it. I was never really involved in the family business or investing. Still, there was always a significant focus on sustainability at home, so my first reaction was: 'We are going to do something good with this money!' This started our journey of discovery. 

Nanke: When the money became available to us, I realised I wanted to involve my children in the next steps. I wanted to proceed together.

And impact?

W: After we decided to invest the money, I came to understand that I first had to learn about finance in general, to which I honestly always had a bit of an aversion. But then I met Maarten from Pymwymic, whose way of thinking immediately inspired me. After a couple of PYM gatherings, I realised there are actually lots of wonderful people in the finance world who want to do something good with their money! The three of us then began setting up our impact portfolio. 

What was your background, and how do you use this for your impact work today?

N: I trained as a veterinarian and worked in R&D for the cattle industry for many years. So I have a technical background. I also had financial and managerial roles in the family business in the recreational sector, particularly marinas. There I learned a lot about water, which showed me how much this needed to be a focus area going forward. 'SeaQurrent' became our very first investment. SeaQurrent is a new type of hydropower that uses the tide instead of height differences. They are now conducting their first tests on the Dutch island of Ameland.

W: I am a trained biologist, so I naturally think in 'ecosystems'. I think the world's biggest problems come from a disconnect between nature and humans. We often believe we are above nature, which is rather silly considering we are animals ourselves. Changing the food system is where it all comes together for me: where we can (re)connect with nature.

And what are the differences between your background and impact investing?

W: First of all, experiments give quick results in biology, while impact investing has a long horizon. Also, the community is very different. When I got my PhD, I discovered how little scientists work together. Everyone is so busy guaranteeing their own funding. The impact community is much more open. This became very apparent to me when I started participating in Next Gen programs such as the one from CSP, where I gained essential knowledge and connected with peers with whom I could talk in a safe space about inheriting money. 

N: I was surprised to come across something like PYM; the number of ideas shared there is very valuable and unique.

What does multi-generational impact investing look like in your case?

W: It unites us. Of course things have to be done, but we always ensure there is time for the person. This mission also ensures that the three of us spend time together. And we wouldn't have had that otherwise.

N: I think it is important that if you take a step like this together, that you all have different life experiences and are already independent. Only then can you really talk to each other as individuals with your own ideas and opinions.

What was your greatest success so far?

N: I always want to know what is happening everywhere, so success is about learning, not results. I think this is an important starting point when building a portfolio. 

W: For me, it's the investment, through Toniic, in New Foundation Farms, a company in the UK that wants to create a food hub to help farmers working regeneratively. I suggested them myself, and for me the success is in that I dared to do this with my new knowledge. 

How did you experience the PYM Impact Days this year?

W: It was my first time, and I really liked the focus on the feminine without vilifying the masculine. There was a sense of balance. 

N: We went to Family Day on Sunday and Impact Action Day on Monday. I appreciated how much attention was given to learning from cultures closer to nature, such as the shaman from Greenland. When I obtained my PhD in the 1990s, I was already exploring our lack of appreciation for such essential wisdom. We are still not referring to it as much as we should. 

What would you advise young/starting impact investors or families who want to embark on this new path together?

W: Keep having open conversations and keep listening. See this step as an opportunity for everyone. 

N: You are allowed to make mistakes, and so are others. Everyone learns the most from mistakes. 

W & N: The more independent you are, the easier and more productive your conversations will be.

What are some of your favourite books for inspiration?

N: 'The Curse of the Emergency Muscat' -  by Amitav Ghosh and 'The Risks of Thinking - The Meeting between Indian Spirituality and Technology' by Jaap Breeveld.

W: 'An Immense World - How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us' by Ed Yong. 'The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible' by Charles Eisenstein, 'The Soul of Money - Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life' by Lynne Twist and 'Braiding Sweetgrass' by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Which family values ​​are reflected in your impact investing?

N: In my family, growing up, perseverance was always a virtue. Now, I think independence, curiosity, and supportive leadership help others develop.

W: Perseverance has become less important for us as we try to embrace more gentleness. Curiosity and supporting others are and always will remain essential family values. 

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