Edith Zwagerman

Founder’s note

It all started in beautiful Tuscany, at the edge of the pool. With a travel book and iPad under my arm, I walked to my sunbed, eagerly looking for that one local spot that gives your vacation that unique memory. From iPad to travel guide, back to Google… Unfortunately, it turned out to be a search for the well-known needle in a haystack. No unique spots to be found, just the popular tourist spots. Because, well, they had the marketing budgets and the fame to be found. And there, on a sunbed, with a cappuccino, the very first Local Happinez seed was planted. At the pool, the idea arose to build a platform with all those beautiful local spots.

I was delighted with myself and my ‘hunch’ for two weeks. Until I got home and received the remark “That’s nice Edith, but then you make a tourist attraction of those places”. Well, there was certainly something to that and was certainly not the intention.

We jump further in time. I am with a group of friends at Sail Amsterdam, and I see the crowd in front of me. There we are, with thousands on the quay at the IJ. Suddenly I see above each visitor a virtual screen with their expertise, whom they know, how they can help others and what help they need themselves. I wondered, “Suppose you connect people around the world with people who want to share time and expertise. Then we could solve so many local problems as neighbors”. And that’s where the idea of Local Happinez 2.0 was born.

To test all this, I went to Myanmar for a month in 2019. I met with local people who needed expertise in making biogas out of ‘human waste’. Visited people working extremely hard in workshops to reduce the plastic waste problem by making beautiful bags. They sought help in collecting rice bags and other plastic. A local man used all the profits from his guest house to send village children to school. On every street corner, they could use help. And what turns out? In all countries, it turns out that this is the case. Deep-sea diving in the Antilles to extract fishing lines from corals. Cutting down wild-growing shrubs to preserve biodiversity on a ranch in South Africa. 

Helping a Dutch artist to place hundreds of sculptures in a park, each showing a positive message that makes people so enormously happy. People around the world can use help. And everywhere people want to help. It became clear to me. This idea has a chance of succeeding. And it should be possible for everyone to participate. So, we decided to create a social platform to share or help local projects needing helping hands and expertise. And we offer it for free. Then we make no distinction and allow everyone to join.

If you really believe in something, go for it. Stop talking, start acting and proof yourself and everyone else it is possible.

A world where our children and grandchildren can breathe easily, live together and enjoy the world as it is supposed to be.

The idea arose to offer places that can be linked to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. By doing so, we give people the opportunity to make a sustainable contribution. This is how we work together, in a simple way, to create a sustainable society.

And then came Corona. The world went into quarantine. Curfews were instituted, the 1.5-meter society emerged, ICUs were fully occupied. It brought Local Happinez to a standstill for a while, as it did to many other companies and people. 

But we also saw a growing awareness in society that humanity needed to start doing something for the world. This gave us the energy to keep believing in it.

So, we continued. We worked behind the scenes on a legal construction in which Local Happinez is a social enterprise, a non-profit and a profitable business at the same time.
We have chosen to become a steward-owned organization in which the mission always remains secured, and future profits flow back into society. 

This fits with the idea that expertise and time are freely shared.

We are working on a native app that will host thousands of happenings and fellows (members sharing their time and expertise with a local community). We are forging partnerships with companies and non-profits. With a group of volunteers, we build a sustainable organization that will contribute to a better world.

Thank you so much for spending time to read my story. Everything starts with an idea. I sincerely hope you will embark on this journey with us.