Alumnus of the year
Laurien Meuter, Alumnus of the Year 2020
The University of Groningen has awarded Laurien Meuter the title of Alumnus of the Year 2020 for the impressive way in which she supports women and their families in the poorest slums of Mumbai. Meuter’s Tiny Miracles Foundation aims to permanently lift one million people out of poverty. Laurien Meuter will receive her award during the Opening of the Academic Year on 6 September. The prize is an expression of both appreciation and encouragement.
Laurien Meuter graduated in Economics and Corporate Finance in 2001 and subsequently spent many years working as a banker in the Zuidas financial district. However, she changed course when she spent a year working in Mumbai, where was touched by the extreme poverty and degrading circumstances that street children were living in. In 2010, she established the Tiny Miracles Foundation.
Tiny Miracles focuses not only on individuals but on the entire community. The foundation aims to give the poorest of the poor a chance to a better future, working on the basis of equality and paying attention to all the aspects that may help to break the vicious circle of poverty. Simply giving money is not the way to significantly change these people’s situations. The women work four days a week but are paid for six days. They spend the other two days developing themselves and learning about a range of topics, varying from education and healthcare to their own position in society.
Laurien Meuter is ambitious: she wants to permanently lift one million people out of poverty – a major aim that can only be achieved with a major approach. She found the solution in seeking collaboration with big companies. A number of international companies and museums have already teamed up with her foundation, and are selling the products made by the women in India around the globe.
The jury is enthusiastic,
as witnessed by the jury report: ‘Laurien Meuter represents several characteristics and values that the University of Groningen holds dear. She is a social entrepreneur who is committed to creating a sustainable society by using a multidisciplinary approach and vision, she takes international as well as local perspectives into account, is able to connect different worlds with each other and bases all her actions on inclusiveness and equality.’ The jury members regard Meuter as a source of inspiration for the University:
‘Her work makes a concrete contribution to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals drawn up by the United Nations, which the UG would also like to focus more on. For example, we want to establish interdisciplinary schools to confront students with major societal themes and familiarize them with social entrepreneurship, and thus teach them how to work towards a sustainable society, just like Meuter is doing.’
The recently published July edition of alumni magazine Broerstraat 5 contains an interview with Meuter.
Previous Alumni of the Year are:
About the Alumnus of the Year award
To qualify for the title of Alumnus of the Year, a candidate must meet the following criteria. We are looking for people who:
- Have made an exceptional contribution to society, research, culture or sports,
- Are an inspiration to others
- Are a promise for the future (the Alumnus of the Year award is a midcareer prize).
The prize for the Alumnus of the Year is a specially designed sculpture of visual artist Wia van Dijk. The 'Athena Noctua' is a pure and powerful bronze statue that stands for wisdom, curiosity, and pride. Each year the sculpture is personalized by changing the color of the eyes to match the personality of the winner.
Information and contact
Do you have any questions? Please contact the Department Alumni Relations and Fundraising of the UG: alumni rug.nl or+31(0)50 363 7595