An interesting trend is emerging within Eindhoven: a growing professional network of internationals. Eindhoven is already very aware of the considerable international community living within.
A big milestone last month was the kick-off of the pilot for the spouse reintegration program, designed to support internationals who have a gap in their CV to re-enter the professional world. Startupbootcamp HighTechXL and Expat Spouses Initiative (ESI) teamed up by sourcing professionals within the international community to assist the start-ups in the run-up to Demo Day. Companies who benefited from this collaboration continue working together with their chosen internationals.
The ESI community, already hundreds strong, supported the teams with specialized expertise ranging from nanostructures to finance and fashion design. For the first time companies in Eindhoven consciously made use of this highly educated knowledge pool of diverse backgrounds – currently not in the workforce. While this collaboration truly helped the start-up teams, it was also an exciting opportunity for the spouses: to work in a stimulating professional environment, a chance to use their professional experience, educational backgrounds and doing what they enjoy most.
Since June last year the Expat Spouses Initiative (ESI), founded by Anne Theiss, Kavitha Varathan and Ioana Iliescu-Jack, started their efforts in building up this community of internationals and to empower them to be professionally active here in Eindhoven, after leaving careers behind in their home countries. Now, this community is shaping into a larger international network recognized by local businesses, expat organisations like The Hub and Holland Expat Center South, and international communities.
Anne Theiß, one of the founders of the ESI, explains: "Our drive to set up the Initiative was originally based on an estimated one third of the Eindhoven international community being "trailing spouses" – internationals who followed their partners when they secured employment in the region. The migrant status of these spouses is often linked to employment status of their partners, even though most of them are highly skilled professionals themselves. By now ESI has grown into a significant professional community, which includes the employed, self-employed, professionally active, and professionally inactive internationals who want to make use of their education and talents."
Expat Spouses Initiative is an effort that benefits both Eindhoven’s international community and the city. The international human capital is still mostly untapped by Eindhoven industries, but in future it will be Eindhoven’s advantage for economic progress.