Zero Foodwaste Rotterdam is a non-profit organisation founded by student Ella Roelfsema. Its aim is to collect waste streams of vegetables and fruit to reduce food waste as well as educate people about food waste and healthy nutrition. Ella and her co-founder had rented a space outside Rotterdam where they would host events and educational activities when the COVID-19 pandemic ground their plans to a halt. Due to the high fixed costs and lack of funding, the foundation accumulated debt and was not able to financially sustain itself anymore. The proposed solution was to start a commercial company and use its profits to run the foundation. The for-profit business would be about processing fruit and vegetables into juices, freezing them and distribute them to gyms and the local university. As the duo was working towards the realisation of this plan, the second lockdown in the Netherlands started and most of the arrangements fell through. To make things worse, Ella’s partner decided to leave the project. Ella was at a major crossroad. She had to figure out: (1) How to save the foundation which was in debt? (2) If a commercial company turned out to be the solution, how could she start making a profit? and (3) What type of businesses could be her potential partners with the pandemic still raging?

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Based on field research; 12 pages

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Department of Dermatology

Rozenberg, S, Mikic, M, Jacobs, L.C, Remmig, L, & Hulsink, W. (2021). Zero Foodwaste Rotterdam: Bootstrapping in Times of Uncertainty. RSM Case Development Centre. Retrieved from