Delighted to meet you! This is FairChange

Hi, I’m Katja Marianne Noordam, the proud founder of FairChange. I help you do business with a higher purpose and grow your positive social impact. Looking for easy-to-implement tools, training and coaching to build or expand your do good business? I’d love to work with you!

What motivates me

Crossing frontiers in my personal and working life has always interested me. I’m Dutch-Belgian by origin and a global citizen by choice. The best part of my life I’ve spent working and living in different countries on different continents. For over a decade, I called beautiful but complex Colombia my home.

After many years on the move, I recently headed back to my country, the Netherlands, with my daughter Nina. Here we live with our furry family members, adopted street cats Molly and Dicky (who made it from the gutters of Bogota to an elegant The Hague apartment – you see: change is always possible).

My Nina is a mix of Dutch-Belgian, Afro-Colombian, and even a tinge of Native Indian blood. This magnificent little person teaches me as much about life as I can teach her as a parent.

Collaborate and build bridges

My experience with living in different countries and cultures, working and sharing with people from different backgrounds and walks of life, has opened my mind to diversity. It has made me aware that there is never a single approach to a challenge, and that multiple perspectives inform the best solutions.

All this often comes in handy when working with businesses and entrepreneurs committed to tackling complex social challenges.

I believe in building bridges, not walls. Only if we collaborate as individuals, organizations and nations, will we have the power to create a healthy planet with happy people.

Sounds good? I’d love to hear what motivates you, too! Drop me an email or book a call (that’s free, with no strings attached) and let’s find out how I can help you.

Katja & Nina Parque Simon Bolivar
Palm oil plantation

How did I get here?

Since I started my career, I’ve had two great passions. One is supporting leaders and organizations to find solutions to social challenges, and the other, storytelling & communications. In many cases, I combined the two.

That’s how I dedicated many years to training community leaders to grow their impact, designing diversity marketing campaigns for cultural institutions, developing strategies for youth organizations in poor and violent neighborhoods, doing research and interviews to write social impact stories, and accompanying human rights activists while they transformed conflict into peace.

To name just a few of the experiences I could build on when I founded FairChange.

Corporate Social Irresponsibility

My interest in new contexts and cultures led me to many places. That’s how I got to work with local communities in areas hard-hit by poverty and violence in Latin America. Instead of wellbeing and prosperity, private investment had often brought human rights violations and misery.

It was here that I had my lightbulb moment.

I still remember that instant, working in a poor village in an isolated corner of the Colombian jungle, forgotten by the world. A huge palm oil corporation had quickly put an end to rich biodiversity and traditional ways of living.

It secretly paid illegal paramilitary groups that brutally killed labor rights activists from the village. Farmers were forced to sell their lands at bargain prices, so the company could plant commercial monoculture crops on plantations as large as a small country.

The company created deep divisions in the community by giving jobs to some and violently oppressing the critical voices of others. While the business owners got filthy rich, local villagers walked around barefoot on muddy roads without money to buy diapers for their babies.

This was senseless corporate social irresponsibility at its worst. But if businesses were able to do so much damage, I realized, they surely had the means to do lots of good.

Katja Marianne Home

Shifting the focus to business for good

Bad business practices driven by a profit-only mentality are, of course, no exception in Colombia and the world. Sadly, this is the story of all too many communities and social leaders I worked with in isolated Latin American mountain regions and forests, who risked their lives fighting the consequences of corporate greed.

With courage, they stood up against large companies that all too often exported their goods to western consumers who didn’t know (or didn’t care?) about the environmental destruction and human suffering they co-sponsored with their purchases.

I had seen it before, but somehow this time, enough was enough.

It occurred to me that if we really want to change deeply rooted social and economic injustice, we have to change businesses.

A fascinating journey from purpose to impact

Once I had made the decision to dive into the world of doing business with purpose and creating positive social impact, a fascinating journey followed.

I joined Colombia’s first print magazine about CSR, where I had the chance to meet front-running companies involved in doing Good business – and was astonished by the huge gap between global CSR norms & regulations and local efforts to put those into practice.

To complement my on-the-ground experience with community-company relations, I did a Master’s in Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability. Called myself crazy for the countless Saturdays spent in a classroom while I had to leave my little girl playing in the park with her nanny. Felt proud, relieved and finally guilt-free when I could hang my Universidad Externado/Columbia University, NY, gold-framed certificate on the wall of our Bogota apartment.

I advised international corporations who decided to shift from profit-only to profit with impact, and had no clue where to start.

I supported small companies and family businesses deeply rooted in local communities that had been improving workers’ and suppliers’ lives forever, but struggled to measure and grow their impact.

With the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce and FIP, a top-ranked think tank in Latin America, I designed an online tool to support businesses investing in rebuilding war-torn economies.

With UN Women, we developed a toolkit for women’s economic empowerment in rural areas affected by poverty and conflict.

I came across CEOs of big businesses who took giant steps innovating for social and sustainable change, only to be replaced by dollar-driven successors who set the clock decades back in a split second. And I met many cynical business consultants who had dealt with greenwashing and impact washing for so long that they didn’t believe a word companies said about corporate responsibility anymore.

I don’t agree.

Yes, there are many obstacles. But hey, we stumble and get back on our feet better. We face mighty adversaries and build alliances that are more powerful.

The most important lesson I’ve learned is that change is always possible. Small steps, in the end, lead to big transformations.

Interested in working with FairChange? I’ll be delighted to put my 20+ years of on-the-ground experience supporting companies and communities in complex environments to work for you! FairChange offers business coaching, strategy programs, online learning and practical tools to springboard your social impact success.

For me, campaigning and good business is not just opposing destructive practices or human rights abuses. It’s also about putting forward solutions.

Anita Roddick, British businesswoman, social activist, founder of the Body Shop