Meet the 'Sweeping Dutchman' and his painted broomsticks

RNW archive

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A story on South Asia Wired in November 2011 mixed three ingredients: a young Dutch entrepreneur, a poor Sri Lanka village and brightly painted broomsticks. Do these ingredients mix? Well, they do, proves Hergen van der Starre a.k.a. The Sweeping Dutchman.


Listen to South Asia Wired (from November 2011) here (or click here)


33-year old Hergen van der Starre got the idea of manufacturing painted broomsticks a few years ago when he made one as a quick and cheap birthday present for a friend.

This led to a small manufacturing facility (Hergen doesn't like to speak about a "factory") in the south of Sri Lanka, where he employs 22 people. They paint and assemble the broomsticks which are sold in a few dozen Dutch shops and online.

Socially responsible
The Sweeping Dutchman is one of a handful of Dutch companies that have been selected for a new scheme, which hopes to bring together companies that want to work in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

The Grensverleggers ("Border shifters" or  "Groundbreakers") scheme got its kick off this week. It has been set up by MVO Netherlands, a government funded organisation that promotes corporate social responsibility among Dutch businesses that work abroad.

Watch a video (in Dutch) about The Sweeping Dutchman here (or click here), which includes footage shot in Sri Lanka:


This story was originally published on 17 November 2011.