After a successful first edition in 2019, almost one hundred participants (ranging from 50 to 74 years) started on 14 January 2021 with the free learning program Silver Starters, which was developed by Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing and Aegon. In 12 weeks, the participants will lay the foundation for converting their idea into their own company through online learning and coaching.

Online kick-off

During the online kick-off, program leaders Dr. Jolanda Lindenberg (Leyden Academy) and Mike Mansfield (Aegon) spoke about the initiators and the realization of Silver Starters. Wendy Woelen discussed the curriculum and what people can expect during the twelve weeks of online learning and coaching. The winner of the 2019 program, 83-year-old Han van Doorn, also spoke: “The advantage of this course is that it is online and that you can do it at your own pace in and your own place. During the course I learned about revenue models and marketing, among other things. This course is one of the best I have done. ” Van Doorn ended his story with the following piece of advice: “Everyone should ask themselves the question: What do I want to become after my retirement!”

Corporate social responsibility

“We have received a surprising number of applications from social entrepreneurship and around the theme of sustainability,” says Lindenberg. “That is why we pay extra attention in the program to setting up a non-profit organization.” Like the idea of Marian Wezenbeek: “I think it would be nice if I could play a role in bringing seniors and starters together, with the aim of creating a nice home for both. In addition to the financial advantage for the elderly who offer housing, it reduces the pressure on the housing shortage for students and starters, and it can be nice for the elderly to have company.”

Diversity of ideas

In addition, there are ideas to recycle waste and make new products from it and to change interiors by using what is already in the house and what comes from thrift stores. Or of a completely different order: a serious game that helps people to understand each other better and that encourages behavioural change. Lindenberg: “It is inspiring to see the diversity of ideas and the enthusiasm of the participants. Just like the participants, the coaches and organizers are looking forward to this edition of Silver Starters.”

Never too old to be an entrepreneur

Many over-50s have the idea of starting their own business one day, but can use a helping hand to actually do so. Silver Starters wants to help them realize their dream. In eight modules, participants learn the mindset and skills needed to start their own business and explore whether an idea is viable. Topics covered include customer needs, revenue models, marketing, prototyping and pitching.

To be continued …

During the programme we will keep you informed on the progress and the experiences of the participants. Do you have questions about Silver Starters? Please contact Ineke Vlek at

The Silver Starters program was developed by Leyden Academy on Vitality and Aging and Aegon, and is also organized by partners in Italy, Poland and Portugal. More information can be found at

Prepared by:

Yvonne Schinkel-Koemans, Communication Associate
ILC the Netherlands and Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing


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