Ondernemerschap - Gijsbert Huijink

Gijsbert Huijink – Oprichter Som Energia

Gijsbert studied Quantitative Economics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. After graduating (1993) he moved to Romania to set up, with Dutch and Romanian partners, a small business development consultancy. Two years later, he set up a furniture production company which became one of the major solid wood furniture exporters. The company employs 130 people, selling to 23, mostly European, countries.

In 2005 Gijsbert moved to Spain, did a Master in Business Innovation & Technology Development at Universitat de Girona (2008) and put solar panels on his house. He started teaching economics at UdG and decided, with a small initial group of friends and students, to set up a renewable energy cooperative. SETTING UP Som Energia, La cooperative d’energia verda Early 2010 the first ideas were set on paper and, with the help of an experienced cooperative advisor, a business plan was made. Around 20 people, mostly students, were involved. We looked at the local market and inspiring examples in Europe. Although we initially wanted to set up a wind energy production cooperative, due to the time and cost necessary for obtaining permits and lack of administrative support we decided to be open to any technology and simultaneously set up the selling of certified renewable electricity.

In September 2010 a website was online and an initial campaign was launched on 10-10-2010, joining an 350.org campaign, to recruit 350 members before the end of the year. At that time, it was very much unclear what the reaction of society would be. Each member would have to participate with 100€ in the social capital. With 150 members we would have enough people to legally set up the cooperative. Two months later, the cooperative was set up with strong support from society. The first year we all worked as volunteers, getting the necessary permits to sell electricity, setting up IT systems, etc. Growth was constant with around 100 new members per month.

In October 2011 we effectively started selling certified green electricity to the first members. From then, growth increased considerably. Currently Som Energia has over 11.000 members, growing at approx. 500 new members/month. We have started our own production projects (8 x foto voltaic project over roof & 1 x biogas project) with full finance of 3.5 million€ from our members. In our office in Girona we are now 9 people working. Turnover in 2013 was approx. 3.5 million€.