Together with their father Hans, business administration alumni Bas (39) and Tim (34) van Veggel run Timeless Investments. Not a doubt in their mind existed when they were asked to donate to Challenge Accepted.
NAME: Tim van Veggel / Bas van Veggel
AGE: 34 / 39
STUDY: Business Administration (RSM)
Charity has always been top of mind to this family business, specialised in real estate. Why? It’s very clear to Bas: ‘We’re well-off, we can afford to part with the money and we’re proud to help make the world a better place.’
The brothers happened to be in the process of setting out a new course for their Timeless Charity Foundation, when Michiel Muller, president of the Erasmus Trustfund and Challenge Accepted initiator, approached them. ‘We notice more and more private citizens are becoming proactive in making society stronger and more inclusive,’ says Bas. ‘Stimulating progress by donating private funds is an American thing that’s crossed the Atlantic.’ Tim adds: ‘It’s something we believe in. The will to contribute - we don’t just recognise that within ourselves, we see it all around us. We already knew some people who had donated previously.’
Any investment in society is one yourself, the brothers insist. Education is a great example. Tim: ‘Young people having proper access to education is essential for our democracy and society. We need people who can apply critical thinking to the challenges that lie before us.’Both the research domains ‘vital cities’ and ‘inclusive prosperity’ sparked an interest with the brothers. Tim: ‘Vital cities is what we’re dealing with on a daily basis. Our profession is no longer simply about construction, it’s about social cohesion, placemaking, revitalizing destitute areas, a clever approach to the development of public space, helping people connect.’ Fortunately, the days when donations disappeared down the drain are mostly over, Bas points out. ‘The whole point of charity is that it leads to something, that you help build something and create a sustainable model which can continue on its own without donations. That is what leads to progress. Not just handouts to those in need, but investments in the world around us.’
‘The idea with charity is to create something sustainable that can continue without donations’
Both brothers have a soft spot for Erasmus University and the city of Rotterdam. Bas started Business Administration in 1997, Tim followed in 2002. Besides putting their noses to the grindstone, the brothers also maintained an active student life. Not in the least because of their membership of the Rotterdam Student Corporation. Tim: ‘Rotterdam isn’t your oyster from day one, the way some other cities are; you need to explore it, discover the places to be. During my student days, Rotterdam – and I lived close to the Binnenweg – was still a brutal city – expecting you to be straightforward, dig deep, work hard.’ Bas adds: ‘Very educational for a young man, great for your personal development and connections to fellow students.’ Although making merry took up equal amounts of time as studying, both Van Veggels ended up doing a postdoctoral. Tim Accountancy/RA at the Open University; Bas did MSRE (Real Estate). ‘So we did become eggheads after all!’ Tim laughs.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurship was a recurring subject at the dinner table. Even though at the time it was not exactly cut and dried they would end up in the family business. Tim: ‘After university we both worked at various companies. It’s important to travel, find yourself. You’ll be taken more seriously in the greater world of business.’ Bas: ‘Our father Hans started Multi Vastgoed back in the day, which then grew into the greatest real estate developer in Europe – he started Timeless Investments much later. Even though the seeds were sown years ago, the company didn’t come to fruition until the last ten to fifteen years.’ Some of those seeds are still blooming in Rotterdam. Hans van Veggel acquired the building that houses Dudok, and developed the Beurstraverse, lovingly known as the Koopgoot (‘Shop gutter’). It’s clear they love the city. ‘We’re keeping our distance from the rivalry between Rotterdam and Amsterdam, at least if you exclude soccer,’ Tim grins. ‘But all kidding aside, together Amsterdam and Rotterdam could reinforce each other and become an unprecedented metropolis. In every respect. Take this Challenge Accepted campaign. If you reach out and join hands, beautiful things will happen.’
TEXT: Karin Koolen
PHOTO: Jennifer Remme