Tax evasion and sustainable development


Today it is TAX Justice Blogging day and I am sure you have heard about the complex strategies that big multinational companies have adopted to evade paying tax. But what are the effects of tax- evasion on sustainable development and developing countries?

Let me start with a short introduction explaining the difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance. Tax evasion is illegal and occurs when individuals for example intentionally do not declare their money or earnings to internal revenue services. Tax avoidance is however not necessarily illegal and means maximizing your tax deductions for example by donating to charities. Many constructions that facilitate tax avoidance in other countries are ´described as legal,´ however they can have big consequences on economic development.

Billions of dollars have been hidden in Switzerland and other more remote tax havens for example by multi-nationals and rich individuals that take advantage of the different tax rates in different countries. Also special arrangements are made between companies and the tax- authorities in countries that have more favorable tax rates than others like the Netherlands. Big companies like Apple, E-bay, Google and Starbucks pay payroll tax as well as business rates, however they are trying to avoid, where possible, to pay corporation tax. Corporation tax is the tax you pay over your profits and not over your sales. So if you can reduce your profits on paper, you can bring down this tax. Some tactics to achieve a lower profit are;

  • bringing your costs up, through heavy interest rates (agreements with investors),
  • debts or losses over past years that were not profitable,
  • royalty agreements through inter company interests on sales of a specific brand name.

Starbucks is a famous example that has officially gone into the books as paying very little corporation tax because, according to the paperwork, they have made losses for over 14 years in the UK. For every specific drink that is sold, royalties are paid for brand rights. These costs are then paid to offices located in the Netherlands for example, while ´officially´ the company is making little profit. This is convenient to bring down corporation tax.


Unfair competition

The flow of capital is very complicated and it is apparently not too difficult to lie about your profit. But only if the company is able to hire expensive lawyers and consultancy firms to help declare low profits and in this way reduce and minimize their tax bills.  Tax evasion tactics have become a sport for companies and bankers from banks like HSBC in the UK that has been found to facilitate ´legal tax evasion´ (Falsiani files). Lawyers and accountants facilitate schemes for big multinationals to evade tax payment while small national companies, that also pay payroll tax and business rates, do not have access to these tax cuts. Because small companies and taxpayers do not have access to these strategies designed by consultancy companies, they are paying comparatively more tax. So while public revenues, which are needed to pay the social bills of schools and hospitals are being depleted due to tax evasion, small businesses are  at the same time destroyed  because of unfair competition. This all together has big consequences for economic development.

Poverty and inequality
What I find interesting, is to wonder why big companies are investing so much in these complex offshore structures to hide their assets and refuse to pay federal taxes.  As described by Noam Chomsky, American linguist and one of the most influential thinkers of the 21st century, the fact that many countries are losing a significant amount of tax revenue is actually a gesture  symbolizing a refusal to make a voluntary contribution to the government. Not putting enough tax back into the economy means choosing not to support the continuation of social structures that are put into place by governments through  tax money. Examples are transportation (roads, infrastructure), safety to transport and sell products without getting robbed, but also quality controls and high quality ingredients and very important access to education that provides companies eventually with access to skilled employees. Negative consequences of refusing to pay federal taxes will someday be felt by everyone. This can be in bad education, resulting in bad roads, buildings as well as difficulties with finding skilled employees for your company. Noam Chomsky has nicely described our attitude towards taxes as illustrative of how democratic a society is:

Here we are getting together to fund the society that we have decided on.´ - Noam Chomsky

According to Chomsky,  tax paying day should be a day of celebration. Tax evasion is therefore, apart from putting small companies out of work that ARE paying their taxes, due to the social function of tax causing inequality and corrupting the global economy.  

So what can we do? 

Countries need to take their responsibility and governments should and can do much more to prevent tax avoidance and evasion. The “tax planning opportunities” that are clearly available  should be corrected for example through improved information exchange between countries. The offshore-industry and trust offices are however still controversial subjects and often tax evasion is still left unpunished. According to Richard Brooks, the former senior investigator in the Inland Revenue’s International Division and leading writer on tax, countries will be ´fiscally eating itself´ if governments do not put a stop to this. Estimations have been made of numbers as big as 21 to 32 trillion dollars in 2010, of which one third is estimated to be evaded in developing worlds. This money, parked in offshore havens is desperately needed however by developing countries to build the structures to grow. While people are complaining that global aid money is being paid to developing countries, because of the tax evasion that is facilitated by the Netherlands alone, an estimated 460 million in taxes is lost by developing countries. When we look at the whole picture, the effect of loosing this money, that could have been invested back into society promoting economic development, is not contributing to the social system the company so happily took advantage of.

´One thing is sure, without commitment from rich nations, sustainable development for all people will remain an idealistic dream´ -  Mogens Lykketoft, (the President of the UN General Assembly).

As described by  the sustainable development knowledge platform, changes to the international tax laws that make multi-national companies pay their fair share of tax, are needed  and possible to make the 17 development goals (UN member states) a reality. Therefore we are calling for national action and global cooperation to make tax fair. This will contribute greatly to the reduction of poverty and  inequality andcreate a shift in the global economy to more just societies.

By Sara Stevenson

Watch and read more here

#TaxJustice  #MakeTaxFair

Why International Tax Justice blogging Day? 
Why are we campaigning today and encouraging people to become more aware about what the effects are of tax evasion? Unfair tax has a negative effect for example on the 17 Goals that apply to all UN member states and call for national action and global cooperation to end poverty and reduce inequality and build more peaceful and just societies. Tax campaigner activists, supported by over 20 organisations across Europe and the Global South as part of the EU project Tax Justice Together, are writing blogs to outline why they are campaigning in support of tax justice and why it is important to encourage young European citizens to be aware of issues around tax in their country. On the 7th September, partners will promote these blogs to create online noise and awareness about.



Innovating the way we work


Innovating the way we work

The Sharing Economy
Due to digitization, the industrial hardware driven world: focused on growth and the creation of cheap physical products, is moving to a world of collaborative consumed goods and foods. Networking technologies have made the so called sharing economy possible, in which companies like house renting platform AirBnB and shared transportation company Uber flourish. This new economy is, together with access to free products like 3D designs and open source software, disrupting existing markets for example due to greatly reduced transaction costs. Knowledge has become freely available for everyone through learning platforms creating expectations for the achievement of a redistribution of wealth. Online networks create possibilities for new ways of working, in which  individuals can pursue a multitude of interests. And resources previously mainly available to large-scale organizations like access to multidisciplinary knowledge capital and talent, has now become accessible to almost every organization or company through online platforms like Upwork, a global freelancing platform. 

Working in Networks
That the 'traditional' workplace has become less attractive is shown by the growing amount of freelancers. Social networking online influences our possibilities to move beyond organizations. New ways of working are introduces that are about much more than flexible work places at the office and co-working spaces. New ways of working give the prospect of being able to become a digital nomad for example: being able to work from wherever, whenever online. And makes it possible to search out work that creates a positive impact on the world, which is important for many Millennials (people that are under 35 years of age). These opportunities have amongst others led to the initiative of Bee Collective Swarm Solutions. Bee Collective takes advantage of the opportunities networking technologies provide to crowdsource multidisciplinary knowledge capital that is accessible through networking technologies. We do this through a distributed network that wants to solve complex problems and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’ s) together.  

Co-creating solutions
Bee Collective is an internationally-oriented organization that  understands that we are only at the beginning of understanding how we can effectively use networking technologies and the power of the crowd for complex problem solving. At Bee Collective we want to drive the Future of Business and make it possible for example for people to work on diverse projects in Pop Up companies that, while contributing to the SDGs, are also making a living out of it. To help people do this, as a learning organization we are testing and experimenting with crowdsourcing platforms, like PartUp and Glassfrog, and strategies like Holocracy. The idea is that people can use their can use their variety of (-complementary) skills to contribute to, or as we call it swarm around parts of the SDG’ s. We will share our trials and tribulations on the use of these networking technologies and are also very curious to hear:

  • What tools and platforms YOU are using to facilitate the switch from the 'traditional' workplace to new ways of working? And,
  • What has worked for you so far and what hasn’t?

By Sara Stevenson



What we are doing and WHY!


What we are doing and WHY!

Infographic Bee Collective - Swarm Solutions

We are delighted with visual artist Edwin Stoop's explanation of what we are doing and WHY!

Visual Harvesting or Graphic facilitation creates a short, visual, high-impact and easy to understand summary of an event or workshop and can be a great addition to any report or publication.

Find out more about Edwin's work here: Sketchingmaniacs



Forming a solid foundation  - Bee Collective Accelerator Kenya


Forming a solid foundation - Bee Collective Accelerator Kenya

Hi Everyone!

I am Bikundo Onyari, business coach, trainer and Art of Hosting practitioner based in Nairobi, Kenya and one of the initiators of the Bee Collective Accelerator here.

I have expertise in assisting leaders build stronger, more effective teams with over 10 years’ experience in leadership development, consultancy experience, advising, training and coaching for the corporate,  SME's and development organizations. As an accomplished people development professional, my expertise lies in leadership development, conflict resolution and team dynamics giving me the ability to help teams think strategically and engage in meaningful conversations that allow for reflection and inquiry leading to change.

Last year (2015), a colleague and me, Judith Stermerdink-Herrret hosted a Wicked World – Bee Collective session with the theme: “Potato Losses, Value Chain Efficiency and Food Security” in the Nailab, an innovation hub for social businesses in Nairobi, Kenya. The session formed part of the Bee Collective Festival in which various wicked problems were addressed in the several locations across the globe. More of the event last year can be read here: Session Nairobi. The Bee Collective Hyve Kenya, wishes to address the wicked problem concerning food security by starting to prioritize the 10 ideas that came out of last years session and select three to work with.

This will then lead to a three day hackathon to focus on the possibility to set up new form of organizations called Pop Up Companies designed to work on these ideas. A project plan is currently being developed for this. This is expected to be the first event in Kenya as we prepare to have the Kenyan accelerator in place before March 2017.

To make this possible, I am currently working to develop a Kenyan team so that we are able to form solid foundation. I am having conversations with different colleagues I have worked with in the past and come together for half a day of conversation. In Kenya we are keen not to reinvent the wheel since there are a lot of impressive projects happening here and we want to tap into this and partner with like-minded organizations.

There are other activities that are currently taking shape, for instance last week, I met the Nairobi Dutch Embassy First Secretary, Melle. With the purpose of exploring possible partnerships that could be critical at the stage for the Kenyan accelerator. Finally we are starting a mapping exercise to identify social entrepreneurs in Kenya working in the food security sector. This will build up to the hackathon where we will invite some of them to come and work on the identified wicked problem.

Would you like to know more about the Bee Collective Accelerator Kenya, or if you have any ideas, please don't hesitate and get in contact with me!

Greetings Bikundo Onyari



Bee Collective Brazil

Hello! I am Tiago Vilas Boas, a designer and social entrepreneur from Sao Paulo and have the intention of co-creating the Bee Collective Accelerator Brazil together with Carolina Becker,  anthropologist and social entrepreneur.

On Thursday, the 9th of June, 12 people got together on a veryyyy cold day in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, for the first MeetUp of Bee Collective Brazil with the intention of meeting others that are also seeking solutions for social and environmental challenges.

At first everybody introduced themselves and then the history and concept of Bee Collective International was presented and discussed. The idea of the night was to start with the co- creation of the Bee Collective Accelerator in Brazil.

Our intention of the Bee Collective Accelerator in Brazil was shared as:
'To host and co create global solutions together that involve all the actors affecting and affected by the problem with a model that's decentralized and distributed, representative and sustainable.'

After this, everybody was invited to come up with a problem that mobilizes him or her (and millions of others all over the world) and to write it down:

. A description of the problem that mobilizes them and millions of people
. What he or she is offering to solve this problem and,
. Who they think that should be involved and welcomed to the table to discuss the problem and create solutions.

Problems that amongst others emerged were: Water pollution, Food waste and Insufficient empathy with others. Everybody was then invited to write down suggestions on other people's papers.

At the end of the meeting we had a moment where everyone could say what they would like to add to the purpose and intention of Bee Collective Brazil as described in the presentation. It is important for the Bee Collective Accelerator in Brazil to show that other ideas and dreams are welcomed to the organization.

We closed the evening by exchanging contacts and sharing new ideas and thoughts for the next meeting. One idea for the following meet up was to define which problem will be focused on at first and to map out all the actors involved in this particular problem.

I felt that the energy of this group of people coming together around this theme was already a step in the right direction to achieve change. A small step maybe, however giving big hope to believe that one small first action will be able to transform lives in the future.

Greetings Tiago


What happened after The Bee Collective: Swarm Solutions-Festival?


What happened after The Bee Collective: Swarm Solutions-Festival?

And what are the Next Steps..

On 20th November 2015 during the first edition of the Bee Collective: Swarm Solutions-Festival, 170 people worked together on 6 different big world problems. They did this on different locations in the world at the same time:

  • In Brazil, in the Impact Hub in Florianopolis, a group of people unraveled the problem of Water Pollution in that area. In the end, 4 teams committed themselves to assist in 4 projects that dealt with this problem.

  • In Kenya, 22 people were looking at the Potato chain to figure out why some much food gets lost is the chain. Their main conclusion was that ALL the professionals in the room did not had a clear view on the Potato value chain as a whole. Each of them knew about their own piece of the puzzle but coming together in this set-up, gave them insights about parts of solutions they did not see before.

  • In co-working Seat2Meet, in the center of the Netherlands, a group of experts, out of the box thinkers and young professionals looked into the problem of Tax avoidance. There were professors, people from the NGO sector as well as people who did not know much about the topic. This forced everyone to avoid “conceptual talk” en get a better grip on the problem.

  • In MeetBerlage, Amsterdam, a very international group of people came together to figure out what you need to take as an indicator to measure new types of education. There was a clear common ground amongst the group, that existed of people from Kenya, Pakistan, Great Britain, France and the Netherlands: that the amount of trust between the teacher and the parents is the most important part of having good quality education.

  • In Pakhuis de Zwijger three groups of people were working the whole day. One group unraveled the problem of Climate and Citizens: 'Why is the Climate problem not interesting for Citizens and how can we make it more “sexy”?' OneWorld was quite happy with the outcome: there were some interesting findings how things are perceived by a group of people who are not that 'green'. This group used a method based on Design Thinking and went outside on the street to interview people to check their assumptions.

  • The second group in Pakhuis de Zwijger looked at the Migrant Crisis. Two people from Paris, working for UNESCO and the Red Cross set up their own organization so they could do more practical things to prevent people from leaving their country in Africa (AGAID). They told an emotional story about the reality in Senegal.

  • The 7th group, a group of 40 people, practiced with the Rules of the Game of a Pop Up Company during the Festival: a company with a core team and a Swarm of people around them that works according the rules of a Decentralized Collective Organisation. Everyone who contributed to the Milestone of the team got rewarded with tokens. 3 teams used “play money” and 1 team used an extension of Slack in the beta version where they could give each other tokens and also “fork” the project if necessary.

We learned a lot of things during the first edition of the Bee Collective Festival: The main thing we learned was that 'a Pop Up Company does not come “alive” by itself'. If we wish to Kick start Pop Up Companies, we must facilitate this with people who are fully committed to start such an experimental company. People who are ready to embrace the “unknown”.

In order to find these people, coach them, learn together to in the end figure out how this new economic game can work, we are now setting up “Accelerators”: Teams (also organized as a Pop Up Company) who offer coach trajectories and boot-camps where other Pop Up Companies can be Kick Started. On April 15th, the Holland Accelerator was Kickstarted with in the core team: Pascale Roubroeks, Alide Roerink, Xam Mouthaan, Ard Hordijk, Sara Stevenson (Brazil) and myself (Margreet van der Pijl).
In Brazil, Tiago Vilas Boas also got a team together, in Oregon (USA) Scott Salazar already found one companion and is now looking for a team. In Kenya Bikundo Onyari started to take next steps after the Wicked World Problem on November 20 and in Ethiopia, Markos Lemma is looking into the idea.

The Holland Accelerator is even already coaching the first Pop Up Company in the world: A team of bright Nyenrode students that are figurring out how they can work together with Accenture to realize an opportunity for refugees, which they call 'New Expats' (according based on the idea of Annewies Kuipers) to find a job in the Netherlands. In the Swarm around their core team, Reena Tops and Xam Mouthaan are already contributing to the project.

Step by step we are getting used tot his new way of organizing ourselves and we have great ambitions. From now on, every week you will find a new story about our Next Steps!

Amsterdam, Margreet van der Pijl, June 8th 2016



Mondial poverty and the Dutch tax climate


Mondial poverty and the Dutch tax climate

Written by Maaike de Hon

‘We are aware that Africa is losing more money from tax avoidance by foreign companies every year than its is getting from aid of the countries from which these people come,’ Zambian vice president Guy Scott captures the essence of the problem with this quote in the documentary Stealing Africa (2012).

Although nobody knows exactly how much money the developing world is missing out on as a result of rich countries offering multinationals the opportunity to avoid paying tax, the Washington based non profit organisation Global Financial Integrity (GFI) speaks of an estimated 1 trillion a year. To put things in perspective: the total amount of developing aid hardly ever reaches a level of 135 billion a year.

Reason enough for the Bee Network  to put fair taxation on the Wicked Problem-list for the 20th of November. ‘We are problem owner of ‘global poverty,’ explains Judith Veenkamp, coordinator of the Bee Network steering group, ‘a field so overwhelming and big that we decided to concentrate on an aspect close to ourselves and the Dutch citizens that at the same time has an enormous impact: the Dutch taxation system.’

Judith Veenkamp. Source: Emma Communicatie

Judith Veenkamp. Source: Emma Communicatie

The Netherlands are famous for their friendly tax climate for large international companies, as the European Union recently confirmed in the Starbucks case . ‘I think more and more people are convinced that the unfair tax system is one of the root causes of global poverty,’ Veenkamp says. ‘Taxation is a very important instrument for a country to develop: the money collected is needed for infrastructure, hospitals, education and so on. Offering multinationals the opportunity to avoid paying tax is harming the development of poor countries.’

Due to the many layers and constructions that are involved, creating a fair international tax system is a complex problem, even when one focuses only on the Netherlands. The so-called rulings in which the Dutch tax authority records the deals with big companies are for instance probably in majority legal, but nevertheless harmful. To complicate things further the financial services are an important economic factor for the Netherlands. Changing the system therefore demands offers.

The Bee Collective Wicked Problem Session on fair taxation therefore promises to be an exciting event, Veenkamp accentuates, ‘I think it will be interesting to be in a sort of pressure cooker with stakeholders from all the different backgrounds involved, trying to find at least a starting point of a solution for the problem.’


Impact Hub, people who differ from the norm


Impact Hub, people who differ from the norm

It’s funny, all hubs, or co-working spaces I’ve been to, are somewhat hidden. They’re either hiding behind an anonymous door in a trainstation, a stairway in a busy shopping mall, or amidst one of many doorbells to a building with entrances on all four sides.  Not being out in the open is somehow a paradox to these access-to all-feel-free-to-walk-in-spaces.

Found it. Impact Hub Amsterdam is on the first floor of the former local city hall on the right when you enter Westerpark crossing the red rope bridge. Hang on let me show you a picture, so you can find it easily too when you want to visit them.

It’s a long and stretchy hub this one, with light coming from windows and glass walls on both sides. The first part of the co-working space has private rooms in different sizes. Bee Collective held its first Wicked Problem Session here, on the 4th of September. (read about it in this blog, written by Maaike de Hon ). I remember the warmth and the hospitality during that day. As if we were at our own office, or at home even, free to do as we pleased.

Glass doors lead to the next space, a large, open room where you can hear a pin drop. This is the room where people work in silence. Tiptoeing through the room, again glass doors, giving access to the last space, with tables scattered around, a kitchen and a few standing tables. 

Milena Kriek has been working here as a Space and bookings manager for almost two years now. “Entrepreneurship is key,” she says in the kitchen, situated in the centre of the mainspace. “Entrepreneurship is one of the key assets to drive sustainable and scalable solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. We need to fix them somehow to prevent the worst case scenarios, like floodings due to global warming, mass gentrification, or the 1%-99% gap to youth unemployment.”

The Impact Hub Amsterdam is one of 72 Impact Hubs worldwide. It opened its doors in 2008, two years after the first in downtown Londen, and has since gathered around 1500 entrepreneurs. The mission of the Impact Hub is to help and facilitate these entrepreneurs. By connecting their members to investors for example, by offering trainings, inviting people from large companies such as BMW Foundation and Siemens, or by actively connecting them to the 16.000 members of impact hubs worldwide. “We take on an active role in growing the field of social entrepreneurship. The social entrepreneurs are the ones that focus on both impact and profit. They are independent and often lack the basic infrastructure, such as an office, network, specific knowledge easy access to investors to grow their venture.” Members can access these services, network and the facilities by a paid membership, ranging from €25 to €1,175 per month.

A copper bell rings. Time to have – an optional - lunch. An fun and easy way to meet some of the other people in the room, like the Italian intern opposite us, working for AKKA Architects and trying to learn some Dutch on the way whilst working at the Impact Hub until Christmas. Or our neighbour, “pass me the cheese please,” Maarten Osieck from Social Bizzness.

Impact Hub looks for ways to make these independent entrepreneurs grow and increase the positive impact on the issues they work on. Here we see that Bee Collective could also be an interesting way to connect our network and reach to accelerate some of the solutions, according to Milena. “Bee Collective also aims to make them collaborate and form core teams and even companies. They are all a radar by themselves, and together they can be a bigger and stronger radar,” says Kriek.

The Impact Hub in Florianopolis in Brasil will be host of one of the eight Wicked Problem Sessions which are held in on November 20. “I’m really curious to see what’s going to happen, the idea that people with all sorts of expertise and ideas can contribute to a new kind of organisation excites me, it's very much in lign with Impact Hub” says Milena. A challenge however according to Kriek will be the sustainability of these new Pop Up Companies, or DCO’s (Decentralised Collective Organisations) as a business in the long run. Plenty of room for thought. And plenty of solutions too. Which are naturally plenty to find amongst the social entrepreneurs of Impact Hub in Amsterdam, Kriek believes. "Impact Hub plays by the rules of a new game, played by people who see things differently than the norm. Collaboration - from a deeply rooted believe in abundance versus a thought of scarcity - is the way how we pioneer and lead by example towards the future of work. We need to trust, join forces and connect; and make it happen."

Meet Impact Hub at Pakhuis de Zwijger on November 20th where you can have your own mini Impact Hub experience at their Pop-up Hub.

Feel welcome to join the swarm in the Linkedin Group, follow our Facebook, and come to Pakhuis de Zwijger on November 20. Get your tickets now.


Bzzzz...Get your Bee Collective Festival ticket


Bzzzz...Get your Bee Collective Festival ticket


Do you want to set up a new type of organization based on Wicked World Problems like the refugee crisis, renewable energy or food security? Or become part of one? Do you believe in shared ownership? Want to experience swarm intelligence? Are you interested in crypto currency and want to know more about the blockchain? And hey, whilst at it, share in the abundance too? 

November 20th 13:00 – 21:00                                   
Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam                                   
Piet Heinkade 179


13:00 - 14:00 Doors are open
14:00 - 16:00 Action time - take a ToDo which suits you
16:00 - 17:00 ToDos from Wicked Problem Sessions come in
16:00 - 18:00 Action time - take more ToDo's or start a DCO
18:00 - 19:00 Let's eat!
19:00 - 21:00 Action time - take more ToDo's or work on your DCO
21:00 - 00:00 Let's Drink!


  1. Creative design tasks
  2. Software development requests
  3. Marketing campaign bids
  4. Community building appeals
  5. Storytelling applications
  6. 3D requests and more!


  1. Choose a ToDO which suits you
  2. Form a team with others from the swarm – 3 is a crowd!
  3. Use swarm intelligence to make decisions easier
  4. Use experts to turn your and your team’s project into a Pop Up Company with DCO game rules (Decentralised Collective Organisation)

On the 20th of November a Swarm of professionals, stakeholders, out of the box thinkers, usual and unusual suspects are going to organise themselves around 8 Wicked Problems. The combination of the present collective intelligence and the Wicked Problem methodology will help them define the first Next Steps. In Pakhuis de Zwijger we are going to make a start with these Next Steps. We invite you to organise yourselves as a Decentralised Collective Organisation. 




WPP-sessions: not the primrose path


WPP-sessions: not the primrose path

A bunch of personal items forms a circle in front of the participants of the Wicked Problem Plaza (WPP)-session. To make sure they would show up as open minded as possible the organisation asked them not to prepare themselves too much, but instead bring something that for them symbolises the topic of the session, ‘living wage’.