Tjitske Leemans

Hereby, we wish to introduce our FINISH Family to our newest team member–Tjitske Leemans. Tjitske is based in the Netherlands and joined the FINISH Mondial team in October as COO of the overarching programme. We are happy to welcome her to the team and wanted to know more about what experience and passion she is bringing to the team. We sat down with her recently to find out what excited her about joining the FINISH Mondial team:

FM: What made you excited about joining the FINISH Mondial team?

TL: Just moving back from 14 years in Mozambique, for me it’s very interesting to use the learnings from my time there to now use it on a broader level. So, in FINISH I can use it over this larger programme in the six countries. Secondly, I like WASTE as an organization, having worked for many years with WASTE in Mozambique and especially because of the crazy, wild ideas and the innovations. Regarding the position, I like to organize and structure work, organizations and people, all to make the best results possible. 

FM: What are some of your relevant experiences that you are bringing to the FINISH family? Are there synergies with things you’ve done in the past?

TL: In my work in Mozambique, we were working on all four sides of the Diamond (communities, governments, financiers and entrepreneurs) model. I was mainly focusing on government capacity building, policies, helping with both national and municipal-level regulations. Largely, we did a lot of work on capacity building of local leaders but also on demand creation.

We worked with Guarantee Funds in Mozambique to start off with the microfinance aspects of the model. In fact, at some point, we tried to get Mozambique under FINISH Mondial but the microfinance landscape is at such a different stage than the other countries, so it was not possible to implement with our market-based approach. But the business model was the same—working with entrepreneurs, doing mason trainings, building associations with the entrepreneurs and linking them up with finance institutions.

FM: So, it’s actually quite interesting to have you in this role, as you are situated within WASTE (which specializes in two clear sides of the Diamond model) but you speak the language of all the partners and aspects—you can really act as a conductor and mediator between the Diamond Domains.

TL: I think so, I understand also the part of demand creation and how crucial it is, so yes I think it’s important and interesting. Some of our partners within the countries ARE doing all 4 sides [in the local contexts], like FINISH Society in India, and for others it’s split between all the [local] partners because within different contexts, one partner can’t do everything. But sometimes in attempting to do everything you can get a bit lost.

FM: What do you think are the biggest opportunities for the next phase of FINISH Mondial and where would you like to see us in 2025?

TL: I think the model is quite clear with the Diamond approach and its emphasis on the circular economy—it’s very interesting if we can manage to valorize the waste (the faecal sludge). I think that is the core business and for me, the strength of the programme can be to stick to that.

However, we know that sanitation has many sides. So, if you start to work on sanitation, you touch people’s lives and you touch everything in someone’s livelihood—that is the challenge to make a manageable programme. But the strength and opportunities are with nurturing even more cooperation between the FINISH countries and learning from each other. Also, defining for every country which part of the programme is their biggest strength and where they want to innovate, then bringing those learnings and innovations to the other FINISH countries.