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The professor: Joachim Gardemann, the topic: malnutrition. Jolien Maltzahn still recalls this particular seminar, which she took during the first semester of her Master’s programme. “Mr. Gardemann, now I know what I want to do,” she told him resolutely after the seminar. Since then, Jolien has followed her own path. She teamed up with another student to create the SimSimBalls project, which won a prestigious competition last year. “We explored new ideas for combating hidden hunger among children in Uganda,” Jolien explained. And now she has been awarded a “Gründerstipendium NRW”, a business start-up grant financed by North Rhine-Westphalia.
With their SimSimBalls project, Jolien Maltzahn (centre) and Wieland Buschmann (second from left) won the Students4Kids competition run by the Assmann Foundation for Prevention and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) in October 2018. This success was

The graduate’s business idea is to develop science-based solutions that may eliminate micronutrient deficiency and sustainably improve the nutritional status of humans. She gained the knowledge required to achieve this on a Master’s degree programme in Nutrition and Health; spending time in Uganda, among other places, has enabled her to gain experience and establish a network. She would like to offer her expertise to aid agencies, associations and other organisations that operate in developing countries.

»People living in poor countries have the same right as us to meet their basic needs!«Jolien Maltzahn

There is definitely a need: according to the Assmann Foundation for Prevention, around two billion people around the world lack a sufficient supply of vitamins, trace elements and minerals. “People living in poor countries have the same right as us to meet their basic needs,” stated Jolien, explaining her motivation.

The tape measure is a vital tool in Jolien Maltzahn’s work. She used it to measure the upper arm circumference of children in Uganda. This measurement is an indicator of a person’s nutritional status. Professor Dr. Joachim Gardemann, a paediatrician, provided Jolien with remote support. He will continue to advise the entrepreneur in the future, as and when required. (Photo: Dzemila Muratovic)
The tape measure is a vital tool in Jolien Maltzahn’s work. She used it to measure the upper arm circumference of children in Uganda. This measurement is an indicator of a person’s nutritional status. Professor Dr. Joachim Gardemann, a paediatrician, provided Jolien with remote support. He will continue to advise the entrepreneur in the future, as and when required. (Photo: Dzemila Muratovic)

“Where passion meets need, all that is often then required is a plan and perhaps financial support,” stated Sandra Fuchs, start-up coach at our university and at TAFH Münster GmbH. Jolien found out about the grant from this business expert. After initially submitting a concept paper to the jury of the “Münster gründet” network, Jolien gave a presentation on her business idea. Doubts started to creep in when she had still not heard anything one week later. But then, at last, confirmation arrived. “I literally jumped for joy when I got the news at home,” the 28-year old said, laughing.

What are the next steps? Being a recipient of the “Gründerstipendium NRW” business start-up grant, Jolien Maltzahn (left) now finds it easier to work towards becoming self-employed. She receives support from start-up coach Sandra Fuchs. (Photo: Dzemila Muratovic)
What are the next steps? Being a recipient of the “Gründerstipendium NRW” business start-up grant, Jolien Maltzahn (left) now finds it easier to work towards becoming self-employed. She receives support from start-up coach Sandra Fuchs. (Photo: Dzemila Muratovic)

Jolien now receives a monthly grant of €1,000 for a period of six months. If she starts a business during the funding period, support will be provided for a further six months. She is also given coaching on key start-up topics such as business plans, and is part of a start-up network.

The nutritionist completed her degree recently, after submitting her Master’s thesis, which involved scientifically analysing the SimSimBalls project. With a grant to back her up, she is now able to concentrate fully on her business idea. “It makes everything so much easier,” explained the budding entrepreneur. Her dream is to enable as many people as possible to achieve a good nutritional status, whilst at the same time being able to support herself.

By Dzemila Muratovic

About the “Gründerstipendium NRW” business start-up grant:

Those able to demonstrate an innovative, feasible business idea with market potential may be eligible for a grant. Several local organisations make up the jury, which decides how funding is allocated. Any resident of North Rhine-Westphalia over the age of 18 may apply for a “Gründerstipendium NRW”. Applications may be submitted at any time; there is no specific deadline. The grant programme is financed by the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Economics.


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