“I was 25 years old when my father died. My mother had died earlier and I was an only child, so I received his entire inheritance. My father had done well in the trade of new and old iron. He left me 2.5 million guilders. An enormous sum! I must say that I did not immediately know what to do with it. All that money made me uncomfortable.
It was the 1970s, and I was active in the student and women’s movement. In these circles it was not acceptable to be rich, as you were suspected to be a capitalist! So, at first, I kept quiet about my inheritance and left the money in the bank. At one point I realised that I could use it for what was so dear to my heart: changing the world and giving women and girls more opportunities!
In 1983, I founded Mama Cash with four other women at a kitchen table in Amsterdam. Soon we were able to award our first grants to the Schipsters Collective in Amsterdam, Girls’ Radio in Nijmegen, and the lesbian archives in Leeuwarden, Amsterdam, Nijmegen, and Utrecht.
“I never dreamed that the capital I inherited would have such an enormous impact.”
I am delighted to see that my father’s money has had a huge snowball effect. With that seed money as a catalyst, Mama Cash has now raised tens of millions of euros in donations and funds and invested it in hundreds of feminist groups. But that is not all. My father’s legacy has been infinitely more than just giving money. When you gift people money, you are showing solidarity and providing them with opportunities and perspective.”