Change maker

Founder story

#tinytobig

The mission?
To help1 million people out of poverty and stay out of it.

For years Laurien Meuter (1976) worked as a banker for ABN AMRO in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Today, her work focuses on the least fortunate in the world. Her mission? To help 1 million people to break their own poverty cycle and to stay out of it.

I was born in an affluent neighborhood close to Amsterdam. With a carefree upbringing, I basically lived the life that a child born in a family, grown up in a social circle like mine, was destined to live: grammar school, the local tennis club, studied Corporate Finance, became a banker and bought an apartment on one of the Amsterdam canals at 30.

Looking back, I never questioned what I was doing with my life. Where I was going. I was just living happy and carefree. And had it not been for Kiran and Sharief, I think I might never have.

'One day he was
gone'

Kiran (7) was a drug addicted child living on the streets of Mumbai, India. I met him at a shelter in 2005, where I volunteered during the weekends. During the week I worked for ABN-Amro. Kiran and I had an instant connection and spent lots of time together. One day he was gone. According to his friends, he took an overdose behind the station, a life-threatening area for anyone. Without thinking, I went out to search for him, determined to find him. I searched for hours and hours coming across the most horrible scenes. I never saw Kiran again.

Looking back during search for Kiran the seed was planted for what Tiny Miracles is doing today. Kiran’s photo is still in my little shrine at my house. He has been and always will be the source of inspiration for Tiny Miracles.

girls with clothes drying

‘I rolled up my sleeves
and just started’

Sharief and I ‘met’ while riding my bicycle in Amsterdam: I did not give him right of way and I ended up under the wheels of his van. After this accident I was in a rehab centre every day with two complete strangers. Through daily conversations, a close bond grew between us. But unlike what I was used to, our conversations were never about what kind of work we did, where we lived, who we knew and what we bought. I realized that the life I was living could be so much more fun and fulfilling if I listened to my internal compass than that I made my decisions influenced by external expectations. The urge to listen to my heart grew stronger and my purpose became more and more clear.

I called Sharief and thanked him. I told him that the consequences of the accident had brought me one of the most important lessons of my life – the seed that Kiran planted had had time to grow.

I founded Tiny Miracles as soon as I had recovered. I had no plan but I had determination. I rolled up my sleeves and just started.