For my internship, I have worked at TGS | Business and Development Initiatives for four months. TGS is a small Dutch organisation which is involved in initiating and supporting various business activities worldwide. These businesses can facilitate positive economic and social change on a community level. TGS believes that entrepreneurship must be encouraged. TGS is involved in the businesses through project development, conducting feasibility studies and market research, giving advice on business administration and strategy development, connecting them to relevant partners and developing plans for social activities. Examples of business activities in which TGS is involved are a Cashew nut processing factory in Côte d’Ivoire and a chicken business in Central Asia. Currently, TGS is working with various aquaponics projects.
Aquaponics is a highly efficient sustainable food production method, in which cultivation of fish and vegetables is integrated into one system (Figure 1, for more information, please refer to Appendix II – Aquaponics - A literature review). TGS believes that aquaponics can play a major role in improving the access to sufficient healthy food especially for marginalised groups and can contribute to food security and development.
TGS has already established such systems in both Egypt and The Netherlands. However, the knowledge base for aquaponics needs to be expanded in order to prevent future problems in new projects. In addition, the starting of new projects requires a high time investment, while the current employees of TGS were also involved in other time consuming projects. Hence, TGS was looking for someone who would be able to do more research regarding the biological functioning of the system, and also support the TGS staff in the initiation of new aquaponics projects. This vacancy was ideal for my internship placement. When I heard about aquaponics, it immediately sparked my interest and I was highly motivated to find out more about the functioning, the opportunities and threats of this system. With my scientific background in Biology and Plant Science, I could contribute to the technical knowledge required for the development of aquaponics systems. As a WUR student, I could more easily access information both through the University library and through contacting experts. Moreover, in this working environment, I would gain more experience with all stages of project development and execution. Through my involvement I would gain many insights, skills and competencies which are required for working on a project basis, but also for working in an organisation in general. Moreover, the projects in which TGS is involved are largely aimed at development. As I am highly attracted to development work, this would be a very valuable working experience for me.
I was not assigned to one clear, delineated task. Rather, just as my colleagues, I contributed to projects as part of the team. Responsibilities were shared between us; however, mutual feedback was always part of the process. Below, the activities in which I was involved during my internship are described. TGS works on a project basis and I have been involved in different phases of several projects. Activities directly related to a specific project, such as designing the project and applying for funds, have been described per project under ‘Projects’. Throughout the internship I have worked on many other tasks for TGS, which are described under ‘Miscellaneous’. As part of the internship, I also conducted literature research and wrote two reviews. This is described under ‘Literature reviews’, and the reviews can be found in the Appendices. The report ends with a final personal reflection on the internship and the acknowledgements.