Maastricht native and Maastricht University (UM) alumnus (School of Business and Economics [SBE] and faculty of law), Jasper Jongen is a busy man. Aside from running his own tax company, with his brother, for the last five years, Brothers Consultants & Partners, he dedicates up to 20 hours a week volunteering with the organisation Veer Zien MVV to help support something near and dear to his heart: his hometown’s own football club, MVV Maastricht. He spoke with us about his love for the city of Maastricht and what motivates him to making both his business and his team a success.
Tell us about your volunteer work with Veer Zien MVV. What does the organisation do, and when did you decide to get involved?
MVV has had some financial problems already for a while. Five years ago, they were almost bankrupt for the third time in ten years. At that point, a group of fans developed the idea of helping the club to improve in a structural manner. This resulted in the foundation Veer Zien MVV.
The goal is not to contribute to the overall budget of the football club (for example for rent or players), but to help out when the budget is too low for certain extra facilities that can contribute to the success of MVV. In this way, supporters can help and contribute to the well-being of their club.
For example, the catering in the stadium is arranged by volunteers since July 2014, and has been a success. Last year, we managed to generate EUR 85.000 extra for MVV. It was a lot of work and a big challenge. I do not have any experience in the catering industry. It was a big learning experience.
That’s a lot of work, on top of running your own company. What drives your dedication to Veer Zien MVV?
Indeed, I work 20 hours a week for Veer Zien MVV, next to the work for my company. But if you like what you do, it doesn’t matter how much time you spend on it. Seventeen years ago, I became a supporter of the soccer club MVV Maastricht (MVV). My father already supported them for years, and from father to son the virus spread. I have a feeling for MVV, it is my club. When I see that other clubs in the same league as MVV get promoted, I really hope one day MVV will be the one that gets this promotion. I do not have a bad night of sleep when MVV loses. I realize there are more important things in life then football. But last year MVV played against Roda (football club of Kerkrade), a match not played in ten years, and MVV won! Getting into my bed at 1 am, after cleaning up with Veer Zien MVV, I must admit: that was a very satisfying feeling.
What are your hopes for the future of MVV?
A promotion—that would be fantastic. And one of our new projects is MVV TV. This will be broadcasted at TV Maastricht, 13 August for the first time. It will be broadcast always one day prior to a match and will feature background information and interviews with former players, for example. I hope it is going to be a success.
You are very dedicated to the city of Maastricht native. Did you ever consider leaving the city where you were born and raised?
I actually left a couple times, but I always came back. After high school, I started my higher education at Zuyd Hogeschool in Sittard, where I studied business economics for four years. During these years I did two internships abroad: one at Curaçao and one in Dubai. Those are the only two times I lived for a long period away from Maastricht.
I like Maastricht a lot: it is a city with many characters. Maastricht offers a mix between an old city with characteristic architectural buildings, a modern city with trendy shops and cultural events and a city with a lively university. A unique structure not many cities have.I was 21 when I graduated from Zuyd Hogeschool, knowing that I wanted to continue studying. The UM was five minutes away by bike from my home at that time. Next to that, I always knew I wanted to study economics, so SBE was a logical choice. During my masters studies at SBE, I sometimes had to follow courses at the law faculty. I realised a second master at the law faculty would be something for me. Eventually I graduated from with two masters at UM: Fiscal Economics and Fiscal Tax Law, 6 or 7 months apart.
Was there something at SBE/UM that guided you eventually toward entrepreneurship?
The Fiscal Economics alumni start mostly working as tax specialists at big offices. I think I was the only one in my year starting an own company. It runs in the family; my father is an entrepreneur, too. But I see a lot of alumni from other disciplines at SBE that start their own companies; we have them often as clients in our office. SBE offers courses in entrepreneurship and you can see they stimulate entrepreneurship a lot in their projects, which has a big influence in the region. We really see a lot of young start-ups that come to us for tax advice.
Your company is located near UM, and you’ve maintained a relationship with the school, professionally. How has that been?
It’s great to stay connected with UM. We take care of a lot of tax returns for individual employees of UM. We would like to start an official cooperation with UM and make sure that all UM employees that need help with their taxes automatically come to our office. We get more clients at UM from word-of-mouth advertising. We started with five employees from UM, but at the moment we have 60 to 70 clients via the university. Also, it immediately connects when I tell clients I studied at SBE. Of course, we still need to offer good services.
And what about your work with Veer Zien MVV, have you been able to grow a UM fan base?
Not yet, but the foundation wrote a plan to get more students to attend the matches. We hope to put more time into that plan this year. There are a lot of foreign students that like to watch football, especially German students.
A lot of them are in Maastricht during the weekend, when the matches take place. Overall, these students do not have a connection with MVV in particular, but just like to watch a match once in a while. Last year there were two matches where students could get tickets for 5 euro, two drinks included. We hope to keep this tradition alive, because UM belongs to the city, but so does the football club MVV.
It will be a challenge, because the matches of MVV are always played on Friday evenings and students like to go to their bars then too. But: watching a football game is also just a nice evening out with friends.
Want to show your support for MVV Maastricht? Check the schedule for all upcoming matches.