And who is she


I’m Merel Disselkoen, enterprising woman and founder of Townshipsmile. A wife to a wonderful husband and a mother to our four children in Speuld, Holland. I love my family, our pet animals, being in nature and with out a doubt, Africa!

Merel in soundbites

Main lesson
Being able to say on your deathbed that you have lived life to the fullest and that you have made your life special, not only for yourself, but also for others.

If you can dream it, you can do it!

Finest career moment
Seeing with my own eyes that Maria, a lovely lady who teaches and coaches the team that produces our African style bracelets, had finished her house, paid with the money she earned with the bracelet production.

Most beautiful mother-moment
The spontaneous kisses from my children, just in an unexpected moment,… priceless.

My guilty pleasure
Eating a big bar of chocolate, preferably at once … 🙂

I wish I was better at
More moments of doing nothing, I’m always busy.

What did my mother taught me
Hugging and independence.

What gives me energy?
Running with Spijker, our dog.

Sunday morning ritual
Sunday breakfast with my family, warm croissants, fresh orange juice, eggs from our own chickens and to take all the time in the world, having breakfast around the table. Thereafter, a good walk in the woods together as a family.

I’m a 100% self-made entrepreneur. After finishing High School, at the age of 18, I travelled more than a year around Australia and New Zealand to explore life and to work. Influenced by the “travel fever”, I continued travelling after returning home. Countries that made a big impression on me were Indonesia, Ecuador, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and of course South Africa.

When back in the Netherlands I enjoyed worked in the events industry for a long time. I joined KRO television in the marketing and communication department and in 2008, decided to start my own event company: Dis&zo events – projects, successfully organising private and business events.

‘You can leave Africa but Africa won’t leave you’.

The passion for Africa and the drive to make a difference in this world was constantly on my mind. Townshipsmile was founded and the company started feeding my passion more and more every day!

In The Story you can read how it all started when I, on behalf of the Johan Cruyff Foundation and the Ndlovu Care Group, managed the construction of a large sports complex in the township called “Elandsdoorn”.

My goal is to have, in addition to my fair trade suppliers in Africa, at least twenty teams in the townships producing products for Townshipsmile. Each team with a skilled co-ordinator from their township, and having their own unique and authentic product appropriate for sales on the European market.

I’m excited for the artisans as they grow along with their business and gain recognition for their talent.