Meet Prashant Shukla: the mind behind My clean city app

This time we arranged an interview with the co-founder of Savana solutions, Prashant Shukla. In 2016 he was the winner of the start-up in residence program with his idea to clean The Hague with an app, the My Clean City app. Read the full interview about Prashant Shukla below!

Why did you enter the Startup in Residence Program?

Well, I have been living in The Hague for nearly a decade and I wasn’t planning on staying for such a long period of time, however I fell in love and never left. When I learned about the Start-up in Residence program, I saw it as my chance to give something back to this wonderful city.

How did you come up with the idea of the My Clean City app?

The Start-up in Residence program published 9 challenging problems that the city was facing in 2016, one of them was regarding ‘ORAC bijplaatsingen’. Reading about the topic I realized it was about waste which is placed beside the underground containers by residents. A pile of this waste can attract vermin such as seagulls and rats, this can be a great annoyance for the residents, furthermore it is a hassle for the garbage disposal workers as the steel plate has to be material free for them to empty the container with the help of a crane.

This ‘challenging problem’ is caused by people and I wanted to come up with a solution which would motivate & inform residents to stop placing their waste beside the underground waste containers. Knowing if the ORAC are clogged or full before leaving your house to dispose of your waste, will deter residents from disposing their waste at that time. If a resident has a couch or a child’s bike that they are getting rid of, but it is still in good condition, they can share it with their community, allowing others the chance to come and fetch the goods before throwing them away or disposing the goods beside the containers (or calling 14070).
Moreover, as an added motivational factor, we enable the residents to collect points which they can redeem for themselves or collectively as a community. This can be a green reward (digitally imprinted tree in The Hague) or other.
My motto is, prevention is better than cure.

Why do you think the app will help?

I believe that there currently is somewhat of a gap between the residents and the municipality of The Hague. The My Clean City app will make it easier for the residents to communicate directly with the municipality. During the pilot, we will focus on smaller issues such as waste placed beside the ORAC, the underground waste containers, we will add more features later on.

Do you think my clean city app is also applicable in different cities?

Most definitely it is a scalable solution with a few technical adjustments it can be implemented in many areas.

Can the app be used for different purposes? Can other municipalities make use of the app?

The app can be applied in the same manner in different municipalities, but it will also be possible to tweak the app a little bit and use different features for different municipalities.

All details were correct at time of going to press. No responsibility can be held for any omissions or errors contained herein. The companies featured on this blog are unpaid. Our full disclaimer can be found here.

A fit and healthy lifestyle is easier than you can imagine

Today on Expatstimes, we are pleased to share an interview with Miriam Kuster from MIMI coaching. She is a personal trainer and does life and health coaching with a special approach that fits perfect with each of her clients. In this interview, she gives tips on how to get in shape and help you build a healthier lifestyle.

Who is the woman behind Mimi Coaching?

There are so many words I could use to describe myself. Fitness Coach, Criminologist, Diplomat Kid, Intelligence Analyst, Entrepreneur, etc. However, in the end, I am just a human being who has lived quite a colorful life and loves to help people. The best way I know how to do that is through talking/listening to people and educating them about fitness and nutrition.

Has it always been your goal to be a fitness coach?

When I was a child I wanted to work for the German Federal Police, but only because I knew I would have to pass physical tests in order to get in. I liked the fact that I would have to be fit and highly adaptable. Later on, I lived in Australia and studied Criminology, but at the same time also worked as a Personal Trainer. Then life had another plan for me, and I gravitated more towards the corporate world. After working at ABN AMRO for two years I realised my true passion was fitness, so I decided to make a return.

What has inspired you to become a life coach and fitness instructor?

I just see such big value in living a fit and healthy life. This lifestyle teaches you about commitment, dedication, motivation, self-respect, self-love, and so much more. It also helps you stay focused and true to yourself out of the gym. I also very much like that I was able to learn so much through my many struggles and can now pass on my lessons.

We all have our purpose on this planet I believe that making people feel better through fitness and just listening to them is mine.

What is your routine to stay in shape? Can you give us some nutritional tips?

There are many routines people can follow to meet their fitness goals. Every program should be a little different and based on the individual. In my case, I like to be at the gym 5 times a week, although I have to say that this is not necessary to get or stay in shape. Over these 5 days, I split up my muscle groups. This means on Monday I train legs, Tuesday back, Wednesday I rest, Thursday shoulders, Friday legs, and Saturday arms and abs. Nutrition wise I ensure that I eat a good amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and good fats at the right time of the day.

In your opinion, is it difficult to balance professional, personal and health life?

I used to think that this wasn’t all that difficult. Back then I had never been part of the corporate world. However, after I started working at ABN AMRO I finally began to understand what many of my clients were talking about. Now I have a much better understanding of time-related struggles. This is why I believe in the “work smart, not hard” approach. My workouts are designed to be as efficient as possible with as little time as possible required. I also love to see when my clients actually involve their families and loved ones on this journey.

What is your advice for people who want to start their healthy lifestyle journey?

I would advise people to think in baby steps. Many people shy away from beginning this journey, simply because of all the work they think they have to put in. I like to approach this slowly, make one change at the time. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, eating brown rice instead of white, drinking one beer instead of three are good examples. This method is much easier to apply, and will likely lead to maintainable healthy lifestyle changes. All you have to do is start, and I will be there with you along the way!

Do you want to get in shape? Or change to a healthier lifestyle? Then Mimi has a message for you!

All details were correct at time of going to press. No responsibility can be held for any omissions or errors contained herein. The companies featured on this blog are unpaid. Our full disclaimer can be found here.

Valerie Nayer: psychologists explained

This week we are focusing on mental health and its insurance coverage in The Netherlands. We recently sat down with Valerie Nayer, a psychologist and Belgian expat who has lived in The Hague for more than 10 years. You can make an appointment to visit Valerie at her clinic, which was founded in 2015 and located in Rijswijk.

As a psychologist, please give us your opinion on the health system in The Netherlands

The Dutch healthcare system is often viewed as ambivalent by an expat. In contrast to many other European members, the Dutch health system is based on private insurance rather than on a national system. This public insurance system is based on a risk equalization through a risk equalization pool. To keep it simple: all citizens are required to acquire an insurance from private providers. The government is responsible for the accessibility and equality of the health care system but is not in control of its management. The system encourages competition but is regulated by the risk equalization pool to avoid private insurers from “selecting healthy patients”.
Personally, the commercial aspect of the Dutch health care system remains difficult for me to appreciate. Apart from that, it is effective.

 Is it difficult to be a psychologist in The Netherlands?

Yes and no. The title of a psychologist is not statutorily protected in The Netherlands. It means anybody can use it. However, a psychologist with a Master of Science in Psychology may register with a few organizations which defend the client and the profession against fraud. Amongst others, the BIG-register (Professions in the Healthcare of the Individual) and the NIP (Dutch Institute for Psychologists).
If you have the required diplomas and work accordingly to the Code of Ethics, it is not difficult to work as a psychologist in The Netherlands.

What methods do you use, and what are the reasons a patient might visit you?

I obtained my master in clinical psychology at the ULB (Free University of Brussels) in 2006 and I have been working mostly with adults, according to the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy theory. I am specialized in the treatment of anxious and depressive disorders, burnout, paraphilia and clinical sexology. Sometimes I also use art therapy which allows a creative and non-verbal expression of the patient’s issues. It’s a very interesting approach but unfortunately rather unknown to the public.

Could you describe Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in more detail?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a present-oriented psychotherapy directed on solving current problems and teaching clients skills to modify dysfunctional thinking and behavior. CBT is based on the cognitive model: our thoughts, feelings, and actions are interconnected. By changing unhelpful cognitions (thoughts) and/or actions (behavior), CBT aims to improve patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties. CBT has been shown to be an effective way of treating various mental health conditions such as depression and anxious disorders, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, panic disorders and much more.

What are the most common calls for help you receive from your patients?

I often receive requests concerning anxious and depressive disorders and also about sexual issues. What I love most about my job is that each person is unique and carries their own story. So, even though two individuals may come for the same problem, the therapeutic work will be different. It is a very diversified and satisfying job in which you constantly must ask yourself what is best for your patient and maintain a good therapeutic alliance to encourage changes and help them face their reality.

All details were correct at time of going to press. No responsibility can be held for any omissions or errors contained herein. The companies featured on this blog are unpaid.

Our full disclaimer can be found here.

The au pair program in The Netherlands

Having decided to become an Au Pair during 2014, I was placed with a family in The Netherlands. It wasn’t an easy decision since I knew that I would be terribly homesick and would miss my family and friends enormously. The benefits outweighed the negatives and I was soon relishing living in a new country, learning a new language and experiencing other cultures and languages too, since The Netherlands is so diverse. We all have different goals when we become an Au Pair, but there must be a common thread behind your decision, that is that you MUST like spending most of your time with children. You will be tested every day that you are with them and you must have patience and empathy when being an Au Pair too.
There are so many things that one could cover about this intense experience, but I have decided to provide a practical checklist for those that are thinking of becoming an Au Pair. Since I’m Brazilian my process was obviously different for those from the EU. You can find the terms and conditions of becoming an Au Pair in The Netherlands here

Where to start

You are able to apply to work as an Au Pair if you are between 18 and 30 years old (30 is the age limit). Sign up with a reputable Au Pair agency, they will be able to help you find your host family and arrange your visa and other necessary documentation. It is very important that you discuss EVERYTHING with your future host family and the agency, this includes your exact working hours, days off, what you are expected to do each day etc. You don’t want any surprises when you start work!

How does the programme work?

The family must provide accommodation and meals, in addition to paying a pocket money of 300 to 340 euros per month (it is not considered salary). These rules are specific to the Netherlands. Several countries offer the Au Pair program and each one has its own rules.

Working hours and free time

In the Netherlands, the weekly working schedule of an au pair must not exceed a total of 30 hours. You must never work more than 8 hours a day or more than 5 days a week. You only perform light domestic work for the host family. You are entitled to a minimum of two days off a per week; however, these days do not have to be consecutive. You are entitled to a minimum of 2 weeks paid annual leave every 12 months. You and your host family must agree when you will take your leave in advance.

Language course/cultural exchange

As an Au pair, you are permitted to attend a language course. Your host family will help you find the most suitable course and must pay 320 euros per year for your course. Since the Au Pair programme is designed to support cultural exchange, your host family will help you experience Dutch culture through various cultural activities.

Health Insurance

Medical insurance is mandatory in The Netherlands. You must be covered throughout the duration of your time in The Netherlands. This required health insurance is called basisverzekering. Dutch health insurance is accessible to all residents and provides general medical care including hospital care, medication, etc. Your host family must pay all of your insurance fees.

Life in The Netherlands

Once you’ve arrived and settled into your new home. There are a few more details that need to be dealt with. You need to open a bank account, register with the town hall etc. Your host family should advise and help you with all of these matters. You then need to get used to your new routine, the weather in The Netherlands is probably wetter and colder to what you are used to, so make sure you have the right clothing. The easiest way to move around town, picking up the children from school, going to the supermarket etc. is by bike, your host family will most probably provide you with one, or help you find a second hand one. Following a Dutch language course will help you adapt to your life in The Netherlands, and will help you communicate with the children better.

Do you have any questions about being an Au Pair in The Netherlands? Leave a message here… and we will answer you as soon as we can.
For more information on becoming or working as an Au Pair, visit this page

All details were correct at time of going to press. No responsibility can be held for any omissions or errors contained herein. The companies featured on this blog are unpaid.

Our full disclaimer can be found here.

Speed Mentoring -The start of inspiring events

The first ever Speed Mentoring event took place on April 13th in The Hague. Expatstimes organised the event which focused on mentorship and guidance. The participating audience were young professionals, entrepreneurs, and expatriates.

Opening speeches were held by Expatstimes’ Prashant Shukla and Johann Stan. Our guest mentors were able to introduce themselves and touch upon their professional and personal experiences. Rachel Smets, Ajay Sharma, Mohamed Ittidar and Maurice Zondag were all gracious enough to accept our call to help and offered their time and expertise when it came to mentoring the participants and leading the open floor Q&A sessions. 


Topics such as quick presentation dynamics, as well as professional issues and goals were all discussed.
With a relaxed and friendly atmosphere the mentoring, and thereafter, the networking part of the event were widely appreciated and acknowledged by all who attended. Refreshments and light snacks rounded off an enjoyable evening!

It delights us to say the event was an overwhelming success. We are in the throes of planning our next speed mentoring event due to the first one being so outrageously popular! Watch this space and We hope to see you in our next events.

All details were correct at time of going to press. No responsibility can be held for any omissions or errors contained herein. The companies featured on this blog are unpaid.

Our full disclaimer can be found here.

Why Speed Mentoring?

Hello and welcome to the information page about the Speed Mentoring event. In this post, I will explain what the event is,  why we brought live to the event and how the speed mentoring event will work.

So why did we want to organize this event? That is a simple question answered by our Co-founder, Prashant Shukla. He said: “a lot of start-ups fail these days due to one reason. They do not get the right mentoring”. He also said “you do not only need one mentor, you need a mentor in different specializations of the market. For example, when I started Savana Solutions I needed a legal person for contracts but I also needed a marketing person to help me with improving my marketing strategy and many other mentors whom could help me in their different specializations. So for a startup, it is important to have the help different people with different specializations. With the speed mentoring events we are trying to make a group of mentors whom are always willing to help start-ups”. And with this event we want to help the start-ups and the mentors to connect and learn from each other.

What is the event exactly? The Speed Mentoring event is an event in which we will invite four or five mentors. They are all professionals in different parts of the market. The event will have up to 30 attendants, they will all have the chance to ask at least one question that they think is really important for a start-up or other part of business. The mentors will then all answer the questions that are in their professional segment as specific as possible. This will help the entrepreneurs to get the most reliable information as possible, so they can implement this information in their new ideas.

How do the mentors answer all the questions in such a short time? We came up with the idea that everyone needs to write their question on a post-it or paper and then place it on a wall. Then the mentors have time to look at the questions and pick out the once that are in their segments of their expertise. Then the mentors will repeat the question in front of everybody and answer it as specific as possible. This way everyone will also get the answer to question they might not have come up with but they still wanted answers on.

For our first event we are happy to announce:

Mohamed Ittidar 

Mohamed Ittidar is a certified coach from Robbins Madanes School of Coaching.  He specializes in guiding expats to add value to their organizations and loved ones by helping them to solve the challenges in personal, family and work-related areas. Mohamed’s international academic background and years of global professional expertise in many industries put him in an outstanding position to contribute to the international community and inspire its residents to make meaningful connections.

Rachel Smets

Rachel is a speaker, lecturer, language instructor, and bestselling author of ‘Awaken Your Confidence: 15 People share their Journey to Success.’  Living and working in several countries for many years, she developed a passion for cultures and languages. Intercultural awareness and conversational languages are her favorite topics to teach online and offline.
She graduated from the University of Maryland (US) with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and achieved her master’s degree in management from the University of St Andrews (UK). Born and raised in Belgium, she currently resides in the Netherlands.Rachel enjoys motivating and inspiring people to awaken their confidence and become the person they want to be.

Maurice Zondag

Maurice Zondag is a self-made man and philanthropist in the etymological sense. He helps people as a personality coach how to find and create your own happiness. He believes that everyone has the right to their happiness as a core necessity in life. From the lessons of his life and the wisdom that comes from every life before us, called history, he now is able to give people the tools so they may find and create their own happiness. He also is a professional public speaker on subjects like happiness, leadership, and communication. In his spare time, he is a theater producer, writer and actor. His enthusiasm is inspiring and motivating to make the change you need in your life.

Johann Stan

Johann is a patent examiner, speaker, entrepreneur and mentor. Johann has a Ph.D. in computer science and graduated the Insa Lyon engineering school. He worked as consultant for the World Bank, evaluated project proposals for the European Commission and did research for the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. Over the years he developed a passion for organizing and moderating scientific conferences and various types of events, such as TEDx. Therefore, Johann has gained valuable insight into every detail related to event organization. In his talk, Johann will argue why event management is a useful skill for any expat. He will also share his tips for a successful event, including how to find speakers, how to build a team and how to curate content.

Ajay Sharma

Ajay Sharma is established entrepreneur, International Speaker and does impact innovation investment and holds board positions in corporates. Ajay is also president of Rotary Club The Hague Metropolitan club (First English and international club of Netherlands). Ajay is founder and CEO of ASR ventures (Invest in Impact Innovation), Chief Regulatory, partnerships and Investment officer for TOBLOCKCHAIN (Dutch Blockchain Powerhouse), Global growth Advisor and Director to Sampoorna (Social Impact enterprise), Associate partner in BSS Holland (Defence security solutions).
Ajay is educated engineer (DEI India), MBA from TIAS NIMBAS business school, LLM (Masters in Law in International finance and Banking) from Liverpool, and above all M&A and corporate restructuring studies from Harvard Business school, Boston.
The idea of Expatstimes associated with Speed Mentoring event is to help as many new startups as possible together with the municipality of the Hague. If you have a comment or an idea to improve the event send an e-mail to

All details were correct at time of going to press. No responsibility can be held for any omissions or errors contained herein. The companies featured on this blog are unpaid.

Our full disclaimer can be found here.

Expats in The Hague Facebook group – Rules

Welcome Expats and new member of the Expats in The Hague group.

We are glad that you are here and encourage you to ask and answer questions with regards to all things Holland! The group was set up by internationals to help those settle into their new lives in The Netherlands. The group is a Q&A group, our admin team and members have a wealth of information and experience when it comes to life in The Netherlands.

**English is the only language to be used in the group**

By being a member of the EITH Facebook group, you agree to be contacted with regards to any & all events, promotions and advertisements that will be hosted/placed by EITH and their affiliates/associates.

Remember to keep it classy in the group, if your Mother wouldn’t want to see it, we don’t either.

The group does not accept commercials, adverts, promotions etc. posts of any kind. We have an affiliated Facebook group where you can advertise your services/business for free ~

Should you wish to feature an event on this group, please contact the admin team first, your event will be deleted if it does not have prior approval.
Second-hand goods for sale and real estate listings of any nature, are not accepted in this group and will be deleted.
If you wish to carry out a recruitment drive, please contact the admin team first.

EITH has the right to monitor all content and reject or remove any inappropriate or offensive content, and the right to block the user. Abusive, defamatory or obscene, fraudulent, deceptive or misleading in violation of ant intellectual property right of another, are what is classed as inappropriate and/or offensive by EITH.

Should you, as a member, be offended by anything or need clarification, please report the post, or contact a member of the admin team.
The group moderators and admin team respond to messages as and when possible. We all have our “day jobs” too! Please be patient with us!

Happy Holland living!
Yours, Expats in The Hague and Expatstimes

Welcome to ExpatsTimes

Welcome to ExpatsTimes!

Through this international platform we provide you with all the information you need in comfortably settling in your (new) country. We are an international community sharing our own knowledge to assist you on your new journey! Don’t forget to check out our bi-weekly blog!

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons