The Netherlands has up to 5,000 social enterprises but investment is lacking

The Netherlands has some 4,000 to 5,000 ‘social’ enterprises which have put benefiting society at the heart of their operations, according to a new report by ABN Amro.

Social enterprises range from slave-free chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely to the fair trade smart phone maker Fairphone, but there are hundreds of less prominent ventures in between. All are companies which aim to make a profit but which began to tackle a specific social issue, ABN Amro said.

Nevertheless, this young market, which employs between 50,000 and 70,000 people, is in need of considerable financial help to grow, the report’s authors say. Half of the entrepreneurs in the survey said the lack of capital investment is their biggest problem.

The bank estimates the demand for capital from social enterprises to be up to €1.5bn in the short term and €4.5bn to €5bn in the long term. One way to achieve this, the bank says, is to encourage investors to diversify more, particularly when social enterprises are in their growth phase.

‘Social enterprises have an important role as the pioneers in the transition towards a sustainable economy, where shared value becomes the norm,’ said Eric Buckens, director of the bank’s social investments unit. ‘That alone makes them worthy of more support.’

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