Dutch philanthropists take lead in ‘sustainable’ integration policy

Refugees at Ter ApelPhoto: Peter de Ruiter/ UNHCR Brussel

A private social investment and philanthropic foundation made up of wealthy business people is going to invest hundreds of millions of euros in social policy, much of which will focus on the integration of refugees, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Tuesday.

The Maatschappelijk Alliantie (Major Alliance), which represents some 250 business and family investment funds, thinks the integration of migrants is not happening quickly enough and wants to meet all ministers involved to set up programmes for training, integration, housing and employment.

It’s aim, according to the website, is ‘building a better society by bringing together, funds, companies and the government to increase the impact of social initiatives.’

The funds are worth some €90bn between them, the FD says. Members are the ‘nouveaux riches’ who became multimillionaires by selling their internet businesses but the Alliance also includes ‘old money’ from family businesses such as Zeeman, C&A, Blokker, Dura and Vermeer.

Out from the shadows

It is the first time the funds, which usually operate in the background, are manifesting themselves this publicly. According to the FD they preferred to keep a low profile because, given the aggressive tone of the migration debate, calling for homes and jobs for migrants would not go down well with some groups. However, they now seem to have ‘emerged from the shadows,’ the paper writes.

The foundation’s involvement in the public domain also means more support for services and facilities which have been left in the cold after the central government transferred many tasks to local councils.

The initiative, which will be completely privately financed with the government in the role of facilitator, is not only a philanthropic one but will also entail impact investments, a small but fast-growing form of investment in which the returns, for instance from rent for housing for asylum seekers, are coupled to social policy and sustainability.

The idea that philanthropy is not enough but that the funds must be linked to returns and sustainability has come in with a new generation of fund administrators, the FD writes.