Working together in pursuit of shared value

The demand for more sustainable economic solutions is increasing worldwide. An important force for innovation, social enterprises are taking the lead in the transition toward a more sustainable economy based on shared value.

The fledgling social enterprise market holds massive potential for growth. Impact investors believe that this potential can be better utilised. They have a strong preference for companies in the growth phase, however, and many social enterprises have not yet reached that stage. What can we do to boost the development of social enterprises and their market?

A role for every player on the market

In general terms, ABN AMRO urges the various players to be more committed and cooperate more closely to share knowledge, capital and opportunities. Social entrepreneurs require capital and the right partners to help them create more market opportunities.

Traditional businesses have an important role to play in the development of social enterprises, for example as partners and buyers. Retailers such as supermarkets and retail chains can help social enterprises to better reach consumers, by adapting their product policies and forming partnerships. Government authorities can also contribute: as knowledge partners, policymakers and buyers.

Realising societal ambitions

ABN AMRO is one of the founding partners of Social Enterprise NL, the national platform for social enterprises. With its expertise, the bank can help affiliated entrepreneurs achieve their social ambitions. To that end, ABN AMRO regularly organises workshops on issues such as new forms of financing, like crowdfunding.

Also ABN AMRO has teamed up with the Oranjefonds charity to start Social Finance NL, a new player in the Dutch market that will provide funding for social entrepeneurs through social impact bonds. The idea is that it can address social problems more effectively by bringing together governments, social investors and social enterprises, and by rewarding outcome rather than effort. 

Impact through better education

Harry Hummels was appointed Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Utrecht University on 1 May 2016. In that capacity, he organises social entrepreneurship research and education initiatives for the Law, Economics, Governance and Organisation departments. The chair is funded by ABN AMRO and Tony’s Chocolonely. As an operational partner, the bank provides job placement, research topics and guest speakers. The chair’s first research initiative focuses on the cocoa value chain.