The return on social entrepreneurship

Portrait of staff standing in engineering factory

The Netherlands is home to many entrepreneurs whose businesses are about more than just making a financial profit. Theirs is, above all, a social aim, and they’ve embraced a rewarding, innovative approach: if their business grows, these social entrepreneurs immediately have a bigger impact on society, making a positive contribution to social issues like participation in the labour market, social cohesion and climate change.

ABN AMRO considers social entrepreneurship to be a very important theme. That’s why it supports social entrepreneurs both financially and operationally. The bank invests in social enterprises, and proactively makes available its knowledge, financial expertise and network.

What’s a social entrepreneur?
Social entrepreneurs seek to fulfil a social objective using a profitable business model. They focus mainly on achieving a social return, which is secondary to financial gain.

Financing for social entrepreneurs

ABN AMRO supports social entrepreneurs who are passionate about their mission by offering them suitable financing at every stage in their development. The bank also helps businesses gain a foothold with the 'Sociale Stimuleringsregeling' (Social Incentive Scheme): for every social entrepreneur who is a client, ABN AMRO deposits €100 into a special fund. Three times a year, the bank donates €10,000 from the fund to a new social enterprise.

Alternative financing

ABN AMRO Social Impact Fund
In addition to standard loans, the bank offers social entrepreneurs alternative forms of financing. Via the ABN AMRO Social Impact Fund (AASIF), the bank has been investing since 2013 in companies whose business models are focused on effecting real social change. ABN AMRO primarily seeks out companies with an innovative business model and a strong commitment to market innovation.

Social impact bonds
ABN AMRO has also gained extensive knowledge and experience in recent years with its investments in SIBs, or social impact bonds. These are contracts in which private investors underwrite an intervention designed to solve a particular social problem – a strategy for helping unemployed young people into work or study, for instance. The state repays the investors – sometimes with interest – only if the solution actually works.

ABN AMRO Informal Investment Services
Informal investors are potential investors with a special interest in social enterprises. They often have a background as entrepreneurs or company directors, and are looking for promising companies in which to invest their capital, knowledge and experience. ABN AMRO Informal Investment Services actively brings social entrepreneurs and informal investors in touch at networking meetings like the annual Social Impact Pitch Day, where promising social entrepreneurs and a leading network of investors can meet. All participants share the goal of creating a successful concept to benefit society.


At the end of 2014, the ABN AMRO Foundation launched its coaching pool, allowing social entrepreneurs to benefit from coaching from bank representatives. It’s a very meaningful experience for both the entrepreneurs and the coaches. These sessions address a range of subjects – from work–life balance and entrepreneurship to staff management.


Social Enterprise NL
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.

Social entrepreneurship chair
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.

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