Community | SEWF Events

Exciting Netherlands: How Dutch social enterprises are changing the world

by Kasia Kotlarska / May 2023

The social enterprise movement is expanding across the world and the Netherlands is no exception. The country has been experiencing a steady increase in the growth and recognition of the sector and it’s an exciting time and place to be a social entrepreneur. That is why we ⏤ Social Enterprise NL (SENL) ⏤ are delighted alongside Amsterdam Impact, to be co-hosting Social Enterprise World Forum 2023 (SEWF23) in the Netherlands! In preparation for this event, we share some of the exciting things happening in the country and introduce ourselves as one of the two co-hosts.

The Netherlands has experienced growth in the number of new social enterprises. One example is Fairphone. In an industry that many would have thought impossible to break into, Fairphone has revolutionised the tech market and disrupted a consumerist cycle putting people and planet first. Their smartphones have received much acclaim on the global tech scene. Fairphone’s mission is to create a sustainable product, which doesn’t harm nature and people. Their devices are “designed to last, with fair and recycled materials”. Besides creating incredible products, they put their efforts into research, uncovering and exposing unfair production practices. Fairphone also motivates giants in the industry to introduce more ethical practices.

They are not the only Dutch social enterprise making the production of goods more planet friendly. Fashion brand WEAR contributes to a more sustainable fashion industry by collecting and refurbishing second-hand sneakers. WEAR also has a positive impact on the job market through its inclusive working practices, employing people who have experienced long-term unemployment. And another social enterprise to watch out for is Bamboovement, which offers alternative, eco-friendly and plastic-free personal care products.

Also read:  From funding to income:  How White Box Enterprises is supporting social enterprises to start and grow in Australia, while also generating revenue 

Social enterprises have a unique power. They can deliver the nation’s social and policy goals and at the same time, generate income. And their positive impact on the Dutch economy is not going unnoticed. Over the last few years, many government bodies have included social entrepreneurs in their procurement policies. Social entrepreneurs in big Dutch cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht can now access local support networks. Dutch academia has also recognised the immense potential of social enterprises. Several professors, including Harry Hummels, Niels Bosma and Tine de Moor, are now exploring social entrepreneurship as a research topic.

Social Enterprise NL, the national representative organisation for the sector in the Netherlands, is continuously growing and on its way to 500 members. We are also co-hosting the upcoming SEWF23 (11-12 October 2023). We support our members with access to resources, knowledge, connections and community. We also lobby to create more space for the sector to flourish. One of the big challenges that Dutch social enterprises face is being recognised and changing that has been our major priority. We (SENL) lobbied for the introduction of a legal status for social enterprises, called “maatschappelijke BV” or ‘BVm’ to help social enterprises to be recognised, which is important for accessing support including by the government. The legislation is currently being developed by the national government.

The Netherlands has a thriving social enterprise scene with a changing landscape that makes it an exciting place for social entrepreneurs. We want you to experience it in person! Join us at the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF23) from 11-12 October in the stunning city of Amsterdam, Netherlands. You will also have a chance to join social enterprise tours in Amsterdam and other locations across the country, as well as SEWF23 Fringe Day events to learn more about the thriving social enterprise scene. We can’t wait to welcome you in October!

Also read:  July opportunities

Find out more about SEWF23 and book your place.