From a Small News Article to the Creation of Social Finance NL

Monday, 12th October 2018

By Björn Vennema & Ruben Koekoek, Founders of Social Finance NL

It all started with a small article in the Dutch Financial Times about a Social Impact Bond launched in the UK. As young ABN AMRO employees, this triggered our plan to create the first Social Impact Bond of continental Europe. We decided to start our quest at the source. During a breakfast in Amsterdam, David Hutchison, CEO of Social Finance UK explained to us the road they had traveled and offered his support to bring this model to the other side of the channel. Together with Jane Newman and the rest of the UK team they provided every detail and supported us throughout. It has been a big help towards launching that first Social Impact Bond.

Now it is 6 years and 11 Dutch Social Impact Bonds later. After the first Social Impact Bond in Rotterdam, the Netherlands is enthusiastically experimenting with the model, becoming one of the leading countries in its adoption. We learned that the model can lead to more effective, data driven interventions for social issues. With its focus on outcomes it has the potential to spur innovation and a more preventive focus in social interventions, while directly linking risk, return and impact on the finance side.

However, it doesn’t come easily. The model needs rigour, the right incentives and co-creation. This can’t be achieved by one individual or institution. We need an ecosystem of government officials, academics, social entrepreneurs and impact investors who jointly work towards the best outcomes for the social issues we face in the Netherlands. We also strongly believe that an impact driven intermediary is required to be both the glue between all sides of that ecosystem, and drive further innovation. To ignite this ecosystem we decided it was time to create Social Finance NL.

Since we left our jobs at Deloitte and ABN AMRO last April we have been extremely lucky with the support we got. We are working side by side with our launching customers to deliver social change. Among them ministries, provinces, local authorities, investors and charities. We recruited a senior board under the leadership of our chair Professor Annemieke Roobeek and a diverse advisory board including a former union leader, former minister of finance and business leaders across the field. More importantly, we started with a talented team that is extremely motivated to contribute towards the global Social Finance movement while delivering high quality ideas and solutions.

Since we launched on 2 October 2018, we experience the power of the Social Finance Global Network even more than before. We are eager to absorb the lessons learned and experiences from our sister organisations, and we are ready to share our experiences in the Netherlands. Being together with all 5 organisations in India has shown the strong commitment to impact by all and the willingness to deliver that together.

Although the road Social Finance traveled is impressive, we know that most of our work lies ahead of us. To solve to the most pressing societal issues we need to combine all our talent, experience and network. Strong global ties need to lead towards local impact in our home countries. We are proud to be adopted by the Social Finance family and are looking forward to jointly build a global movement.