Amsterdam inspires

According to the annual study of the most inspiring organisations in the Netherlands, social enterprises are now outperforming traditional companies. The most recent version of this annual “Inspirational 40” study was published (Dutch link) in November by consulting firm Synergie (Dutch link).

The top score in the survey, for example, went to the Amsterdam-based chocolate company Tony's Chocolonely, which focuses on ensuring that cocoa farmers are not exploited. Tony’s now accounts for 12% of all the chocolate bars sold in the Netherlands. Another social enterprise in the top three is Dopper, a maker of reusable water bottles that was founded in Haarlem in 2010 with the goal of reducing the amount of pollution in our oceans.

Amsterdam social enterprises on the rise

Although there are varying interpretations of what a social enterprise is, it is generally defined as a company for which social impact is more important than the money earned for shareholders. Popular social enterprises based in the Amsterdam region include the energy supplier Van de Bron (which is also on Synergie's top-40 list), Koeckebackers, Marqt and Almere-based MUD Jeans.

In its recent survey of 182 social enterprises in the Netherlands, the consultancy firm McKinsey found that social enterprises are playing a larger role than ever in the Dutch economy, having added 25,000 new jobs to the economy since 2010, accounting for sales of roughly € 3.5 billion.

Amsterdam makes social entrepreneurship easier

Amsterdam is at the forefront of the social-enterprise movement and contributes to building the social entrepreneurship ecosystem by bringing together a network of entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, universities and more. Recent activities include the Buy Social B2B event –  which matched social enterprises with potential customers –  and Capital Impact, an event held in September which aimed to solidify Amsterdam’s role as the global hub for social enterprises. The city’s Social Enterprise Action Plan 2015-2018 (PDF, in Dutch) has more details on the measures that Amsterdam is taking to create the optimal environment for social entrepreneurship.