For business-minded idealists making Amsterdam and its inhabitants happier, healthier and more sustainable is at the core of their companies. Many of the city’s impact entrepreneurs, who want to make a positive change through business, see Amsterdam a compact living lab to develop their products and services before going global.

One of the city’s biggest success stories is Tony’s Chocolonely, an enterprise that wants to modern slavery and child labour across the entire cocoa supply. The beans in Tony’s chocolate bars - available the I amsterdam store, their flagship store in the Westerpark and all supermarkets - are traceable, bought directly from partner cocoa farming cooperatives in Ghana and Ivory Coast. And impact pays off - this chocolatier-on-mission sold more than 28 million bars in 2017 alone.

Whether you’re craving fair chocolate or new ways to lower your footprint, Amsterdam’s got you covered. From Schiphol Airport, you can cruise into town in one of Taxi Electric’s fully electric rides, check into the wind-powered Conscious Hotels, where you can rent a stylish Roetz bike made from upcyled steel frames together with people suffering from disabilities, and then spend your day exploring many more of Amsterdam’s purpose-driven enterprises. Here are a few other unmissable stops:

For design enthusiasts

Snap up a few items crafted by social venture CRE8 (pictured), which also trains Amsterdam’s disadvantaged youngsters in their own digital fabrication technique: 3D printing and laser cutting. Make your partner reminisce about your romantic city break with jewelry such as an Amsterdam canal belt pendant, help your kids learn their ABCs with personalized name puzzles, and add bright touches to your home decor with colourful vases 3D printed from plant-based bioplastic. All of these and more available in the I amsterdam store at Central Station, where you can buy many conscious gifts.

c-r-e-8.nl | I amsterdam store at Amsterdam Central Station

For colourful print fans

Sharing meaningful stories plays a huge part in reducing inequality. To build a more equal world, fashion label Afriek creates dialogue between different cultures through its garments. For each new collection, the brand takes one of their designers to Rwanda to collaborate with their local team of tailors. From working closely together on the perfect fit and design, Dutch creators and Rwandan tailors combine their vision and craftsmanship with vibrant results. Don’t miss the new collection launching this spring! And check out the Impact Shop in the city centre for items still available.

afriek.com | Molsteeg 8, Amsterdam

For eco-friendly fashionistas

How many ‘wear it once’ items are sitting in our bulging closets? Recent stats claim that UK shoppers alone own £10 billion worth of clothes they never wear. Enter LENA The Fashion Library, where you can check out clothes! LENA’s borrowing system gives you access to a collection of emerging designers, sustainable labels, and vintage pieces. So you can get the thrill of new clothes while taking a stand against fast fashion. Fear not: if you set your sights on a wardrobe staple, buying it online or in LENA’s flagship store on the Westerstraat is an option.

lena-library.com | Westerstraat 174H, Amsterdam

For vegan foodies

After crowdfunding Amsterdam’s first 100 per cent vegan restaurant and catering business in the up-and-coming Spaarndammer neighbourhood, the team behind Dophert decided to do it again. In 2018 they raised €160,000 for Deer Mama [https://deermama.nl/], a vegan mylkshake (yes, that’s how they spell it) and burger bar in the buzzing De Pijp district, just a short walk from the Noord-Zuid line metro stop. With its juicy bean burgers, dairy-free mylkshakes, instagrammable granola bowls, and local craft beers, this cruelty-free fast-food joint hits all the sweet spots.

deermama.nl | Ceintuurbaan 71, Amsterdam

 

From eco-friendly design to locally-brewed craft beer and fair fashion, discover many of Amsterdam’s social enterprises with our conscious shopping cycling routes across seven different neighbourhoods.

For fabulous gifts handpicked from Amsterdam’s finest brands, including social enterprises, visit the I amsterdam Store inside Amsterdam Central Station’s IJ hall. Read all about it at iamsterdam.com/store.

This article was originally published in the February 2019 edition of the Holland Herald.