Community Entrepreneurship | Social Finance for Community Based Social Enterprises
The World of Resident Businesses
An empty school that is transformed into a meeting place where everyone from the neighborhood can learn, do business and meet. An old church transformed into a multi-functional center where facilities can remain in the neighborhood. Or a neighborhood farm in the middle of the city that focuses on meeting people and teaching them about nature and where people in a reintegration program can work as volunteers.
Perhaps you know of such a place in your neighborhood, when talking about resident businesses: enterprises where local residents unite to tackle social problems based on the wishes and needs of the local community. Residents’ businesses focus, for example, on strengthening social cohesion in the neighborhood, facilitating meetings between residents or improving the quality of life by creating more greenery.
Four associations, Stichting DOEN, LSA bewoners, KNHM foundation, and Social Enterprise NL jointly seized this opportunity to focus on the financing market for resident-owned businesses. This market is relatively underdeveloped in the Netherlands in comparison to the market for “regular” social entrepreneurs with a more traditional growth model.
Thanks to the joint force of these associations and the support of European Commission, the project Ondernemen Met Je Buurt has a special focus on real estate financing, because having their own premises is an important key to successful resident businesses – 91% of resident-owned businesses consider their own location very important.
The Search for Financing: 4 Phases
- Research: The research phase provides insight into the resident-owned business sector and the current funding landscape. This is compiled in the report Capital for the Neighborhood. Although financing is available, it does not suit the character of resident-owned businesses when they want to purchase their own premises. There is a clear need for a new way of financing, one that does suit the character of the companies.
- Design: The design phase is a description of two prototypes for new financing instruments. A brief description of the process, central to which are the outcomes of the process. During this phase, two prototypes were designed for financing instruments that will improve access to real estate financing for resident-owned businesses.
- Training: The training phase with insights from ‘Pitching for Impact’. The project promotes a growth program by intensively guiding 10 resident companies to a funding application with a solid business plan. This program includes an important component of the first prototype, the Neighborhood BV/Building Association: supporting professionalization and strengthening the entrepreneurial skills of resident-owned businesses. This so-called investment readiness program focuses on the development of competencies of initiators to strengthen their business plan and apply for funding.
- Future: The future phase in which the project Ondernemen met je buurt concludes and looks forward. The project has created support for the importance of a new form of financing, and is also in discussion with a number of parties about rolling out a new organization in which the financing instruments will have a place. In the final phase of the project, a number of actions were undertaken to increase the involvement of parties and support for the development of a new form of financing. Of these, the most important were the holding of round-table discussions and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.
Doing Business with Your Neighborhood
The project Ondernemen Met Je Buurt (in English: Entrepreneurship with your Neighborhood) is a national program that helps local residents to create social, sustainable impact. The project aims to share knowledge, increase skills and make resident companies visible.
Residential companies are businesses owned by residents and make an important, positive contribution to the neighbourhood. They work independently, have a revenue model and allow the proceeds to flow back into the neighbourhood. Due to a lack of knowledge, skills and good examples, the step towards a profitable residential company turns out to be quite difficult for residents and municipalities. Ondernemen Met Je Buurt aims to change this situation by granting every municipality a resident company.
Partners of the Project
Social Enterprise NL has been a national network organization since 2012 and the driving force behind the growing movement of social entrepreneurs who undertake to improve the world with money as a means, not as an end. The more than 425 members take advantage of workshops and growth programs and receive support from coaches.
LSA Residents is an association of active residents’ groups throughout the country who are committed to their neighborhood. LSA helps active residents make an impact by organizing meetings, sharing knowledge, making the network available and by making the residents’ voices heard among policymakers.