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Dutch social enterprise revolution at SOCAP

By Sietze Vermeulen - Netherlands Consulate General in San Francisco


The Dutch social enterprise revolution reaches Silicon Valley during the Social Capital Market Conference 2017 in San Francisco this week. In the past five years, the social-impact sector in the Netherlands has grown exponentially, by 75 percent, and is responsible for 3 percent of the GDP growth in that period.

“We had to make some bold moves if we wanted to have a positive impact on the world,” says Willemijn Verloop, founder of national network Social Enterprise NL.

“Through a business network, we connected social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and education institutions, and we partnered with local governments. This led to an acceleration of available capital and a business climate where startup social entrepreneurs could develop and scale. Even the demand for fair products by Dutch consumers has increased, which shows how important supply is to change consumer behavior.”

A $4 billion industry

The 4,000 Dutch social enterprises together have a revenue of 3.5 billion Euros a year, which translates to roughly $4 billion. The amount of capital available for impact-driven entrepreneurs has more than tripled in the last five years.

The success of the Dutch social impact ecosystem has led to the first Dutch trade mission for social enterprises, taking place October 9-13. The participating businesses, organizations and Dutch government representatives will visit Silicon Valley and meet with companies like and visit Stanford University’s Center for Social Innovation.

The delegation will also participate in SOCAP17, where there will be a session on the unique developments of the Dutch social enterprise ecosystem and its adaptability to other environments, such as the US.

Climate change

“In recent years, social entrepreneurship in the Netherlands has become an economic powerhouse with billions of revenue. And these 11 businesses are a great example of that,” says Gerbert Kunst, Consul General in San Francisco.

“There are major challenges for the future, including human rights violations and climate change. Social enterprises, NGOs, and government in the Netherlands work together to find innovative solutions for these challenges. I hope this visit leads to a stronger partnership with American businesses and organizations to contribute to the development of the US social enterprise ecosystem. And more importantly, to work together toward a more sustainable planet.”

For more information about the program and participants, please visit

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