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May 29, 2012

Launch of Crowd Funding Pilot Seeds.nl

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On May 24th, 2012 the Dialogues Incubator, ABN AMRO’s Innovation Platform, launched the crowd funding pilot Seeds.nl. Arthur van de Graaf, manager of Seeds.nl said: “We’re proud to be the first bank in the world that is testing the idea of crowd funding for social impact investing. By offering a platform in which investors can invest between EUR 50 – 5000 per entrepreneur, Seeds.nl facilitates the agreements between the entrepreneurs and investors.” In the same spirit, Paul Iske, who heads up ABN AMRO’s innovation environment, calls Seeds: “a nice example of Next Generation Banking, where people focus not only on Return on Investment but also Return on Involvement.”

Why crowd funding?

Crowd funding is all about accessing a larger group of potential investors, because even an investment starting from EUR 50 can make an impact. The pilot, which focuses on impact investing, will try to generate funding within four months for five social impact entrepreneurs; entrepreneurs with a focus on health, education, leisure and a positive impact on the environment. These entrepreneurs include: GreenGraffiti, Greenjoy, Yuno, We Beat the Mountain and Butch & Sundance Media’s On the Ground Reporter.

Arthur van de Graaf explained, “crowd funding is a development that we’ve followed with interest for the past few years. What people sometimes forget is that these investors don’t only bring money to the table but also their knowledge, ideas, opinions and networks and perhaps more importantly, their involvement. They can be seen as fans and/or clients of the entrepreneurs. Take Pebbles, the watch brand which achieved a new milestone on the well-known American crowd funding platform, Kickstarter, last month, raising over $10 mln. For Pebbles, Kickstarter was not the lender of last resort, but a way to create clients, almost 69,000 of them. Remember the way that Barack Obama was able to finance his 2008 presidential campaign via the crowd? In so doing, he accessed over $750 mln in funding, the average donation being less than $200. Perhaps more importantly, he created his own fan base, people who identified with what he was doing and were willing to convert their networks into potential donators and/or ambassadors for his campaign.”

What do these five social impact entrepreneurs do?

GreenGraffiti is the first PR firm based on sustainability. Imagine increasing your company’s visibility and enhancing your company’s brand via environmentally friendly forms of outdoor advertising with a clear message. GreenGraffiti’s communication techniques have a high impact on their audiences but have a low impact on the environment. Indeed, GreenGraffiti is completely carbon neutral, dedicated to compensating for their water print and to using materials that do not harm the environment.

We Beat the Mountain produces and sells products from recycled material. In addition, they are launching their Trash platform in order to create a sustainable business model that expands the product offering to include other producers of recycled goods. With a community of over 61,000 people who talk trash, We Beat the Mountain hopes to link those interested in recycled design products to a wider range of providers and designers, thereby offering clients more of what they are asking for and giving them the opportunity to participate in the actual creation of these products.

Butch and Sundance Media’s On the Ground Reporter develops serious games for social change. Aimed at helping high school students to understand what’s going on the world in a way that captivates their interest and makes learning about their role in society fun and interactive. Take their first game, which sends students on a virtual trip to Afghanistan so that they can experience what its like to be a reporter there with all the adventure, danger, language barriers and dilemma’s that cross the path of a war journalist on a daily basis. By supporting On the Ground Reporter, new games can be developed to help high school students determine what role they want to play and what kind of job they might want to have in the future.

Greenjoy is building a network in the Randstad (the area connecting the four big cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht) to rent electrical leisure boats, which are simple to reserve via the internet or an SMS. In so doing, Greenjoy makes leisure more sustainable. Starting in Haarlem, entrepreneur, Rob Veldt plans to expand to numerous locations within the next two years.

Yuno makes healthy eating for primary school children fun. Having chips from veggies or candy from fruit, gives parents a healthy alternative for their children. By joining the Seeds.nl platform, Yuno hopes to obtain funding to develop a new snack for the pre-lunch break. Equally important, Yuno hopes that investors will be interested in developing this new product together with them.

Where are we now?

Since the launch on Thursday we’ve seen promising reactions to the initiatives, including a company which has obtained almost 10% of their funding requirement. Are you interested in watering these seeds? If so, go to https://www.seeds.nl and be part of spreading Seeds.


Snapshots from the Launch event of Seeds.nl


Written by Elizabeth Kleinveld, Responsible for Research at the Dialogues Incubator

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