Meet DOEN Participaties - “Entrepreneurs are the true heroes”

ImpactCity and DOEN Participaties, Stichting DOEN’s investment company, recently entered into a partnership to jointly strengthen the ecosystem for impact entrepreneurs. The collaboration focuses on easing access to capital for starting and scaling enterprises. We checked in with director Idriss Nor.

At the very start of Stichting DOEN’s journey, thirty years ago, it observed how entrepreneurship is often essential in advancing societal well-being. Entrepreneurship is at the core of doing good. This insight was at the core of Stichting DOEN’s foundation and informed the course of its impact investing from the beginning.

At a time when subsidies rather than investments were the norm, this was an altogether new school of thought. “DOEN was founded by the Nationale Postcode Loterij to make sure that small, innovative initiatives could apply for contributions from the lottery. From the start, the founders wondered why entrepreneurship and societal progress were considered to be separate realms. It’s part of our DNA, it defines who we are,” Idriss says proudly.

Entrepreneurs that are working on innovative solutions for a better future can always knock on DOEN’s door. “We love to subsidize or give out loans, but when possible, we opt for investing. Together with our partners, we aim for impact. To make it work, we levitate carefully with societal developments,” says Idriss.

Courageous frontrunners

DOEN supports green, social and creative initiatives. As such, DOEN catalyzes frontrunners. They’re the ones courageous enough to take risks, thereby unlocking new perspectives. Idriss says, “We are merely financing. The entrepreneurs are the true heroes. They’re the ones that causing the change, they are the real examples.”

By way of supporting a multitude of small, innovative and impactful initiatives, DOEN contributes to societal transitions. At the core is the transition towards a circular economy that respects planetary boundaries and advances a social and inclusive society in which anyone can belong.

Critical mass

The Hague based impact entrepreneurs from Seepje are also supported by DOEN Participaties.

Idriss emphasizes, “We support the frontrunners, but our work is also about making them visible. The more visibility for those that approach things differently, the more we will move towards the critical mass that’s needed for a new normal to come into being. In which reverence for the planet and each other has become the starting point.

“If you want to change the world, you cannot do it alone,” Idriss stresses. “As relatively small player, we aim to expose the orchestrated, convincing proof that a transition is taking place in society. Impact investing isn’t a playground, it has become a serious industry. To scale and organize, we need partnerships. That’s why we’re always on the look-out for co-investors and meaningful coalitions.”

Shining light

“As such, ImpactCity The Hague is a perfect fit for us. The ecosystem that’s already present in The Hague, and the careful and proactive way in which it’s being built, is very relevant for us at DOEN. The accessibility and clarity by which ImpactCity supports entrepreneurs through policy, impulses and facilities is inspiring. DOEN simply belongs here,” Idriss says.

He continues, “The ImpactCity ecosystem in The Hague offers a beautiful proof point of the fact that impact investing has come off age. It’s a shining example of how a city can offer its impact entrepreneurs a stage by honoring and facilitating them. It has an accelerating effect that helps bring societal transitions to the next level.”