On Monday 26 June Dutch companies, start-ups, financial institutions, government representatives and other stakeholders came together for the Invest InImpact event 2023 at the Louwman Museum in The Hague. To discuss Dutch solutions for global challenges. Challenges that call for innovation, private entrepreneurship, and public leadership. The day kicked off with a vibrant panel discussion moderated by Rens de Jong. Introducing Invest International’s CEO Joost Oorthuizen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher and VNO-NCW Chair Ingrid Thijssen, sharing their insights on the importance of investing in Dutch SMEs, enabling Dutch companies to do business in the Netherlands but above all abroad. A look at the highlights of the energizing event, a true celebration of Dutch entrepreneurship.
The minister announced the expansion of “the facility for (small tickets) export SME financing in collaboration with OHV Vermogensbeheer and Atradius Dutch State Business with EUR 10 million and EUR 10 million extra for pre export financing (working capital). Meaning: a total financing package of EUR 40 million for Dutch SMEs exporting capital goods. Giving an extra push to businesses wanting to grow internationally and make impact.”
And: “We are also modernizing the offering on the market, thus creating new opportunities for Dutch businesses: by linking investments from Invest International Capital to grants from our Infrastructure program DRIVE of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. By connecting these two Invest International can blend-in more private finance and will get more impactful infrastructure realized in our partner countries projects.”
Liesje Schreinemacher in her speech: “You are all here because you believe in making impact And you are right! Small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, are at the heart of Dutch policy since the benefits for the economy and society are significant. You create jobs and innovation You create impact.”
Ingrid Thijssen, Chair of VNO-NCW, talked about establishing Invest International and the need for such a financing institution being able to help Dutch businesses wanting to do business abroad more efficiently. “Invest International is right on track. They provide additional value to companies that know how to find the organization and its finance solutions, especially SMEs. This is precisely what we believed was necessary when advocating for the establishment of an institution like Invest International.”
Ingrid Thijssen, Chair of VNO-NCW, talked about the establishing Invest International and the need for such a financing institution being able to help Dutch businesses wanting to do business abroad more efficiently. “Invest International is right on track […].”
Five companies – Van Oord, LG Sonic, HyCC, Value Maritime and Kelp Blue – receiving financing from Invest International took the stage to talk about their challenges as a company, the solutions they provide to global challenges and making impact.
Karin Vennik, Commercial Director Offshore at Van Oord discussed with Rens de Jong on impactful engineering of nature based solutions, pilots that are needed to get projects off the ground and the risks involved. “Especially in countries in emerging markets that are in high need of coastal protection and restoring nature, but do not have the money to do so. Thanks to Invest International pre-feasibility studies are made possible, to get proof points to kickstart […]”. Adding to that: “We need innovative finance solutions to achieve scale and long lasting impact together.”
Yousef Yousef, CEO of LG Sonic took the stage to talk on the manufacturing of cutting-edge technologies that control algae blooms sustainably. LG Sonic restores aquatic ecosystems without chemicals or other harmful pollutants, being present in more than 55 countries and serving 12 industries. He stressed the fact that the finance solutions Invest International offers “to grow our potential are more than just money”. “It is smart money. The teams involved have in depth knowledge on the content, on making impact, the ESG standards […]. Something a commercial bank does not offer.”
At the event site several great projects financed by Invest International were shown. For example ‘Clean and safe drinking water’ in Ghana, a collaboration with Denys and Supporting doing business in Nigeria, together with Access Bank Plc.
Marguerite Soeteman-Reijnen, Chair of the board of directors of Kelp Blue explained the business of Kelp Blue and talked about receiving development capital of Invest International. “Kelp Blue plants offshore forests of giant kelp (seaweed) in Namibia, New Zealand and soon Alaska to boost the health of the oceans and lock away CO2 forever. We harvest the kelp canopy to produce sustainable products for the agricultural industry. Kelp forests are sequestering up to 10 times more carbon than regular (tropical) forests. Invest International has provided us with development capital to allow us to do more research and obtain more exact data with regard to sequestering carbon. This so we can develop Blue Carbon Credits for seaweed. It is still a long road to prove how much CO2 our seaweed sequesters but with this support we anticipate this to be completed in 2024/2025.”
Kelp Blue was one of the showcases during the event. The company receives development capital of Invest International in order to do more research and obtain more exact data with regard to sequestering carbon. Kelp Blue plants offshore forests of giant kelp (seaweed) in Namibia, New Zealand and soon Alaska to boost the health of the oceans and lock away CO2 forever.
In the afternoon several workshops were organized linked to the five sectors in which Invest International is active and the financing solutions it offers. In total 9 workshops were organized, moderated by colleagues of Invest International. On sustainable manufacturing, decent work and a fair living wage, green hydrogen, investing in health, scaling up nature-based solutions and SMEs going global and the financing solutions needed for export, import and investments.
The Louwman Museum in The Hague is the place where more than 130 years of progress, innovation and design are highlighted by a unique collection of more than 275 splendid examples from the history of the automobile. Located in a lush section of The Hague and housed in a Michael Graves-designed museum building, the Louwman offered a unique and inspiring setting for our first Invest InImpact Event.
For the ‘Decent work and a living wage’ workshop Director Business Development, Strategy & Impact at Invest International Femke Bos met with Director CSR and Public Affairs at AgroCare Imre Vellenga, CEO of the GX International Group Gerlas Van Den Hoven, Vivian Hartlief of the Acen Foundation and CEO Piet Holten of Pactics.
“By working towards paying a living wage for all your workers, you not only prepare for the future, but also have benefits now”, was the opinion on paying a fair living wage.
During the workshop an example Fairphone’s CEO Eva Gouwens (SDG pioneer NL 2023) was mentioned […] mapping out the entire chain of the company and ensuring a living wage is paid. “In addition to being ready for the future, she already experiences a more robust supply chain, better retention of trained employees and an end to extensive overtime.”
The workshop ‘From Linear to Circular: Navigating the Transition in Industry’ was moderated by Sven Bax, Sector Head Sustainable Manufacturing at Invest International. Showing there are many opportunities for Dutch businesses and that Invest International can play an important role to develop circular solutions that are practical, scalable, and effective. It featured Holland Circular Hotspot. ❝It will be a rough ride but circular economy offers to be the business opportunity of the century”, said its CEO Freek van Eijk.
“Dutch companies are well positioned to play a major role in the development from Linear to Circular. The roadmap has many challenges but ambitions were clear. Private Business has to drive the process but better cooperation within supply chains and clear regulatory strategies are crucial to achieve the ambitious goals.”
Health Lead of Invest International Jasper Klapwijk moderated the workshop on ‘Healthy international expansion’. Focusing on the funding journey for Healthy Entrepreneurs, when converting from being donor funding to migrating to a business model funded with equity and loans.
Dutch social enterprise Healthy Entrepreneurs operates an innovative franchise network of micro–Community Health Entrepreneurs (CHE) in Sub-Saharan Africa. Providing families with basic health care products and primary health services in areas that otherwise would be difficult to access. A new share capital of Philips Foundation Impact Investments B.V. and Madiro, matched with a DGGF loan through Invest International, is boosting the network growth and accompanying impact.Read more on Healthy Entrepreneurs
The workshop ‘Healthy international expansion’ put the funding journey for Healthy Entrepreneurs in the spotlight, when converting from being donor funding to migrating to a business model funded with equity and loans, amongst others from Invest International and Philips Foundation.
Sector Head Agri-food of Invest International Raymond Beimers moderated a workshop on the ambitions and realities of investing in the Agri-food transition. Looking at the strategies, opportunities and risks and giving insights on how their investments are contributing to the transition in the Agri-food sector and how investments can create impact. “A strong commitment of Dutch companies to lead the transition of food systems globally but look for funding and (local) connections to make it work.”Read more on our Agri-food strategy
A workshop on the ambitions and realities of investing in the Agri-food transition. Looking at the strategies, opportunities and risks and giving insights on how their investments are contributing to the transition in the Agri-food sector and how investments can create impact.
Or what about the ‘How to scale-up and not to screw-up’ workshop, featuring experienced entrepreneurs, investment managers an a full house of start-up founders! Moderated by Rens de Jong, the panel in which Invest International’s Investment Manager Anne Ligthelm participated, explored the entrepreneurial journey, best practices and early-stage financing solutions for startups scaleups and SMEs.
“Be picky in your capital dilemma, strive for impact but don’t lose sight of your customers and grow your business in a viable and sustainable manner were some of the lessons learned of the panel.”Read more on how we helped Dutch impact start-ups kickstart their business
Talks on the entrepreneurial journey and lessons learned of start-ups and scale-ups, best practices and early-stage financing solutions of Invest International. What is the path to success? And which challenges do entrepreneurs face?
A huge thank you goes out to all our guests, staff, speakers, suppliers, supporters and presenters. For your numerous participation, inspiring talks, networking and nice words. Hope to see you next time!