Rabobank and the CEB: driving sustainable change

The CEB has a well-established relationship with Rabobank, the Netherlands’ major cooperative bank and key financier of the social economy. Two CEB loans in particular have enabled Rabobank to support sectors with considerable social value in the Netherlands: healthcare and education.

HealthcareIn 2017, with €100 million in funding from the CEB, Rabobank launched the Social Impact Loan, a financial product targeting enterprises operating in the healthcare and education sectors with a suitable ‘sustainability profile’.  

Each investment was screened based on social criteria alongside the standard assessment for economic viability. The social criteria relate to the location of the investment (for example, providing services in underserved areas), the nature of the investment (for example, the purchase of environmentally friendly technologies) and/or the enterprise’s profile (for example, a socially oriented business model and management vision).  

This first CEB loan was disbursed to a total of 46 enterprises: 43 in the health sector and 3 in education. Individual enterprises received sub-loans varying between €125,000 and €7.5 million. The average sub-loan amount was €2 million.  

All-round benefits

Some of the beneficiary enterprises focused on delivering services to underprivileged populations in areas with high health risks or below-average educational quality. These new services tend to offer integrated approaches that use interdisciplinary competencies and focus on preventative measures. This supports the long-term well-being and socio-economic integration of beneficiaries, reducing healthcare and educational costs for the wider society.  

Rabobank is a valuable partner for the CEB – reaching socially important investment sectors with a direct, positive impact on final beneficiaries. As well as providing attractive loan conditions, Rabobank understands the needs of social enterprises, and supports their business plans and strategies. This has provided vital credibility to enterprises that need to secure the support of relevant stakeholders, including municipal authorities and health and social services. By supporting innovative approaches Rabobank is also encouraging the health and education sectors to adopt efficient and socially inclusive working models.  

Continuing cooperation

IMG_0121.jpgWith CEB support, the Rabobank social impact loan has become a successful instrument for enterprises active in the health and educational sectors in the Netherlands. Due to the success of the loan, in 2019 Rabobank proposed continuing cooperation with the CEB by increasing the existing loan by €150 million.  

This additional CEB loan is being used to help finance:

  • the construction/reconstruction of medical and care facilities such as doctors’ practices, healthcare centres, office space and the purchase of new equipment.
  • the construction/reconstruction of educational facilities such as school buildings, office space and the purchase of new equipment.
  • start-up costs to launch new activities, especially in underprivileged areas.  

A large number of people across the Netherlands are benefitting from these investments, ranging from doctors and older people to entrepreneurs, teachers and pupils, and people with disabilities and special needs.  

“The contribution of the social impact loan accelerates the transformation in healthcare in the Netherlands when it comes to quality, accessibility and affordability,” says Michel van Schaik, Director of Healthcare at Rabobank.  

Innovation cures a health need

Dorpspraktijk VinkelStokhasselt Noord is a disadvantaged area of north Tilburg, with a large population of migrants and asylum seekers. There is a great lack of GPs in the area.  

The Huisartsenpraktijk Stokhasselt is a project set up by the non-governmental organisation, STEP, to create a new GP practice supporting some 3,600 patients. The practice employs three GPs on a contract basis, as well as three nurses and several support staff. A self-service machine dispenses repeat prescriptions 24 hours a day.  

The practice cost €350,000 to set up, €250,000 of which has come from a Rabobank sub-loan funded by the CEB.

Dorpspraktijk Vinkel is another practice located in the North Brabant province, in an old building that was once part of the village church. With the help of the Rabobank loan of €1.8 million the former practice was transformed into a modern village health centre, with 12 staff and a patient base of 2900 (compared to an average of 2000 for Netherlands).  

What makes these practices particularly innovative is their business model. It enables young GPs to start practising without the traditional up-front investment needed to acquire an existing practice and develop a patient base. The risks and workload are shared between the GPs. The use of existing premises limited the cost of real estate and the environmental footprint.  

Key lessons from CEB evaluation

The CEB Office of Evaluation recently conducted an independent evaluation of the CEB loan to Rabobank which showed that our funding created a positive impact across a number of domains in the Netherlands, including the protection of the environment, the improvement of working conditions, and increased quality and availability of health services in underprivileged areas.  

The evaluation highlighted that, within the framework of sustainable finance schemes, investments made by social enterprises – such as cooperative, foundations, or association – may generate significant social benefits other than the creation or preservation of jobs.

The evaluation also underlined the importance for the CEB of pursuing its partnership with cooperative banks and enhancing its contribution to the social and solidarity economy through specifically-designed loan programmes. This is particularly in view of the third sector’s growing role in promoting sustainable and inclusive development in CEB member countries.
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