For various reasons, the classic market of credits and risk capital is not always accessible to companies active in the social sector. For this reason, there is alternative financing providing organisations and companies in the social economy with access to credit and risk capital.
These are often small amounts (microcredits/micro-loans) made available to people having difficulty accessing, or even no access at all, classic banking financing. Some of this funding is supported by authorities, and the rest is supported by private institutions.
1. The main alternative financiers
Below is a non-exhaustive list of alternative financing
BRUSOC, COOPUS ET CITIZ US
Brusoc, a subsidiary of finance & invest.brussels, invests through COOP US in cooperatives that have investment and/or development projects, most often through a capital increase that, at most, will double the investment of all cooperators. The holding period of these shares can vary between 5 and 10 years. The exit valuation is relatively advantageous for the cooperative because it is based on a formula that allows it to recover part of the value generated by Brusoc's investment. The coopus.be website lists the eligibility criteria for the Coop Us financial product in the context of capital intervention.
The CITIZ US product targets companies and associations serving a societal cause (e.g. integration, environmental). This financing is for a maximum of €100,000 over a period of 1 to 5 years.
MicroStart's objective is to support, through microfinancing, entrepreneurs excluded from the classic banking system in the context of creating or developing their own business. MicroStart highlights the dialogue with the entrepreneur, the project in question, and its human approach.
Triodos is an independent bank characterised by its activities in favour of sustainable development and its transparency. Using the savings that its customers entrust it with, Triodos bank finances companies, institutions, and projects offering added value in the ecological, social, or cultural dimension. The bank also offers sustainable investment funds and sustainable capital management for investors wanting to encourage companies to run their businesses in a socially-responsible manner.
Credal's objective is to make money invested by "co-operators" available to organisations active in the social economy (solidarity credits), to micro-entrepreneurs (professional microloans), and to people excluded from the classic banking system (personal microloans).
Hefboom (NL) offers financial support and expert advice to companies and organisations active in the social and solidarity economy in Flanders and Brussels. Hefboom also offers ethical investment products. The organisation focuses on projects related to the training and employment of at-risk groups.
Solifin brings together ethical and sustainable finance players: Citizenfund, Credal, Lita.co, Scale Up, SI2 fund, Triodos Bank, Brusoc and Village Finance. Solifin strives to find the best financier for each entrepreneur and organises matchmaking and training sessions. A widget has been developed to find all the financing offers of the network.
Financité stimulates and supports collective initiatives in the field of responsible and solidarity-based finance. It conducts research, develops knowledge, accompanies professionals, advises organisations in their search for solidarity financing, and researches and develops innovative financial products and services. It also raises awareness among the general public about the challenges of responsible and solidarity-based finance and promotes the positions and demands of its network to institutions. It guarantees that the companies financed are socially and/or environmentally useful using the criteria of the "Finance solidaire" label.
Citizenfund is an investment cooperative. It works like an investment fund: several natural and legal persons invest a certain amount of money in Citizenfund. Citizenfund then uses the money to invest it in companies that have a positive impact on society. These companies will then generate income, which will be paid back to the Citizenfund, and then to the Citizenfund investors.
You can also appeal to a large number of citizens to finance your project. There are numerous crowdfunding platforms such as Crofun - Crowd'in - Gingo - Growdfunding/bxl - Kiss Kiss Bank Bank - LabCap48 - Lita.co - Ulule - Trividend - Koalect ...
2. Regional premiums
Social enterprises recognised by the Brussels-Capital Region can benefit from several advantages, including a 10% increase in traditional business aid. For more information on this recognition, see the page of Brussels Economy and Employment.
3. Calls for projects
- Call for projects Social Economy: each year, a call for projects for social enterprises is published in the Call for projects section of this website. The conditions, rules and application process are available on the Brussels Economy and Employment website.
- Innoviris - Prove Your Social Innovation (PYSI): need to validate the feasibility and viability of a new socially innovative product, process or service that meets a clearly identified social need? Whatever your mission, find out how to benefit from a grant covering 100% of your budget.
- Foundations: visit the King Baudouin Foundation and the Foundation for Future Generations websites to find out about open calls for projects.