Interview with Hefboom
Why was Hefboom founded and what is its reason for being?
Hefboom was founded 35 years ago with the aim of providing funding to organisations and companies that offer social and ethical added value. It was important that they had an economic activity and created employment. Over the years, Hefboom has also developed an advisory service. In the meantime, Hefboom also provides support services to cooperatives and social profit organisations.
Hefboom inspires, facilitates and helps realise organisations and (civic) initiatives that enable everyone’s right to live and work in a qualitative and inclusive manner. We do this by strengthening social and sustainable entrepreneurship. Organisations, companies and individuals who want to contribute to a social and sustainable world can invest in Hefboom. With these funds, Hefboom offers financing, services and consultancy to organisations, enterprises and other initiatives with social and societal objectives.
Over the years, Hefboom has developed various innovative forms of financing for organisations and individuals. They are tailored to a specific sector or target group. For more than nine years, Impulse Credit has been the microcredit for self-employed people and small businesses that cannot (or can no longer) obtain financing from the bank. For the arts and culture sector, Hefboom launched the Cultuurkrediet in 2018. This low-threshold loan stimulates entrepreneurship in the cultural sector. The Kunstlening (Art Loan) saw the light of day in 2019 and makes it possible for private individuals to purchase a work of art by a living Flemish Artist from a recognised gallery via an interest-free loan.
What are the main challenges for the organisation at the moment?
More and more organisations and companies find it important to work with social and sustainable partners. At the same time, the battle for the impact investor is also fierce. Only in the past few years, more and more organisations, companies but also financiers have started to pull the social and societal card. However, Hefboom has also been effectively supporting social projects and organisations for 35 years. For just as long, we have also been offering a fully-fledged social and sustainable investment alternative. It’s quite a challenge for Hefboom to anchor that position in the market among those many bigger players.
The definition of social entrepreneurship we like to refer to is that of the European Commission. Social entrepreneurship offers an answer to social challenges and at the same time, financial returns are reinvested in the social project as much as possible. This means, for example, that profit distributions to shareholders are limited.
Why did you join the Solifin network and what are your priorities for the development of the network?
Hefboom considers it important to join forces with social and ethical financiers. Until now, this did not exist in Belgium. It does exist on a European level. For example, via FEBEA, European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks (www.febea.org). Of which Hefboom is also a member.
The Solifin network brings together social financiers, who not only provide financing to projects with a positive social impact, but also undertake social entrepreneurship themselves. Solifin not only matches impact funders with projects but is also a platform where we share knowledge about impact financing.
The most important priorities for us at Solifin are - building our own financially sustainable model - promoting the ‘real’ social and sustainable financiers, and - becoming the reference where social funders and entrepreneurs find each other