DOEN uses loans and equity investments because there are an increasing number of people who set up companies to achieve social goals. Examples include the heat pump panels that allow households to do without gas, or a brewery that helps large numbers of people with a history of mental illness to get back to work.
In 2004, the DOEN Foundation made the first subsidy available to De Prael. In 2013, DOEN Participaties entered De Prael with a convertible loan. With DOEN’s help, De Prael has been able to hire 130 people with a disadvantage on the labour market and turnover has grown by 33% since 2014. De Prael has been a catalyst in the market by inspiring other participants to engage in social entrepreneurship.
DOEN Participaties funds pioneers with innovative ideas to make the world a better place. As a result, it indirectly contributes to the impact that these entrepreneurs have on our society.
At the end of 2017, an external consulting firm analysed the role of DOEN Participaties and its social impact. Among the things that this evaluation showed was that investing is a fundamental tool for DOEN to achieve its mission. Read the summary of the report here.
From 2018, indicators will be agreed for each equity investment and requested on a quarterly basis. For example, these will show how much CO2 has been saved, how many jobs have been created for people with a disadvantage in the labour market or how many sales outlets an enterprise has. The results will be reported at each meeting of the Supervisory Board.
The companies in which DOEN Participaties invests have the potential to achieve financial results in addition to major social impact. The financial results are in the form of profits distributed to shareholders or an acquisition of shares by another company. In these cases, as a shareholder, DOEN Participaties will also recoup financial resources previously provided to achieve the social goals. And if a company is doing very well, this can be considerably more than was ever invested.
All these revenues remain within DOEN Participaties and are redeployed to achieve DOEN’s green or social objectives. This way the funds received can be used many times. This greatly increases the impact that DOEN can achieve.
In addition to the green and social impact that DOEN has achieved with investments, DOEN’s investments have also resulted in significant returns on average. The many tens of millions of euros that DOEN has generated in this way have in turn given many new green and social initiatives a chance. And also the funds received back can be bigger than the initial investment, providing DOEN with fresh financial resources to do its work.
DOEN Participaties puts social benefits first, and takes great risks for these. Yet in spite of this, DOEN achieves very positive returns on its investments, especially given the risky investments that DOEN makes in green or socially committed start-ups. In some cases, this high risk leads to a loss on the investment, but the successful companies more than make up for it. All proceeds are reinvested, so the portfolio grows organically. For example, in the period 2007-2017, DOEN received a total of more than €77 Million income from its investments (see below).
During the same period, the portfolio of equity investments and convertible loans grew from €54.3 Million to €141 Million. In addition, an amount of €30 Million was available for new investments at the end of 2017.