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Social projects – Header image (photo)

Community projects and social housing

Impact measures

In 2016 Triodos Bank and Triodos Investment Management financed 437 community projects (2015: 316), and 183 social housing projects, which directly and indirectly provide accommodation for approximately 67,000 people (2015: 12,400).

Social projects – Impact measures (graphic)

Our vision and activities

Percentage of our loans and investments to community projects and social housing

Social projects – 7.7% of our loans to the social sector (pie chart)

Loans and investments by subsector

Social projects – Lending by subsector (graphic)
% derived from data at the time of publication

Our vision on community projects and social housing

There are many social organisations and charities developing commercially viable approaches to tackling social problems. At the same time, we see a growing number of social entrepreneurs: individuals creating new business models driven by a social motive to serve a specific group in their community or in society, underpinned by the notion of disciplined business management.

Financing the social economy

We see the potential for this emerging ‘Social Economy’ sector to play a positive and significant role alongside the public sector and the conventional business sector to shape our future economies.

Our priorities

Within this sector we focus on relationships with leading social entrepreneurs who can demonstrate that their approach has a clear positive social impact for the communities they serve.

In many cases, social enterprises adapt to major changes in governmental and public sector funding. As such they need to be innovative in how they organise their business so they can deliver the biggest possible social benefit whilst also being economically sustainable.

We are particularly keen to support business models that have the potential to become scalable and increase their impact through growing their business and inspiring others to do the same.

Our activities

Our activities within social projects include loans to organisations delivering a positive social benefit from community enterprises, fair trade businesses, and social enterprises offering employment to vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, to not-for-profit social purpose companies, and providers of social housing.

Case studies

2016

Goodbrandz
 

What was the challenge for this project?

Making sustainable fashion visible and available to a broad public is, in short, the mission of entrepreneur Cécile Scheele, initiator of Goodbrandz. Goodbrandz was founded in 2011 and is a buyer and distributer of fashion produced in an environmentally-friendly way and under good labour conditions.

The company deliberately chooses not to sell the products in its own outlets. Instead sustainable trousers, suits, blouses and bags can now be found in some 400 regular fashion outlets all over The Netherlands, which gives Goodbrandz access to a broad public.

How is the approach of the project innovative?

Goodbrandz shows that sustainable fashion is a good and affordable alternative to ‘ordinary’ clothing. The prices of the labels affiliated with it are comparable to those of other fashion labels. If you buy an ordinary pair of jeans, you not only pay for the production costs of the item, but especially also for the label. This latter cost is far lower with Goodbrandz labels. So the clothes are sold at a competitive price while using sustainable production methods.

What impact does Triodos Bank have on this project?

Even in the fashion world, you have to spend money to make money. As a buyer and distributor of clothing, Goodbrandz buys fashion from sustainable producers. The collection has to be put together. And its stocks have to be stored temporarily to make sure it can provide an uninterrupted supply of clothes to the shops. All of which costs money. Only when the shopkeeper actually buys the goods does Goodbrandz get paid. Triodos Bank provides capital which the company uses to bridge the period between buying from the factories and selling to the shops.

What impact does the project have on the sector?

Each year, Goodbrandz organises the Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week, scheduled in 2017 from 6 to 15 October. Then the designers of sustainable fashion showcase their latest creations. The various activities and fashion shows during that week inspire the fashion sector to embrace positive change.

The company wants to show the public that there is a genuine alternative to regular fashion, which is key. Research by Goodbrandz shows that 68% of Dutch women would like to opt for sustainable fashion, but only 11% knows where to buy it.

What impact does the project have on society?

The fashion industry pollutes; for example, the sector uses a lot of chemicals. On top of that, the production of a vital raw material, such as cotton, requires a lot of water. Plus, the working conditions in studios and clothing factories in countries like India and Bangladesh are often very poor. There are regular instances of exploitation, child labour and long working days of up to 16 hours. Pay is often low and work unsafe.

The negative impact on the environment and people underlines the importance of sustainable fashion produced under honest and fair conditions.

How does the project share the vision of Triodos Bank?

When it comes to sustainability, the fashion sector lags behind the agricultural and food sector, for instance. The offer in organic and Fairtrade food has increased enormously in the last years. The same is not yet true for sustainable clothing.

Triodos Bank believes it is important to work together with an innovative business like Goodbrandz, which puts sustainable clothing firmly on the map. Goodbrandz is a pioneer in the fashion sector and an inspiration for positive change.

Fundació Deixalles
 

What challenge was the inspiration for this project?

Fundació Deixalles’s inspiration was born of the desire to contribute to a fairer, more sustainable society, by helping people in a situation of, or at risk of, social exclusion in the Balearic Islands to enter the labour market. The innovative thinkers behind the foundation felt that this could be achieved whilst improving the treatment and management of waste on the islands at the same time.

The organisation’s story began in 1986, in a former dairy warehouse on the outskirts of Palma de Mallorca. Its early steps were the result of the initiative of the Social Action delegation of the Mallorca Diocese and the Small and Medium-Sized Business Federation of Mallorca (PIMEM). The foundation was launched in 1990 in a fully-modified warehouse. Immediately the first positive results of the collection and treatment of waste and, above all, of the social inclusion and incorporation into the labour market of people with difficulties, could be seen. From then on, more specific lines of work were defined. They focussed on carpentry and electrician training so larger waste items could be reused. Educational activities on environmental and social topics also began to be developed in schools, for teachers, in social action groups and for the authorities.

Little by little the organisation has evolved. It now includes new activities including collaborating on European projects, inclusion companies, solidarity economics, alternative financial instruments and ethical banking. Currently Fundació Deixalles is the leading organisation supporting underprivileged groups in the Balearics through inclusion in the labour market, cooperation, recycling, responsible consumption and training.

What was your innovation that addresses this problem?

Fundació Deixalles’ main innovation is the training and social and labour inclusion programmes it has developed that treat over 2,000 tonnes of waste a year. As a result they prevent the emission of more than 5,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide whilst simultaneously generating job opportunities and future prospects for hundreds of people.

Innovation varies from used clothing customisation workshops to the restoration of furniture and the repair of electrical appliances. It even includes the methodology used in these processes. “With the entire waste recovery and treatment process, the goal is to improve, recover or consolidate the social skills each user needs to be included in wider society”, says Francesca Martí, director of Fundació Deixalles. “We use an active, participative methodology, fostering the daily involvement of all the people and organisations we work with as a network: the social services centres, the connection with other institutions (such as drug addiction centres), the social department of Fundació Deixalles via its technical team and the user - the person ultimately responsible for their own process of inclusion into the labour market”, explains Martí.

What impact has Triodos Bank had on your business?

Because of its high level of dependency on the public authorities, like the vast majority of the organisations committed to social issues, and due to a delay receiving payments from them, Fundació Deixalles was in dire need of money it could use to meet its day-to-day needs. Currently 19% of the organisation’s income comes from subsidies.

For this reason the foundation turned to Triodos Bank shortly after it inaugurated its branch in Palma de Mallorca, and asked for an advance on the subsidies and covenant arrangements owed to it. Since then, the relationship between Fundació Deixalles and Triodos Bank has grown stronger thanks to their shared values and mutual understanding.

In addition to providing banking products and services, Triodos Bank recognises the innovative nature of this initiative and the value of its social and environmental impact, as a result of which Fundació Deixalles was selected as one of the six finalists for Triodos Bank Spain’s 3rd Triodos Business Award in 2016. This popular award with customers and non-customers alike carries a 10,000 Euro prize. It highlights the contribution of the companies and projects the bank finances thanks to the money entrusted to it by its savers. . In January of 2015 the bank organised a trip to Fundació Deixalles for customers from Mallorca, so that they could see the positive impact of their savings in person.

What impact has your business had on the sector you work in?

Thirty years of experience and positive results demonstrate that the Fundació Deixalles is a leader in the social and environmental sector of the Balearic Islands.

Currently the foundation manages all of the collection of separated waste for recycling on the island of Mallorca and parts of Ibiza. Its work has been recognised by numerous prizes, such as the ONCE Illes Balears 2015 Solidarity Prize, the Consell de Mallorca Solidarity Prize, the Ramon Llull Prize for business initiative, awarded by the Government of the Balearic Islands, and the National Friends of the Earth Prize for its environmental activity.

What impact has your business had on the community?

Today, more than 220 people – nearly half of them from groups in a situation, or at risk, of social exclusion – make up the workforce of the Fundació Deixalles. Almost 300 people take part in its training and inclusion programmes every year; over 1,000 people have been through its job orientation office; more than 5,100 schoolchildren have directly taken part in its activities, and over 42,000 indirectly. The foundation has approximately 30 volunteers and 140 people who perform work that benefits the community.

In terms of its environmental impact over the past year Fundació Deixalles has managed 784 tonnes of used clothes, over 900 tonnes of furniture and large waste items, 24 tonnes of paper, 10 tonnes of glass, 900 tonnes of packaging and more than 600 kg of used oil. “We collect more or less 2,000 tonnes of waste, of which around 80% can be reused”, says the director of Fundació Deixalles. “We collect anything people no longer want: clothes, books, furniture, electrical appliances, and always with the idea that they can be re-used”. All this saved over 5,000 tonnes of CO2 that were not emitted into the atmosphere. The organisation has 215 clothes bins and has set up five shops where customers can buy the recovered items as well as fair trade items.

The project has gradually extended to other areas such as the promotion of fair trade or environmental cleaning products , as well as the environmental education mentioned above.

How does Triodos Bank share your vision?

Triodos Bank supports the integration into society and the labour market of people at risk of exclusion: immigrants, the long-term unemployed, single women with families, disadvantaged young people, drug addicts, victims of gender violence, ethnic minorities and ex-convicts, among others.

With regard to nature conservation, for Triodos Bank it is fundamental to understand that safeguarding the Earth is a shared responsibility. Together, we can all contribute to the sustainable management of resources. This implies the treatment of waste, promoting the repair, reuse and recycling of all of the objects and materials that may have use in a second life.

Fundació Deixalles has managed to successfully combine social and environmental considerations. It can offer a brighter future for people in difficulties and, at the same time, minimise the impact of waste on the environment.

2015

Thera Trust
 

Social projects – Case study (photo)

Simon Conway, Company Secretary of Thera Trust.

What challenge was the inspiration for your project?

Thera supports adults with a learning disability and finding property suitable for those in need of adapted accommodation is becoming more and more difficult. Such accommodation is essential if the people we support are to be able to lead fulfilling and independent lives in their local community. While Thera has been being asked to support more people, we were often unable to take forward their support until they had found somewhere suitable to live. This inspired us to seek funding to purchase and adapt property – “an ordinary house on an ordinary street” – for people who otherwise would have nowhere suitable to live.

What was your innovation that addresses this problem?

Thera’s housing charity, Forward Housing SW, has a specialist team who work with individuals, their families and carers and wider circles of support to identify a suitable property and adapt it specifically to the needs of an individual. The property is then leased to a housing association to enable the individual to take up an assured tenancy and benefit from the security of accommodation that that provides, while the individual then benefits from the high quality day to day support provided by one of Thera’s care and support companies.

What impact has Triodos Bank had on your activities?

Triodos Bank helped Thera to raise £2 million of investment through a capital raising charity bond. Other than helping to provide a house for some of the people we support – who are some of the most vulnerable in society - Triodos Bank has opened up contact between Thera Trust and a host of new investors, who are beginning to develop an interest in the charity and the way in which we work. Triodos Bank has also helped shape our internal thought processes, helping us consider a broader range of financial options and opening the doors to different funding routes of different levels of risk and complexity.

What impact has your business had on the sector you work in?

We are proud to provide employment opportunities for people with a learning disability in director and other leadership roles across the Group. We believe that we are the only large provider of support to adults with a learning disability in the country that has paid executive directors with a learning disability on our company boards. At present, eight directors in these roles demonstrate the leadership abilities of people with a learning disability which is at the forefront of the organisation’s vision.

What impact has your business had on the community?

We believe that people with a learning disability can be leaders in society. We seek to lead by example. Having governance roles throughout the organisation held by the people with a learning disability and a range of ways in which the people we support are involved in the overall direction and management of Thera is clear demonstration of this. We seek also to support people to develop their friendships and networks in their local community and to reduce their reliance on paid formal support. At the same time we aim to build the capacity of those same communities to welcome people with a learning disability, who historically were hidden away from society, showing them that they are capable of achieving great things with the right support and encouraging the greater inclusion and awareness of the people that we support.

How does Triodos Bank share your vision?

It is important for us to work with organisations wherever we can which have an ethical focus. We were really pleased Triodos Bank was keen to work with Thera, and to involve people we support in a way which was intrinsic to the whole process. The opinions and comments of the people we support help shape what we do and how we work. Triodos Bank wanted to hear from them and were sympathetic to their needs and what they wanted. For us, it’s fantastic to work with a financial institution that is not only invested in the sustainability of our projects, but who share our passion for providing the best possible service which best meets the needs of the people we support.

Methodology

Our calculations include the number of households with a direct relationship to our finance or investment, or the number of households indirectly financed via housing associations. In this case we equate the number of households with Triodos Bank’s finance as a proportion of the overall finance.

The number of people accommodated is based on an average of 2.5 persons per household.

With the exception of the above we include 100% of the impact when we co-finance a project. If it is not possible to record 100% of the data required, we use conservative estimates.