IHS joins the Dutch City Deal on Impact Entrepreneurship

During the Global Goals Meet-Up of VNG International, the State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy launched the 27th City Deal: Impact Entrepreneurship. IHS is a partner in this deal and it will be playing a role in the urban network learning process linked to the CLOSERCITIES initiative. No less than 80 municipalities, provinces, ministries, organisations, knowledge institutions, entrepreneurs and other parties joined this deal.

The City Deal was launched during the Global Goals Meet-up, an event organized by VNG International (the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities), in which Dutch municipalities come together to learn and exchange lessons on how to make use of the SDGs as a tool for integrated sustainability policies. The event was opened by Jan van Zanen, mayor of The Hague and chairman of the VNG. He was followed by the State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Mona Keijzer, who kicked off the City Deal. 

Impact entrepreneurship

In the Netherlands, many entrepreneurs focus on the social dimension of the business and on creating a positive impact in society, whether it concerns healthcare, climate, education or labor market participation. Despite being committed to a good cause, social entrepreneurs often encounter legal and bureaucratic barriers. The City Deal aims to reduce these barriers and promote social businesses. This partnership is meant to build up the impact ecosystem by creating a network of knowledge sharing and support for the entrepreneurs. 

According to the state secretary, the cabinet wants to give way to these social entrepreneurs by working on a separate legal form that recognizes the social aspect of their business. The cabinet also wants to make doing business easier for social entrepreneurs through better cooperation between governments. There will also be a liaison officer who will bring social entrepreneurs into contact with the right experts more easily. In addition, to have a common ground on what constitutes corporate social responsibility, an unambiguous measuring instrument will be introduced. 

The City Deal focuses on strengthening the impact ecosystem by stimulating network formation, designing revenue models for social challenges, focusing on the continued growth and scaling up of impact entrepreneurs and by making financing flows more accessible for impact entrepreneurs. 

Three tracks 

  1. The government organization track focuses on breaking institutional silos that social entrepreneurs face when working from municipalities by using a brokerage team that reaches across departments and domains to achieve social goals together with the entrepreneurs. 
  1. The office and network track increases awareness of existing regulations and support for impact-first entrepreneurs and increases knowledge about social entrepreneurship among regular SMEs. 
  1. The financial track increases visibility of and facilitates access to financing flows from government funds for social entrepreneurs.

Over the next three years, the 80 parties will work together to stimulate social entrepreneurship and to facilitate positive impact in their various fields of action.

Administrative innovation

In City Agenda (Agenda Stad), municipalities, social partners and the central government work together on innovation in Dutch cities. That takes place in the form of City Deals. City Deals are an innovative collaboration form, in which authorities work with each other and with social partners and private parties on coming up with the best solutions for complex urban issues. The approach is thematic: cities with similar issues are brought together, to come up with innovative solutions. This way of working stimulates mutual understanding, knowledge exchange, experimenting and collaboration. Leaders in cities have the space to work around a theme and find new solutions, while questioning existing practices and funding models. They can learn from their peers in other cities what works well or not. 

The City Deal approach has been recognized by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, NSOB and Utrecht University as a powerful example of administrative innovation. In 2019, City Deals was awarded a Best Practice certificate during the European Public Sector Awards. In addition to City Deals, there are also other multilevel governance instruments such as Regional Deals and Woondeals. You can read more about this in the City Deal Factsheet (in Dutch).

More information

More about the launch event

More about the City Deal


Cover photo: Rotterdam Image Bank

City Deal Partners photo and video source: agendastad.nl