Stronger together in Spakenburg

Bank profits stimulate the entire region

Preserving the historic harbour and fishing boats in Spakenburg. Keeping Nijkerk’s shops open and business flourishing. Improving community life in Putten. Bringing elderly people in Ermelo in contact with their neighbours. Stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship around Harderwijk. Five key initiatives that Rabobank Randmeren has made possible, thanks to Rabobank’s cooperative dividend.

Rabobank has had a share in building stronger communities for many years by supporting a wide range of local economic and social initiatives. Rabobank sets apart a portion of our net profit for this purpose every year. The local members of the bank ultimately decide how that money is spent. The ‘cooperative dividend’ allows Rabobank to leave a lasting, positive mark on the Netherlands.

Not a passing fad

Rabobank Randmeren proved that cooperative dividend is not just a passing fad in 2015. For the second time, Rabobank has organised a competition and awards for the Stronger Together Fund, called ‘Samen Sterker Fund’ in Dutch. ‘The fund allows us to promote initiatives that boost economic vitality, quality of life and sustainability in the municipalities where our offices reside,’ says Christel Hoeksema, Cooperative Advisor at Rabobank Randmeren. ‘These municipalities are Harderwijk, Ermelo, Putten, Nijkerk and Bunschoten-Spakenburg.’

Connecting people

The local Rabobanks looked for initiatives that dovetailed with the objectives of the Stronger Together Fund between February and September 2015. ‘This was done in close consultation with parties such as municipalities and business associations. And that is what makes the Stronger Together Fund so powerful,’ Hoeksema explains.

In total about 20 initiatives were put forward to take part in the competition. ‘Together with the municipalities, we longlisted the initiatives with the most added value and the most potential in terms of strengthening the local community in each town. In October and November these initiatives competed in the race for the award. We then gave the community the chance to vote on Facebook on how the cooperative dividend was to be distributed. Rabobank members were also able to vote for their favourite initiative. This ultimately resulted in five winners.’

Winner of the 2015 Stronger Together Fund competition:
Spakenburg – a living harbor

Spakenburg harbour takes visitors on a journey to a bygone era. The historic museum harbour holds the Netherlands’ largest fleet of Dutch fishing boats called ‘botters’ and the oldest Dutch boatyard. This makes for a truly unique setting. Unfortunately, preserving this cultural heritage is not something that just happens. The wooden botters are very costly to maintain. If these boats were to disappear, the particular craftsmanship and knowledge would disappear as well.

Together with owners and organisations, the initiative ‘Spakenburg – A Living Harbour’ aims to preserve the Dutch boatyard, the fishing boats and consequently the old harbour of Spakenburg. The prize money has gone towards materials to communicate and publicise their master plan.

Second place in the 2015 Stronger Together Fund competition:
Nijkerk – Lokaler App

Local shops and food establishments have both a retail function and a social function. Local business owners are often the main sponsors of associations and association-led activities, such as a parade for Dutch ‘Sinterklaas’. Local businesses advertise in local newsletters and magazines and provide youth with their first jobs. When shops close down, it has a negative effect on all these initiatives.

The Lokaler app allows Nijkerk-based businesses to keep in touch with one another and their customers. An extensive selection of shops, activities and events help attract customers to the town’s shopping district and stimulate the local economy. Thanks to advanced measurement data, the local government and retail associations can join forces to improve shopping convenience and the quality of life in Nijkerk. The prize money allows the initiators to further develop their app.

Putten - Present Foundation (Stichting Present)

On the eve of 5 December, collecting Saint Nicholas or Dutch ‘Sinterklaas’ gifts and donating them to families in need is an excellent example of the good work the charity ‘Foundation Present’ in Putten does. In cooperation with, a cooperative and nationwide platform founded with help from Rabobank, Present Foundation in Putten aims to create a more socially-minded community. Present Foundation believes that neighbourliness is still alive. People are still prepared to help others and get involved in their communities. Present Foundation acts as a bridge between people who have something to offer and those who need help. The prize money goes towards raising awareness for the charity and launching similar initiatives in the cities of Ermelo and Nijkerk.

Ermelo - Klup App

Klup is an innovative, social platform for elderly people looking for companionship who often live alone without nearby family or friends. On the initiative of the Red Cross in Ermelo, Klup created an app that connects seniors with each other and to local organisations based on location and shared interests.

The app allows ‘kluppers’ to visit each other at home or go out for an activity together. All they have to do is download the Klup app, follow a few simple steps to create a profile, and search for people in their community who would also like some companionship. Klup spent the prize money on developing the app, which was launched on 30 January 2016.

Harderwijk – The Diamond of Central Netherlands

The North Veluwe region is in the central part of the Netherlands and is an attractive area because of its entrepreneurial culture, innovativeness and exceptional work ethic. But many people both inside and outside of North Veluwe are not aware of the opportunities the region has to offer. The Diamond of Central Netherlands is on a mission to change that.

To raise awareness and strengthen the local economy, The Diamond has launched a knowledge and networking platform where business owners, educational institutions and local governments can collaborate, exchange knowledge and explore market opportunities. The prize money will go towards setting up Innovation Class, a format designed to put young people with innovative ideas in touch with business owners, investors and trainers. The format will first be launched in Harderwijk and then be made available to the rest of the North Veluwe region.