Rabobank to help businesses with circular enterprise

Rabobank is going to help entrepreneurs make their business models more sustainable and over the next five years will be entering into dialogue with 15,000 wholesale clients on the subject of circular enterprise. In the circular economy, used products are processed into new raw materials, thereby completely eliminating waste and giving rise to new forms of collaboration and earnings models.

Over the past few years, through the Rabo Circular Business Challenge the bank has been working with entrepreneurs to help encourage them to reuse raw materials and reduce the drain on the planet's resources - in other words, promoting circular enterprise. Once the challenge is complete, entrepreneurs have an action plan that's ready to put into use immediately.

The result of the first 200 challenges were pretty spectacular: businesses saw their footprint shrink and their reputation grow. They established new contacts, formed new partnerships and tapped into new target markets. Sales rose accordingly.

One-third of the participating businesses achieved a direct financial benefit from circularity. Another third expect to benefit financially from the circular economy in the near future. Three-quarters of participants have made circularity part of their business strategy.

The Challenge proves that truly any business can help make our economy more circular. From cleaning products firm Orienza to construction company Pleijsier. And from furniture maker Thereca to livestock construction firm Van Beek & Zn and car mat manufacturer Visscher-Caravelle.

The impact of the Challenge goes further than making participants’ business models more sustainable. Entrepreneurs are often dependent on one another to achieve their circular targets; Business A’s waste is Business B’s raw material. This means that the circular economy will gradually spread to more and more Dutch businesses.

Circularity is a key part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In order to preserve the livability of the planet, it’s essential that we reuse raw materials. The fact that entrepreneurs appreciate the pressing nature of this need has been confirmed by a survey of 297 international businesses conducted by Bain & Company. No less than 90 percent of businesses realize that they urgently need to make their business model more sustainable. That’s why in the Government-wide Programme for a Circular Economy, it has been agreed that the Dutch economy should be fully circular by 2050.

‘As a bank, we have an important role to play in promoting the circular economy’, says Rabobank’s Sustainability & Circularity Program Manager Martje Fraaije. ‘That’s why we now make circularity a standard part of our dialogue with wholesale clients.’

Through the Rabo Circular Business Challenge, Rabobank plays a key role in promoting the circular economy, says Maria van der Heijden, director of MVO Nederland. ‘For MVO Nederland, circular enterprise is mainly about doing business with each other and for each other. One entrepreneur’s challenge is another’s solution.’ Rabobank has an extensive network of wholesale clients and actively brings businesses together to help them work in partnership towards circular production. ‘This means that they’re doing exactly what we, at MVO Nederland, consider so important,’ says Ms Van der Heijden.