Rabobank: There’s more to financing than bank loans

Entrepreneurs who present a solid business plan deserve tailor-made financing, and Rabobank and its customers seek to explore options beyond a bank loan alone. That, in a nutshell, is the story of the entrepreneurs behind Nieuwegein-based fulfilment company Active Ants: the customer story highlighted in Rabobank’s new ‘Invested in each other’ campaign to be launched on Monday 30 November. Active Ants manages the complete order fulfilment process for online retailers across the Netherlands. For the campaign, company owners Jean Lahaye and Jeroen Dekker talk about their ambition to create an innovative and fully robotised order picking system and how Rabobank enabled them to finance their goal. They would not have been able to manage this with a bank loan alone, but they were able to meet their financing needs by ‘stacking’ the loan with additional sources of funding.

‘Stacked’ funding
‘The Netherlands has excellent resources and support structures in place for entrepreneurs. Since small- and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of our economy, it’s very important that businesses can secure financial backing to achieve their plans,’ says Marcel Gerritsen, Business Finance Director at Rabobank. A current trend that seems here to stay is combining bank loans with other resources to create new, hybrid forms of financing – a phenomenon known as ‘stacking’. Rabobank supports and advises businesses in securing tailor-made forms of financing, which could mean either a basic bank loan or a mixed arrangement consisting of various forms of financing combined. Marcel Gerritsen: ‘We are aware that two in three businesses do not consider exploring options beyond a bank loan when applying for credit, when in fact opening themselves up to alternative sources of funding is exactly what they should be doing, now and in the future. If they’re looking to make high-risk investments, for example, venture capital would likely be the best avenue to consider. Rabobank can act as a linking pin for businesses searching for an appropriate form of financing. We have strong roots in this part of the country and are intimately familiar with and experienced with a variety of industries. We always know which businesses have a need for financing and which ones have the funds available to invest. This gives us a very good vantage point from which to support businesses in securing the funding they need, whether it’s by providing a bank loan or by putting the business in touch with other investors.’ 
Invested in each other
As with previous TV adverts, the ‘Invested in each other’ campaign spotlights Rabobank customers, who are given the opportunity to share their stories. The new advert takes a look at the successful e-fulfilment company Active Ants: It’s an inspiring account of how the growth of online retail combined with the strong customer focus of company owners Jean Lahaye and Jeroen Dekker has fuelled the company’s growth and expansion. ‘We want to be the very best in our industry, and we will need to start working even more efficiently to provide the best possible service to our customers. That means we need to automate and mechanise our processes,’ Jeroen Dekker explains. Of course, they must first secure funding to achieve their goal.
‘We had never made an investment anywhere near 2.5 million euros before, and we weren’t sure the bank would take our application seriously. But when we contacted our local Rabobank Utrechtse Waarden and presented our solid business plan, they told us they’d see what they could do and ended up really coming through for us. We didn’t know about all the different forms of financing out there, other than your run-of-the-mill bank loan. But Rabobank did a good job briefing us, so we could start looking for a financing mix that would really work for our plan,’ says a satisfied Jean Lahaye. By creatively combining a bank loan with an EIB discount, a government guarantee and leasing and factoring facilities, Active Ants will now be able to achieve its future goals. And the ambitious entrepreneurs are indirectly also contributing to the success of the numerous online retailers they serve, who provide a wide range of products and services to the consumer market.
Local Rabobanks throughout the country will be organising events over the next few months for businesses in need of financing. The Rabo Meet & Grow events serve as a meeting place and platform for businesses with a need for funds and companies willing to share both their resources and their knowhow. Rabobank also puts informal investors in touch with entrepreneurs looking for capital, knowhow and contacts through the Money Meets Ideas platform. Rabobank is one of the initiators of Fundipal, a platform that guides businesses through the world of crowdfunding so they can use it as a supplementary form of financing. For smaller loans, businesses can complete a loan application online in five easy steps (at a time and location that suits them) and be informed within no time whether their application has been approved.
Facts about business financing
* 61% of businesses have a need for clear, easily accessible information to help them secure an appropriate form of financing. (source: TNS Nipo) 
* Leasing (90%), crowdfunding (83%) and financing facilities such as supplier credit (70%) are examples of common forms of business financing. (source: TNS Nipo) 
* 31% of businesses have considered lending funds from providers other than banks; 42% lack proper access to alternative sources of funding. (source: TNS Nipo) 
* Local Rabobanks across the Netherlands provide financial services to more than 800,000 business customers. A total of 225,000 of these businesses apply for financing, which might range from loans and various credit facilities to bank guarantees.
* Local Rabobanks have approximately EUR 130 billion in outstanding credit to Dutch businesses, including roughly EUR 35 billion in the food and agricultural sector.
* Local Rabobanks provide a total of EUR 40 million in new/refinancing facilities to Dutch businesses 
* The bulk (80%) of loan capital extended to businesses in the Netherlands is provided by banks. This amount runs into the numerous billions, while supplier credit, leasing and bonds account for the remainder (the latter being used in particular for large companies).
A relatively small portion (less than one billion) consists of supplemental sources of financing such as crowdfunding, Qredits and credit unions.
For more information, see: www.rabobank.nl/hetnieuwefinancieren

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