Key facts


Current population of The Netherlands –

Data supplied by the World Bank


Current GDP of The Netherlands –
1,012,846.76 ($ millions)

Data supplied by the World Bank

World Happiness Index

The Netherlands currently ranks  7.415 out of 10.

Since 2002, the World Happiness Report has used statistical analysis to determine the world’s happiest countries. To determine the world’s happiest country, researchers analysed comprehensive Gallup polling data from 149 countries for the past three years, specifically monitoring performance in six particular categories: gross domestic product per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make your own life choices, generosity of the general population, and perceptions of internal and external corruption levels.

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Social Enterprise Data

(Source: ESEM)


Dutch Social Enterprise Monitor

Country Fact sheet: The Netherlands

Read The European Social Enterprise Monitor Report, 2021 – 2022

The European Commission is proud to support this year’s European Social Enterprise Monitor (ESEM), the second edition covering the period 2021- 2022. This report builds on the seminal work of the first ESEM 2020-2021 and has impressively scaled from eight to 21 countries in just one year across the EU and the wider European neighbourhood. It provides key data and insights for policy-makers, investors, support organisations, academia and social entrepreneurs themselves.

Country factsheet: ESEM SEs in The Netherlands

(Source: ESEM)

Perceived Political Support Grade

  • 45.5% perceive national political support for social entrepreneurship to be low, very low or non-existent

Top 3 Business Sectors (UN ISIC)

  • Human health and social work activities (22.7%)
  • Manufacturing (13.6%)
  • Wholesale and retail trade; and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (11.7%)

Company Size (OECD)

  • Micro enterprises 61.0%
  • Small enterprises 24.7%
  • Medium enterprises 9.1%
  • Large enterprises 4.5%

Top 3 UN SDGs

#8 – Decent work and economic growth (63.6%)
#3 – Good health and well-being (58.4%)
#10 – Reduced inequalities (48.1%)

Impact Management & Measurement

  • 66.9% currently measure their social/environmental impact; 18.2% plan to do so
  • 38.9% refer to the UN SDGs in impact reporting; 16.9% plan to do so

Top 3 Beneficiaries (Persons)

  • Individuals with mental illness/health problems/psychological/neurological disabilities (27.3%)
  • Long-term unemployed (26.0%)
  • Individuals with very low income/debts/in poverty (22.1%)

Top 3 Sources of External Financing

  • Public financing (31.2%)
  • Foundation funding (21.4%)
  • Impact investment (12.3%)

Funding Gap

On average, Dutch ESEM SEs only managed to secure enough funding to meet 76.1% out of 100% of their financing needs in the past 12 months. Gap = 23.9%.

Top 3 Key Barriers

  • Poor understanding/awareness of social enterprises among the general public and customers (40.9%)
  • Poor understanding/awareness of social enterprises among banks, investors and support organisations (37.7%)
  • Difficulties in maintaining or attracting customers (30.5%)


Key Stakeholders & Members

Social Enterprise NL

Type of organisation: National Network for Social Enterprises/Enterpreneurs
Website –

Social Enterprise NL is the Dutch national network for social enterprises. As a national membership body, Social Enterprise NL represents, connects and supports the growing community of social enterprises in The Netherlands. 

Social Enterprise NL aims to increase the visibility of social enterprises by:

  1. Providing support to its members: business support programs, accelerators and network events;
  2. Facilitating a favourable business environment: influence government, public bodies, corporations, and investors to break down barriers for success of social enterprises;
  3. Inspiring social and entrepreneurial action: encourage more research and education on the topic of social entrepreneurship, and by endorsing social entrepreneurs and their enterprises.

Forward Incubator

Type of organisation: Social Incubator and Accelerator

Forward Incubator is a social incubator devoted to helping newcomers pursue their
entrepreneurial dreams. ForwardInc does this by empowering them to launch, grow, fund, and sustain their own businesses.

Other Stakeholders


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Universities/Research Centres

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Key Policies

Key Legal and Policy Framework Overview


In the Netherlands no specific legal form exists for social enterprises. SSE actors usually take the forms of (i)Associations; (ii) Foundations; (iii) Cooperatives; (iv) Private companies with limited liability; (v) Public limited companies or stock corporations. All these legal persons, with the exception of limited liability companies and cooperatives, can apply for the public benefit status which yield specific tax advantages (See Financing and Support measure section).

Dutch Civil Code

Title 2.1 gives General provision concerning legal persons 
Title 2.2 deals with Associations
They are defined as “legal person with members, pursuing a particular purpose which is different from the purpose [ofcooperatives]” and have the obligation to not distribute profits among its members (Article 2:26). 
Principles of democratic governance such as one member one vote must be followed (Article 2:38 and 2:39). All Associations are registered in the Commercial register (Article 2:29).
Title 2.3 deals with Cooperatives:
They are defined as associations which “must have the purpose (objective) to provide for certain material needs of its members on the basis of contracts […] concluded with those members in the course of its business, which it conducts […]for the benefit of its members”. Nevertheless, a cooperative may “conclude the same kind of agreements with non-members […]” according to its founding documents (Article 2:53).
Cooperatives must follow rules similar to those of associations (e.g., democratic governance principles) but they do not follow any profit distribution requirements (Article 2:54a(1)). Large cooperative have somewhat different rules concerning the role of their supervisory board (section 2.3.2). 
Titles 2.4 and 2.5 deal with Private and Public limited liability companies
Title 2.6 deals with Foundations
They are defined as “legal person[s] formed by means of a juridical act, that has no members, and that intents to realise an objective (purpose), mentioned in its articles of incorporation, by using capital (property) which has been brought in for this purpose”. However the objectives “may not include the making of distributions to its founders […] or to others, except […] when these distributions are made for charitable (philanthropic) or social purposes”.
All foundations must be registered on the Commercial Register. 

Public Procurement Act (2012)

ARTICLES 2.82 and 2.82a:
Provides for the award of a contract outside of the regular procurement procedure for enterprises with more than 30% of employees having work limitations. This is known as a “reserved contract” and cannot extend a period of three years.
Reserved contracts can also be acquired by organisation which meet the following criteria: (i) mission towards the achievement of societally relevant tasks; (ii) reinvest profits towards the organisation’s mission; (iii) the organisation’s management is based on employee share ownership and/or participation principles; (iv) the contracting authority has not awarded the same contract in the three prior years. 

Financing and Support Measures

  1. Associations and foundations meeting the public benefit status experience deductions from corporation tax, VAT, inheritance tax or gift tax 
  2. Donations to organisations with public benefit status are incentivised through the possibility for the donor to deduct the donation from its taxable income up to 10% of its total. 
  3. For LLC deductions are present for the self-employed and start-ups. 
  4. Cooperatives are exempt from the payment of the dividend tax
  5. Many funds and financing programs such as the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF), GO-ETFF, Innovation Credit, and ISDE are available for all enterprises with a specific mission. Also, social enterprises specific programs such as the Support for social enterprise in Amsterdam, Subside for sustainable initiatives, and others are present.
  6. European Funds such as ESF, EaSI and Horizon also play an important role in the Netherlands
  7. A wide variety of informal investors is also available in the Netherlands. 

Key policy documents

Funding Partners

Relevant Resources

Relevant Research Experts

Wiebke Heinze

PhD Candidate Wiebke Heinze PhD Candidate Netherlands Universities & Institutions Maastricht University Areas of Interest Social entrepreneurship Collective entrepreneurship Cross-sector partnerships Entrepreneurial ecosystems Wiebke Heinze is a PhD Candidate in Social Entrepreneurship at the Department of Organization, Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University. She obtained her MSc in [...]

Philip Marcel Karré

Assistant Professor Philip Marcel Karré Netherlands Universities & Institutions Erasmus University Rotterdam Areas of Interest Governing and managing hybridity Hybrid organizations Social entrepreneurship Philip Marcel Karré is Assistant Professor Policy, Politics & Society at the Department of Public Administration & Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), the Netherlands. He is interested in social enterprises [...]

Peter van der Zwan

PhD Peter van der Zwan The Netherlands Universities & Institutions Leiden University Areas of Interest Entrepreneurial finance Role of entrepreneurs within the economy Wellbeing Dr. Peter van der Zwan is an associate professor at the Department of Business Studies at Leiden Law School. He obtained his MSc in Econometrics (2007) and PhD in Economics [...]

Brigitte Hoogendoorn

PhD Brigitte Hoogendoorn The Netherlands Universities & Institutions Erasmus School of Economics Areas of Interest Entrepreneurship Senior entrepreneurship Social entrepreneurship Sustainability Brigitte Hoogendoorn is an Assistant Professor at the Erasmus School of Economics. Brigitte Hoogendoorn (1972) graduated in economics at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in 1996. Subsequently, she started her professional [...]

Giuseppe Criaco

Giuseppe Criaco The Netherlands Universities & Institutions Erasmus University Rotterdam Areas of Interest Entrepreneurship Family Business Giuseppe Criaco is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Department of Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. Giuseppe’s research focuses on three main themes: (a) the effect of pre-entry experience and post-entry [...]

Hans Wevers

Teacher, Researcher & PhD Candidate Hans Wevers Netherlands Universities & Institutions Open Universiteit Areas of Interest Entrepreneurship development Business model innovation Biography Hans Wevers is a Teacher and Researcher at the Open University Netherlands, where is currently also pursuing a PhD on the potential role of social entrepreneurship in the EU Cohesion Policy and its [...]

Reinout Kleinhans

Associate Professor Reinout Kleinhans Netherlands Universities & Institutions TU Delft Areas of Interest Urban regeneration Self-organisation Community entrepreneurship Online/offline citizen engagement Social capital Collective efficacy Dr Kleinhans is Associate Professor of Urban Regeneration at the Department of Urbanism at Delft University of Technology. Recently, he has also been appointed as Delft Education Fellow 2020-2021. [...]

Albert Meijer

Professor Albert Meijer Netherlands Universities & Institutions University of Utrecht School of Governance Areas of Interest Co-Production E-Governance Innovation Open Data Albert Jacob Meijer is Professor of Public Management at the University of Utrecht School of Governance. Albert studied chemistry at the University of Nijmegen and communication science at Wageningen University. After finishing his studies, [...]

Karin Geuijen

Assistant Professor Karin Geuijen Netherlands Universities & Institutions Utrecht School of Governance Areas of Interest Refugees Public Organisations Service Innovation Networks Entrepreneurship Karin Geuijen is assistant professor at Utrecht University School of Governance. She coordinates the master programme Public Management and the honours programme Young Innovators. Karin's main research interests focus on the role which [...]

Taco Brandsen

Professor Taco Brandsen Netherlands Universities & Institutions Radboud University EMES Areas of Interest Public services Taco Brandsen is Professor of public administration at Radboud University, The Netherlands. He has conducted extensive research on how social innovation, public sector innovation and on how goverments collaborate with citizens, civil society and social enterprises. He is Vice-President [...]

Sjoerd Kamerbeek

Sjoerd Kamerbeek Netherlands Universities & Institutions Utrecht University Areas of Interest Corporate law Corporate governance Venture capital Social entrepreneurship Lecturer; Board Member; Lawyer Sjoerd specializes in corporate law, in which he is particularly involved in advising on stakeholder management and assisting companies in disputes and procedures in the field of commercial and corporate litigation. [...]

Rob van Tulder

Professor Rob van Tulder Netherlands Universities & Institutions RSM Erasmus University Research & Expertise Business & society management Sustainability United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Cross-sector partnerships Multinational enterprise strategies High-tech industries Corporate social responsibility Issues management Skills development Network strategies Smaller industrial countries European Community/ Union policies Rob van Tulder is a professor of [...]


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