29 May 2019

Dutch Cabinet explores feasibility of new legal form of social enterprise

The Dutch Council of Ministers has decided to actively improve the regulations and the playing field for companies with social or societal goals. State Secretary Keijzer of Economic Affairs and Climate will therefore commission a new study into the desirability of introducing a new legal form for these companies, in line with conclusions from a recent research report by Utrecht University.

Social enterprises are important to society because they play a role in tackling social issues in areas such as energy and climate, healthcare, education and security at home and abroad. The government acknowledges the importance and potential of social enterprises and aims to further stimulate social entrepreneurship, for example by developing appropriate regulations for enterprises with social or societal objectives.

Explore bv-m

Late 2018, State Secretary Mona Keijzer of Economic Affairs and Climate commissioned the Utrecht University Social Entrepreneurship Initiative to carry out research into (legal) instruments to stimulate social entrepreneurship while safeguarding a level playing field. This research shows that exploring a so-called ‘light version’ of a bv-m is a relevant option for stimulating social entrepreneurship as a social variant of the existing bv. An important added value of bv-m, according to the research, would be that it can better guarantee the continuation of the social objective of the company, e.g. in the face of a change of directors and shareholders. In addition, the introduction of the bv-m contributes to stimulating the recognition of social entrepreneurship in society.

Additional research

Based on the Utrecht University study and the recently published OECD report 'Boosting Social Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprises Development in the Netherlands', the Dutch Cabinet sees the importance of further stimulating and facilitating the activities of social enterprises. The government will therefore further explore the introduction of possible new variants, such as the bv-m. The introduction of a new (variant of a) legal form is a legally far-reaching measure, the implications of which are currently insufficiently clear, so that additional research is needed first. This was also recommended in the UU study, stating that the expected uptake of a bv-m was to be investigated among Dutch firms, in connection to the criteria that will be set for it.

State Secretary Mona Keijzer (EZK): "Entrepreneurs, civil society organisations, researchers and politicians all consider a further exploration of the needs of social entrepreneurs and the possibilities for better recognition and recognition of these companies to be necessary. That is why the government is actively working on this issue, because it is important for both our society and our economy."

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