Due in part to urgings by Princess Máxima, three big banks and the Bank for Dutch Councils (BNG) are setting aside 30 million euros for microfinance in the Netherlands. It’s a move that will make it possible for hundreds of Dutch entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses.
The money will be loaned by Qredits, a nationally operating Dutch microcredit organisation. One and a half years ago, Qredits was set up with an initial sum of 15 million euros. Since then it has issued 865 microcredits to individuals who either wanted to start a new business or expand an existing one. With the extra 30 million, it will be able to offer a further 1500 microcredits with a maximum value of 35,000 euros.
Maria van der Hoeven, the Minister for Economic Affairs, believes that her ministry must, in these difficult economic times, do everything it can to support independent businessmen and women. That’s why this week she is signing the new agreement with Princess Máxima, who’s a member of the Council for Microfinance. Both the council and the princess have played an important intermediary role in making the extra credit a reality. The government will stand surety for 80 percent of each loan.
“Qredits’ clients,” says Roy Spit, the organisation’s manager, “are mainly people with a good business plan but no access to standard credit facilities. They can submit a business plan online. If that’s good enough, one of financial advisers will then pay a visit to discus it further with them. Of the 865 start-ups [we’ve helped] only ten have failed.”
When considering a loan, Qredits looks at the feasibility of the plan and not at the borrowers’ possible debts. “Anyone can make an application. The only businesses excluded are those connected with the tobacco, sex or weapons trades.”
The Qredits website shows that its clients include all sorts of entrepreneurs: for example, a cake-maker, fashion designers, a grilled chicken seller and a tailor. Roy Spit says two fashion designers have done extremely well. “They took their collection to Milan and were very successful. They paid off their loan in a couple of months.”
Entrepreneurs who receive a loan from Qredits must permit themselves to be coached during, and after, the start-up of their businesses. “They can choose the coach themselves,” says Roy Spit. “Some coaches offer their services for free; others request a fee.”
Maria van der Hoeven says it’s the intention that, eventually, Qredits will be able to offer loans without government financing.
Visit the Qredits website here.