Amsterdam's Impact Days take social shopping to 'next level'

Shoppers, company bosses and government officials in the Netherlands are being urged to spend their money with responsible businesses this week, as part of a campaign run by the City of Amsterdam.

The Impact Days, first run in 2018 and taking place on 19-21 November this year, aim to spotlight the entrepreneurs helping to build a more sustainable and inclusive world. The three-day digital event is part of Amsterdam Impact, a broader initiative set up in 2015 to strengthen the ecosystem for social enterprise.

Ellen Oetelmans, Amsterdam Impact's programme manager, told Pioneers Post she had seen “a substantial increase” in enthusiasm for and awareness of buying social in recent years. 

The series of ‘pitch-and-match’ events run by Amsterdam Impact, national network body Social Enterprise NL and other municipalities have so far led to more than 40 deals between impact enterprises and buyers from other companies and organisations. “These deals show that impact entrepreneurs create good quality products and services that can be scaled to fulfil the demand of larger organisations,” Oetelmans said. 

These deals show that impact entrepreneurs create good quality products and services that can fulfil the demand of larger organisations

Roetz circular design bikesJust under a quarter of Dutch consumers are already aware of their ecological footprint and take sustainability seriously, according to a recent study. The 2020 edition of The Impact Days aims to reach a different target group – the 23% of the population categorised as ‘status-conscious’. This group is generally excited about the future and socially involved through entrepreneurship and innovation. “To attract them, we wanted to focus on the cutting-edge aspects of impact enterprises and to show that making a positive change through business is ‘next-level’,” Oetelmans said. 

This is the theme of the 2020 Impact Days campaign, which has set up a virtual ‘next-level city’, featuring 180 entrepreneurs from across the Netherlands. Next-level entrepreneurs are defined as pioneers of creating positive change through business – those who “inspire and lead the way”, said Oetelmans. 

Loop.a Life circular knitwearExamples of businesses featured this week are Little Plant Pantry, a minimal-waste supermarket; Roetz, which creates design bicycles (pictured above) from abandoned bikes while providing bike mechanic training to people facing employment obstacles; and Loop. a Life, which is pioneering circular knitwear (pictured right) made from discarded clothing.  

Oetelmans said organisations and individuals could show solidarity through conscious purchasing. 

“In these times of uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 crisis, impact entrepreneurs need our collective support more than ever.”

Amsterdam claims to be the first municipality in the country to have created an action programme for social entrepreneurship. Other strong supporters include The Hague, billed the ‘ImpactCity’ thanks to the funding, physical spaces, competitions and annual Impact Fest conference designed to attract and nurture social startups. 


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