Exploring the Personal Drive Behind Small Social-Venture Set-Ups in the Netherlands: Encounters With Local Help and Hindrance

Exploring the Personal Drive Behind Small Social-Venture Set-Ups in the Netherlands: Encounters With Local Help and Hindrance

Ido de Vries (University of Applied Sciences Leiden, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6298-6.ch004


This chapter describes the development and growth of small social ventures in the Netherlands. It focusses on the motivations and purposes of owner-operator and micro or small scale social entrepreneurs creating social value in the transition of the Dutch welfare domain. Local municipalities are developing policies to support those social venture set-ups. But dealing with local policies is found not to be an easy task for small scale social entrepreneurs. Two aspects of the hindrance for social venture start-ups are elaborated: the hybridity of social entrepreneurship, combining social value logic and the logic of entrepreneurship; and the difficulties of dealing with different aspects of policies of cities in the Netherlands. An ecological system supportive for small social venture creation respecting the personal purpose of social entrepreneurs is outlined.
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The number of social enterprises is on the increase in the Netherlands (Keizer, Stikkers, Heijmans, Carsouw & Aanholt, 2016). Since 2015, the policies put forward by the national government have aimed at making people more responsible for organising and managing their own lives. To do this, they introduced the much-debated concept of the ´participation´ society or the ´do-it-yourself´ society (Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties [BZK], 2013). Driven by austerity measures and central government budget cuts brought about by the world financial crisis and then by the euro crisis, Dutch cities and villages are currently responsible for almost all the welfare arrangements for young people, the elderly and the unemployed. This welfare reform, introduced in 2015, brought about a major change in the responsibilities and budgets of municipalities in the Netherlands. It was a reform that forced citizens to turn more towards self-regulation and empowerment. People were obliged, to organise their own solutions and to become less dependent on professional care and welfare organisations. As a way of ´taking things into their own hands´, some people responded to this development by becoming social entrepreneurs. Others saw in this development an opportunity to start their own social venture by offering the services needed to empower others and create more local and societal bonding. Their main aim was to provide remedies for local problems that the government and the economic market had failed to solve,

Key Terms in this Chapter

Micro: Social Enterprise: Micro-enterprises are very small service organizations employing no more than five people (full time or equivalent).

Small Social Enterprise: Small social enterprises have 5-49 employees.

Empathy: Empathy is a trait that is both emotional and rational: emotional in the sense that it leads to sharing feelings – sensing the feelings of others, and having the cognitive ability to understand the feelings of others; to mentally step into other people’s shoes.

Compassion: Compassion is being linked emotionally, as an individual, to a suffering community. So compassion covers bigger entities, such as the community. Compassion leads to processes such as those that (1) increase integrative thinking, (2) induce pro-social judgements regarding the costs and benefits of social entrepreneurship, and (3) foster commitment to alleviate the suffering of others.

Hybridity: Social entrepreneurs have to follow two contrasting logics simultaneously: the logic of entrepreneurship—earning money by selling products or services, and the logic of solving social problems—adding social value for, and with, others.

Social Entrepreneurship: A set of interlocking opportunity-based, context-bound, activities undertaken by skilled and purposeful individuals who try to make a difference in society through their actions and act as social change agents.

Entrepreneurship: Is characterized by not being afraid to take risks, organizing innovations, the need to achieve, the need to be independent and proactiveness.

Self-Efficacy: People’s beliefs in their capabilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources and courses of action needed to exercise control over events in their lives.

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