So does Martijn Schneider (34). He helps sustainable and innovative companies take things a step further. Whether it’s with financing or by connecting them with the right people within the bank. Martijn sees innovative opportunities.
“I’m the main contact for about a hundred of our SME customers. I like the fact that you speak to many entrepreneurs with different qualities. I also learn a lot from them. For example, the type of entrepreneur really makes the difference. You can still have such an innovative product, but you always have to test your product/market fit. I like to help entrepreneurs think about the data and specifics of their product before they go to market. I’m still in the perfect position at the bank at the moment, but entrepreneurial blood is crawling where it can’t go. I already have experience in setting up sustainable initiatives and someday I want to start working as an entrepreneur myself. Before I joined the bank, I set up a microfinance organisation (CASUD) in Ghana together with my little brother. He still runs it today and is very successful at it. The experience I am gaining now, I want to apply myself later on.
‘I go the extra mile for innovative and sustainable entrepreneurs. It is often more difficult for them to get financing. Their ideas are so new that we cannot test them against the market and existing data. Usually all signals for financing are then initially on red. Then you have to be creative. If I believe in an idea, I spar with my manager or the credit rating agency and together we look at what might be possible. If such financing goes ahead, it’s a win-win: for the entrepreneur, but also for us as a bank. Only in this way do we really learn to understand circulars and new business plans.’
‘It’s not always possible to arrange financing. In that case, I can often still help entrepreneurs by linking them to someone at the bank. Take ‘Closing the Loop‘, a cool initiative from a Dutch social entrepreneur. Old telephones are often reused in Africa, but eventually end up in the sea or the jungle. Closing the Loop buys those phones and recycles all the components. I put the owner of this organisation in contact with our Head of Purchasing. Now for every new Rabobank phone a few euros goes to Closing the Loop. In this way, our phones have become a bit more circular again.’
‘Another great initiative we support is GreenHome. They help homeowners to make their homes more sustainable. I brought GreenHome into contact with the Rabobank Nederland sustainability team. Now, every mortgage conversation with GreenHome is accompanied by a scan of the house to be bought. We are now going to expand our partnership, so there will be an experience center in Amsterdam. Here you can make a GreenHome scan of your house and see what you can do to make it more sustainable: from solar panels to heat pumps. This is what I like about my work: it’s cool to look beyond pure efficiency with innovative entrepreneurs and go for the social impact.’