New member Rabobank supports businesses across the seaweed chain


'We want to accelerate the food and protein transition'

Rabobank recently joined the North Sea Farmers network. The bank, which has roots in the agri-food sector, wants to accelerate the food and protein transition based on its social commitment. Reason why it wants to support members of North Sea Farmers with its network, knowledge and financial solutions.

Why did Rabobank join North Sea Farmers?

'We have the social mission of food and climate transition in which Rabobank has traditionally had a strong presence,' says Maurice Dame, Director Rabobank Westland and responsible for the strategic theme Banking4Food. 'In addition, we have a mission as a bank to remain commercially relevant. That means we have to dare to invest in new networks, technologies, startups, scale-ups.

That is sometimes in big dreams, but also in small steps. We therefore consciously invest in these kinds of networks to gather knowledge, to connect and to see how we can take steps together in the transitions the world needs. In this respect, the seaweed community is still relatively new to us, but we can make connections with the knowledge of other sectors and we know what developments are taking place. By learning, you can also deliver as a bank.

In doing so, of course, we remain a bank in a system with rules and supervision. But Sander I am very much of If Rabo can't deliver, you'll hear about it.'

Why seaweed?

Sander: 'Seaweed is hugely versatile, which never ceases to amaze me. It's protein transition, food, feed, circular, biobased. These are all topics we tap into because we understand the transitions we need to go through as a world.'

Maurice: 'We need alternative sources of protein to feed the world, seaweed is one of them. We very consciously seek out parties who are learning and investing in this. That way we gain knowledge as a bank, and we also learn how to adjust our propositions to be able to invest in that development.'

What can North Sea Farmers members turn to you for?

Maurice: 'Roughly for three things: providing knowledge, providing a network where we can connect you with other parties - national or international - and financial solutions, specifically for the startups. We are a bank that is big in knowledge, we have a big national and international network and, of course, we are also a financier.'

Sander: 'Rabobank is a cooperative, part of our profit goes back to society, through promising initiatives that make the world a better place. That ultimately ties back into our mission: growing a better world together. We can give startups a push at the beginning of their development, for instance in the form of a donation from our Impact Fund.

For start-ups, we have a variety of products at every stage. For the early-stage start-up that wants to put up a demo or a project with other parties, we can make a donation from our cooperative dividend.

The phase after that, we have the Rabo innovation loan, specifically for startups. And for the phase where you make your first turnover, we can often finance in combination with Innovation Quarter or another regional development company.

During your startup's journey, we will give you a dedicated account manager who also specialises in startups.' Maurice: 'Startups spend a substantial amount of time raising funding. Then personal contact is super important. You hope you are understood.'

Sander: 'funding is a very concrete need, but we can often also find a launching customer for a startup, or an important network partner that is of great use to you. We can also share knowledge by connecting our member councils with your company, for example.  Sometimes that knowledge has more impact than the donation or funding the startup received.'

Which part of the chain do you focus on?

'We look at the whole chain because we can, the whole chain banks with us. As a result, we also know the challenges and can advise on them. We are bankers from start-up to scale-up to scaler, so you can go in many directions with us. The most important thing is, where is the demand from the party that wants to move forward and how can we help it?

Almost half of Dutch entrepreneurs have a relationship with the bank, and they also need to get through the protein and climate transition. So if pioneers in this community have a solution that a regular company wants to take up, we can bring them together.'

Donation of the Rabo Impact Funds with, from right to left: Advisory council member Carlo Verhart (Rabobank), Eef Brouwers (NSF), June kromjongh (NSF) and Bram Naves (NSF)