Crowdfunding in the Netherlands: everything you need to know
Written by Lucas Weaver on 15 September 2022
The Netherlands was one of the earliest adopters of crowdfunding in all of Europe. With platforms ranging from startup equity crowdfunding to real estate debt investments, there is plenty to offer the potential Dutch crowdfunder.
The basics of crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is the concept of providing funding to a project that you are interested in together with other individuals. Let’s use some examples to make things simple.
The entrepreneur perspective
Sally wants to start her own business building and selling sailboats. She has a unique new design idea that she thinks would be popular with sailing enthusiasts.
She’s convinced she can be successful with her business idea, but she knows it will require a large amount of startup cash, and she doesn’t have much money.
Sally decides to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for her new company: Sally’s Sailboats. She researches she needs 1 million EUR to build the first prototypes, so she begins to investigate her options.
Sally could raise the funding via a debt crowdfunding platform. This means she would get a loan from the investors on the platform that she would have to pay back over time.
After speaking with project managers at a debt platform, she realizes that debt crowdfunding is usually for businesses that are already making money via existing sales. These companies can already show investors that they can pay their loans back based on their current revenues.
This isn’t right for Sally because she hasn’t made her first sale yet. Her business is in the “pre-revenue” stage. Someone recommends her to try equity crowdfunding, so she decides to see if that’s a better fit for her.
Equity crowdfunding is normally used by more early-stage companies, often ones that either don’t have revenues yet or aren’t yet profitable. With an equity investment, Sally would offer investors the chance to own a percentage of her new company in exchange for money up front that she can use to start the business.
Equity is an attractive option for entrepreneurs like Sally because if the sailboat business doesn't work out, she won’t have to pay back any of the money she received, unlike a loan where no matter what she would have to pay the money back.
The downside to an equity investment is that if Sally’s Sailboats ends up being a successful company, those early investors will still own their same percentage, no matter how much the revenue and company value increases. This could cost Sally a large amount of money in the future.
The investor perspective
So far we’ve covered crowdfunding from the perspective of the entrepreneur, but now let’s switch to what’s important for investors.
Let’s talk about Johan, a passionate sailor in Zeeland. Johan has some traditional investments: a stock portfolio, some index funds, and a managed pension, but he likes to do crowdfunding on the side as well.
He’s always admired entrepreneurs and likes to support them when he can. When he sees Sally’s Sailboats available on his favorite crowdfunding platform, he loves her idea and immediately decides he wants to invest in her company.
Johan has enough money to be comfortable, but he’s not exactly what you would describe as “wealthy”. He doesn’t have nearly enough money to make a significant contribution to help someone like Sally get the 1 million she needs.
However, he does have €1,000 he can invest in her idea, and the beauty of crowdfunding is that if there are 999 other people who like her idea as well and invest €1,000, then she’ll have the 1 million she needs!
This is the beauty of crowdfunding. In a way, it democratizes investing for everyday investors like Johan. In the past, it was only the rich who would be able to decide which ideas were worthy of funding. If the people in that level of society didn’t understand the problem you solved or the market you served, a truly worthy idea might never see the light of day.
But now, thanks to crowdfunding, people like Johan can support the business ideas they like with smaller investments that they can afford.
This also works in areas like Real Estate investing, which in the past were also limited to only those with significant resources, and now thanks to crowdfunding, can also be accessible to individual retail investors.
Choosing the right type of crowdfunding for you
Now that you know the basics of crowdfunding, let’s discuss a few criteria you might use to figure out which type might be best for your situation.
Note: The European Commission recommends you only invest 10% of your available wealth in crowdfunding projects, so depending on how much that is, you may want to spread your investments over multiple platforms with different types of offerings.
Considering the risks
The first thing you should keep in mind is the risks. Crowdfunding is risky, no matter which type you choose.
Even if you choose a debt crowdfunding platform offering companies with existing revenue, the companies could still fold and default on their debts at any time. No matter how attractive a company looks, there’s always risk.
Knowing that, it’s good to know your risk appetite up front. Are you looking for very early stage companies with high growth potential? These are certainly more risky. Later stage companies with more proven business models will have higher valuations and therefore will be more expensive with less potential return, but they might be significantly safer than their early stage counterparts.
Maybe you’re looking to make a social return on your investments, such as investing in clean energy or economic development in developing countries (such as those available on Lendahand). These can have high social impact and high social returns, but they also carry increased risk as well.
Real estate crowdfunding is seen by some as a safer alternative than investing in early stage businesses, but again, these carry their own unique risks as well. Real estate market movements due to bubbles and crashes are often unpredictable and leave many casualties in their wake. Making sure you have a limit for how much of your portfolio is exposed to real estate could help protect you from those risks.
Potential returns from crowdfunding
If you’re looking for steady, smaller returns, debt crowdfunding could be a nice choice for you. With predefined interest rates and set repayment periods, it can be nice to know how much money you can expect to be deposited into your account every month.
Contrast this to equity crowdfunding where you usually wait years to see any returns on your investments.
However, the upside on equity investments is much higher. Instead of a set interest rate that you receive, there’s no limit to how successful a startup can be, which means there’s theoretically no limit to how much return you could receive.
Time horizon of investments
You also have to consider your desired time horizon. The earlier the stage of the company, the longer you’ll usually have to wait to get your money back. Likewise if you’re investing in debt with fixed maturity dates (the dates that you’re scheduled to receive the money you invested back), you often won’t be able to access the money for a while.
With this in mind, if you’re at a stage in your life where you might need the money back on short notice; for example, maybe you’re buying a home, or maybe you’re retiring soon: crowdfunding is most likely not the best option for you.
However, if you have money sitting on the sidelines that you won’t need anytime soon, crowdfunding can be a good and fun way to invest your money and put it to work for you. It also can keep you from spending your money frivolously (which for me admittedly can sometimes be a problem 😬).
Available crowdfunding platforms in the Netherlands
Now that you know the ins and outs of the different types of crowdfunding platforms, their risks and potential returns, let’s have a look at some of the crowdfunding platforms available in the Netherlands and what makes them different. Hopefully you’ll find one interesting for you and your portfolio.
Collin Crowdfund - Debt (Netherlands)
Collin Crowdfund is a debt crowdfunding platform that offers investments in Dutch SMEs from €25,000 to €2,500,000. Interest rates on projects vary between 4.9% to 9.5% per year, and maturity lengths range from 3 months to 10 years with monthly repayments in between.
You can start investing from €100, unless you want to invest in a project larger than €250,000, in which case the minimum jumps up to €500.
Collin’s mission is to help connect funding-needy SMEs with Dutch households who are looking for investment opportunities. “Six in ten entrepreneurs indicate that their growth is hampered by a lack of financing” they point out, and their approach to crowdfunding seeks to create a “win-win for entrepreneurs and investors” alike.
OnePlanetCrowd - Debt (Netherlands)
OnePlanetCrowd is an Amsterdam based crowdfunding platform founded in 2012. They say that “through sustainable innovation we believe that we can make the world a better place.” They do this by combining innovative companies who are looking for funding with investors who care about sustainability.
OnePlanetCrowd offers projects in companies who are post-revenue, and the interest rates of the projects are normally between 4% and 10%, with maturities between one and ten years.
OPC also interestingly offers convertible loans, which are loans that have the option to be converted into equity instead of being repaid. This gives investors the opportunity to support the company even more by not requiring them to part with precious capital, and it further allows the investor to increase their support by becoming a share-holder of the company. One note though, there is a service fee of .08% attached to convertible loans.
They are also a fellow B-Corp business and on their website they say there is an SDG impact screening that each potential company must pass.
Lendahand - Debt (Emerging Markets)
Founded in 2013 and the only one of its kind in this list, Lendahand is a crowdfunding platform for entrepreneurs in emerging markets: places like Kenya, India, and Peru. By investing in loans for SMEs and financial institutions in these countries, investors can receive repayments every 6 months with annual interest rates on their loans around 4%. Maturities range from 12-48 months.
By investing in SMEs in emerging markets, you’re not only getting a financial return, but a social return as well. Creating jobs, improving local economies, and helping families get access to electricity with solar home systems; Lendahand offers a wide-range of social impact investing opportunities.
Named IEX’s “Crowdfunding Platform of the Year in the Netherlands” in 2018, 2019, and 2021, Lendahand is leading the charge to make impact investing mainstream in Europe. As the first platform in the Netherlands to receive the new ECSP European Crowdfunding License, we’ve recently expanded to France, Spain, and Sweden, with hopes of being Europe’s first truly pan-European crowdfunding platform.
CrowdAboutNow - Debt & Equity (Netherlands)
CrowdAboutNow, the funk soul brother. (If you catch this music reference, you’re officially cool 😉) CrowdAboutNow is a Utrecht based crowdfunding platform that was founded in 2009. Their focus goes “beyond financing”, helping entrepreneurs “increase their community and tell a catchy and appealing story.”
Their differentiation for entrepreneurs from traditional bank financing is their lower costs and focus on the promotion of your business, both of which are crucial for early stage companies.
When you raise funds with a crowdfunding campaign on CrowdAboutNow, you get to take advantage of the relationships they have with their crowd. You get access to an energetic community of investors who enjoy supporting entrepreneurs. It can be a great boost for a company who needs to get their name out to the Dutch market.
They list “retail, food, hospitality, healthcare and housing” as the sectors that they most frequently fundraise for, so if you’re an investor looking to invest in one of these industries, they’re certainly worth a look.
Geldvoorelkaar - Debt (Netherlands)
Geldvoorelkaar aims to “support the real economy through crowdfunding.” Bringing together thousands of Dutch crowdfunders on their platform, their mission is to “make a positive and responsible contribution to the financeability of SMEs in the Netherlands.”
Founded in 2011, Geldvoorelkaar has funded more than 1,500 companies in the Netherlands, with total funding provided of more than €300 million. The interest rates on their projects range between 4% and 9%, while claiming a net annual return of 4.42% on their projects over the last 5 years.
Winner of IEX’s “Dutch Crowdfunding Platform of the Year” in 2020, Geldvoorelkaar is certainly worth a look if you’re interested in getting involved in crowdfunding for the first time.
Duurzaam Investeren - Debt (Netherlands)
Based in Amsterdam, Duurzaam Investeren is working to “arrive at the answers for tomorrow, today.” By bringing sustainable crowdfunding projects to their crowd of investors who are passionate about sustainability, their aim is to “consciously build a sustainable future every day”.
Founded in 2014, Duurzaam is the leader in sustainable investing in the Netherlands, offering investors one of the only platforms truly dedicated to sustainable investing.
I’m not sure if they have a minimum or maximum investment amount or not, but at the time of this writing, the smallest project I saw was €75,000, and the largest was €4.9 million.
It also seems that the minimum investment amount is tiered, since the minimum investment amount on the €75k project was €500, and the ones over €100k were €1,000. Interest rates varied from 4.5% to 8.5% on the projects that I saw.
Lender & Spender - Consumer Debt (Netherlands)
Lender & Spender is a bit of a different breed as it compares to other crowdfunding platforms on this list. They specialize in providing money directly to individuals that replace consumer loans. Their projects consist of activities like borrowing money for a car, a kitchen or bathroom remodel, or maybe even transitioning to clean energy by purchasing and installing solar panels for your home energy needs.
You can also finance an entire home renovation or buy a new motorcycle. There are various use cases for getting funding from Lender & Spender, and their crowdfunding model seeks to provide an attractive alternative to bank financing, connecting people directly with Dutch crowdfunders who want to support other people just like themselves.
With over €100,000,000 lent, Lender & Spender has shown they are a legitimate alternative for people looking for alternative financing and investors alike. They don’t show their projects openly on the website without an account, so I can’t provide any expected interest rates or maturity lengths in this post
NL Investeert - Debt & Equity (Netherlands)
Focusing on providing accessible financing for SMEs, NL Investeert offers crowdfunders in the Netherlands the chance to finance entrepreneurs in the Netherlands who are looking for money to operate their businesses.
NL Investeert doesn’t seek to replace banks as others may, rather, they seek to complement the services that banks provide. “The maxim here is: everything you can do in banking, you must do in banking. We organize everything extra that is needed in the market.”
By investing in local entrepreneurs in communities where they have good relationships and a strong local presence, they aim to minimize the risks of their projects for their investors, making sure that investors can make safe and worthy investments.
The minimum size for projects is €100,000, and at the time of this writing, the largest available project was over €15,000,000 😳) and the interest rates ranged from 7.5% to 9%. The minimum investment for investors is €1,000, and the maximum is €80,000 per year.
SamenInGeld - Debt/Real Estate
SamenInGeld is a debt crowdfunding platform that focuses on Real Estate loans in the Netherlands. They offer investments in mortgages, meaning that investors have some security in their investments since there is always an actual home that is collateral backing the loan.
Further, SamenInGeld says they only provide loans of up to 80% of the value of the home (with some one-off exceptions), and the borrower must deposit the other 20% of the loan up front.
As a crowdfunder, you can expect more security in your investments on SamenInGeld than most other platforms, as they boast a 0% default rate. And with over €78,000,000 already invested with €5,500,000 repaid to investors in interest, they report an average net return of 5.16% on their website. Nothing to sniff at! Loan terms are available from 1 to 5 years and interest rates for investors can be as high as 9%.
Max Crowdfund - Debt - Real Estate (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, UK)
Founded in 2020, Max Crowdfund came from the team at Max Property Group. Their goal is to “make real estate investing accessible to everyone.” And with minimum investments starting at €100 and an advertised average annual return of 9.7%, they seem to be doing just that.
The loan terms of Max Crowdfund investments seem to be quite flexible, with no standard maturity terms and also varying interest rates. Similar to SamenInGeld, Max Crowdfund’s projects are also mortgage backed, meaning that you have some protection of your risk exposure in case something bad happens to the borrower and they can’t repay your investment.
With projects in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom, Max Crowdfund could be a good way to add some diversification to your portfolio by mixing up which countries you have in your portfolio.
Horeca Crowdfunding - Debt (Netherlands)
Warning: Don’t visit this website if you’re hungry. Horeca Crowdfunding is one of the most unique of all the platforms in the Netherlands. They offer investors the chance to invest in Horeca businesses (Hotels (HO) - restaurants (RE) - catering (CA)) starting from €250. They show on their website an average annual net return of 6.53%.
The investments are debt and have fixed term maturity dates (most I saw were 48 months) with varying interest rates. Repayments on projects are made every month, and the projects I saw on their site averaged around 7% returns.
They also offer a nice risk assessment overview, giving projects a star rating according to “Repayment Capacity” and “Entrepreneurial Competency”.
October - Debt (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, Spain)
October is a European crowdfunding platform with locations in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. They target a bit different of a profile than some of the other platforms on the list, only accepting companies that “have existed for at least 3 years, have an annual turnover of at least 250,000 euros, and a net profit after tax in 2019 or 2020”.
Investors can choose funding amounts ranging from €20 to €2,000 per project and repayments are made every month between the 15th and 20th.
As you can tell from the list above, crowdfunding is alive and well in the Netherlands. With plenty of options to choose from based on your needs. As outlined in the intro section of this post, crowdfunding is the democratization of money. When you participate in crowdfunding, you’re helping move the decision making power of which companies survive and thrive away from the historical institutions who have in the past been able to make or break companies into the hands of the people who actually use and buy from them.
This is a huge shift for the world of finance but it won’t come without growing pains. There are certainly risks involved in crowdfunding, something that banks figured out how to deal with and protect themselves from long ago. So make sure you always keep the risks in mind and protect yourself as best you can.
With the crowdfunding space changing all the time, with new players coming and going all the time, we’re proud and excited to help lead the charge. View our available crowdfunding projects now and make sure you have some social return built into your portfolio.
As always, happy crowdfunding :)