Rabo Foundation 50 jaar
50 years of impact in brief
Lasting positive change; it is what we have been committed to since 1974. Just as it is for Rabobank, Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen's cooperative idea was our foundation: together we achieve more than alone. By joining forces and working together, people can strengthen their social and economic position. From the start, we have invested in the self-reliance of people in a vulnerable position in the Netherlands and far beyond. Our impact has grown over the past 50 years. We now support hundreds of organizations that work with smallholder farmers, such as savings and credit cooperatives, all over the world and social entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. Together and through these organizations we now support millions of smallholder farmers around the world. And we offer opportunities to thousands of people in the Netherlands who were previously on the sidelines. In this way, people improve their own lives – and little by little, the world. From a more inclusive job market to contributing to solutions to the global food issue. Read our timeline to discover the key moments from the past 50 years.
1974 - Start of Stichting Steun door Rabobanken
Rabo Foundation is established under the name: Stichting Steun door Rabobanken (SSR). It continues the work of Stichting 150 jaar Raiffeisen (150 years Raiffeisen Foundation) and Stichting Internationale Ontwikkelingshulp door Boerenleenbanken (International Development Aid by Agricultural Cooperative Banks Foundation). The aim is to promote the cooperative idea of the Rabobank organization by supporting projects in the Netherlands and in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. From our founding, we have been committed to an inclusive society in the Netherlands, in the early years by, among other things, supporting care farms for people with disabilities. And internationally by offering smallholders farmers the prospect of a better life by investing in their self-reliance. By, among other things, making the establishment of savings and credit cooperatives possible.
1994 - More impact with loans
Rabo Foundation starts providing loans such as microfinance (short-term loan). Thanks to new rules, we as a foundation can provide loans in addition to donations. This allows us to support organizations even better and this also fits in with our vision of encouraging self-reliance. With loans we rely on people's own capabilities from the start and there is a better chance that they will ultimately survive without outside help. Rabo Foundation was one of the first foundations to provide loans and now providing loans is our key financing product. And, by starting to provide loans, Rabo Foundation became a revolving fund. With the loan repayments we can replenish our fund every year, redeploy the money and thus finance more organizations.
1995 - Local currency loans
Starting this year, we improve access to loans for organizations by offering them in the local currency. In doing so, we reduce the currency risk for our partners, meaning they are less dependent on international exchange rates.
2002 - New name: Rabobank Foundation
Stichting Steun door Rabobanken (SSR) is now called the Rabobank Foundation. This name has already been in use for some time internationally because it is easier to communicate. It proved inconvenient to work with a different name (SSR) within the Netherlands than abroad, which is why we opted for a single name.
2004 - Founding of Share4More
Starting this year, Rabobank employees can make a donation to Rabo Foundation. It started as Share4More and we launched it a year ahead of schedule. The reason is the tsunami that caused enormous damage in large parts of Asia on Boxing Day 2004. Many of our partners in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia are in the disaster area. Rabobank, Rabo Foundation, and bank employees donated money for emergency aid to those affected via Share4More. Today, Share4More is called Rabo Foundation's employee fund. Rabobank employees and retirees support the fund with a monthly contribution of 4 euros or more, and Rabobank doubles that amount.
2008 - First project employee abroad
Our first local project employee starts in India. An important step forward to support organizations abroad even better in their development. Local employees speak the language and know the cultural, political and economic context. Because they are active close to our projects, they can visit projects more easily and more frequently. We now have 23 people working in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Together with them, we form a strong international team that works daily to increase our impact.
2011 - Start Rabo Rural Fund B.V.
The Rabo Foundation establishes the Rabo Rural Fund with support from Cordaid and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Now we can also finance cooperatives and farmers' organizations that are too big for Rabo Foundation financing and too small for a commercial loan. The fund finances agricultural businesses and cooperatives in the emerging economies of Latin America, Africa and Asia.
View the 2022 impact report to learn more about Rabo Rural Fund B.V.
The photo shows our client Acopagro, one of the largest cocoa cooperatives in Peru.
2012 – Focus on financial health
This year, national attention increased for the growing group of people who visibly had financial problems in the Netherlands. As a driving force behind social innovation, we saw it as our role to contribute to the solution with our knowledge, network and financial resources. For example, we supported projects such as Humanitas Thuisadministratie (Humanitas' Home Administration), in which thousands of volunteers work to help families with financial problems regain control of their finances. Later, we supported initiatives such as Geldfit.nl and the Nederlandse Schuldhulproute (Dutch Debt Assistance Route). These initiatives can now count on the support and involvement of Rabobank.
2013 - Start measuring impact
From its inception, Rabo Foundation has focused on achieving social impact. Measuring this impact, however, is not easy. Starting this year, we ask our project partners to report their results to us through an online survey. Measuring the impact gives us insight into the changes taking place, the role the Rabo Foundation plays in them and how we can further support our project partners.
2015 - Start Social Entrepreneurship Program
Since its inception, Rabo Foundation has been working towards an inclusive society in the Netherlands. This year our Social Entrepreneurship Program started. Supporting social entrepreneurs who are committed to helping people in the Netherlands who want to work, but have trouble finding a job. Like, Dignita who was one of the first social enterprise we financed. Now we support almost 200 social entrepreneurs in their growth by giving them access to financing, knowledge and our network.
2017 - Winner Jacques Diouf Award
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) honors us with an FAO Award: the Jacques Diouf Award. In doing so, it recognizes our commitment to strengthening the economic self-sufficiency of smallholder farmers worldwide. And thus our contribution to the food system transition.
Ankie Wijnen, Chair of the Rabo Foundation Supervisory Board 2017 - 2023, accepted the award from FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva.
2019 - More attention to environmental impact in new strategy
Whereas before we focused mainly on social and economic impact, we now broaden our focus with environmental impact. This is a direct response to the effects of climate change. With our support to partners, we can help smallholder farmers become more climate resilient. Only in this way can they build a sustainable future.
2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic
The global health crisis has a major impact on our partners – partly because the crisis is accompanied by drastic measures, such as lockdowns, social distancing and travel restrictions, which have negative effects on the global economy. We establish a temporary emergency fund of €750,000 for acute assistance to our partners' initiatives, and offer a number of organizations deferred repayments on their current loans.
This year we will also start the first discussions about the partnership program 'India Covid Response Program for Agri Transition'. Led by US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and supported by USAID along with Rabo Foundation and two European foundations and three financial institutions in India.
2023 - New initiative for smallholder agroforestry
Smallholder farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America are being hit hard by climate change. The transition to agroforestry can offer a solution for farmers. Rabo Foundation sees the benefits of agroforestry and is therefore starting to set up a new initiative this year, including in collaboration with Rabobank's Acorn. The new B.V. will provide impact financing to support smallholder farmers on a large scale in the transition to agroforestry and is expected to be fully operational by mid-2024.
2024 - Anniversary year
This year marks exactly 50 years since Rabo Foundation was founded. In half a century we have supported more than 5,000 organizations in the Netherlands, Africa, Asia and Latin America. We gave them access to the necessary financial resources, knowledge and network to grow and thus work together towards a better future for millions of people. In total, we invested more than EUR 500 million in a more sustainable and inclusive society. This year we reflect on the impact we as Rabo Foundation make, by sharing impact stories from organizations and people who show that positive change is really possible.