Rikx is a digital marketplace for social entrepreneurs originating from Rotterdam. The platform makes initiatives possible that train underprivileged Rotterdammers and guide them to work. The innovative model has been awarded by Bloomberg Philanthropies with 1 million dollars to scale up.
Rikx was ‘born’ at Rotterdam-based consultancy agency Rebel in 2018. At the time, Rebel consultant Wouter Vos was looking for a solution for social impact initiatives’ dependency on public funding. Initiatives working to combat things like inequality and joblessness in the city of Rotterdam.
In Michiel van Keulen he met his Rikx counterpart. Together with the municipality of Rotterdam and Voor Goed Impact agency, they developed a financing system for social impact. A marketplace connecting social entrepreneurs who help people return to work or education, with companies looking to invest in social impact.
Bloomberg Philanthropies acknowledge the use of digital tokens to create incentives for local businesses to hire vulnerable residents. By naming it one of the most innovative solutions to combat the disastrous effects of the pandemic.
The future of Rikx
“Unemployment in Rotterdam is double the national average and rising. Public budgets are insufficient because of the pandemic, limiting funding for employment programs. Rotterdam proposes to incentivize private-sector engagement in employment initiatives by introducing digital tokens that monetize social impact generated by entrepreneurs, NGOs, and other private stakeholders—similar to the carbon market.
Rotterdam’s idea has strong potential because it builds upon past prototyping efforts and takes private-sector engagement in social problem-solving to the next level through a new marketplace that can quickly scale.”
Rikx initiator and Rebel consultant Wouter Vos: “I’m convinced that social entrepreneurs have a key role in creating social impact in the city. Even in the middle of coronation time, they have guided dozens of people to work. The fact that companies help finance these social entrepreneurs is unique to Rikx. Bloomberg’s recognition of our concept is the crowning glory of the work we have done in recent years”.
Social entrepreneurs offer their projects on the online Rikx platform. Projects like Hutspot Hotspot, Mama Taxi and The Swapshop are now available. Companies that would like to contribute to a social, inclusive labour market but do not have the means to do so within their own company, can invest money in these social projects.
All projects have one thing in common: they combat poverty and unemployment in the city by offering people with a distance to the labour market a chance to retrain or find their way back to work.
Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg L.P. and 108th Mayor of New York City. “Our 15 winners offer bold, achievable plans to improve health, reduce unemployment, empower women and more. Collectively, they have the potential to improve the lives of millions of their residents. The most successful solutions will inspire cities around the world to embrace them.”
According to Bloomberg Philanthropies Rikx can be deployed in more cities and has active involvement from local, private and private investors.
“I am delighted that Bloomberg selected Rotterdam as one of the 15 best innovative cities in the world, recognizing the potential of Rikx for further development. We are on the right track to building social connections in our cities. Having a job is enormously important in this respect. Together with committed entrepreneurs in our city, we can make a difference. This can then lead to greater social and economic resilience in our cities.”
In the next 3 years, Rikx will continue to develop and scale-up. First locally, to other municipalities within the Netherlands. Then internationally. The Municipality of Rotterdam is also contributing half a million euros in funding. After a pilot period, Rikx has proven itself: investing in social entrepreneurs means investing in a more social, stronger city.