Finance

Impact loan

An impact loan is a loan that recognizes sustainable investments and rewards the borrower with a lower interest rate. Banks often make this type of loan available to small and medium-sized enterprises to incentivize more sustainable initiatives.

These types of loans may require the financial support of development banks or state-funding agencies to achieve a low interest rate. In this case the risk and reward and shared across the private bank and public development bank.

Loan applicants must justify that they meet one or more criteria as defined by the lender. Dependent on industry and geography, these criteria may be environmental and/or social performance-based and require third party certification programs, government labels or others.

Example

Rabobank

Situation

  • Rabobank estimates that 5% to 10% (depend on the specific industry) of their business clients in the Dutch SME market are sustainability pioneers. .
  • The demand for impact investing is increasing annually
  • The European Investment Bank (EIB) is an institution for long-term lending by the European Union, owned by the EU Member States and provides long term finance for sound investments with the aim of contributing to the EU policy objectives.
  • Rabobank is the largest bank in the Netherlands in green savings, investments and finance.
  • Rabobank’s total lending with a positive social impact (both in the Netherlands and abroad) amounts to over €21 billion.

Challenges

  • How do we measure and monitor sustainability ambitions and performance of our clients and thereby create financial solutions for frontrunners?

Solution

  • Thorough analysis, selection and annual procedure of the Dutch certification and sustainability schemes in all sectors based on different criteria.
  • To receive an impact loan a company must have less than 3,000 employees, actively engage in corporate social responsibility and possess one of the 47 quality marks (i.e. Forest Stewardship Certification, Cradle to Cradle, etc.)
  • European Investment Bank (EIB) and Rabobank teamed up to offer impact loans to Dutch SME and mid-cap companies that encourage them to make sustainable investments, such as resource efficiency initiatives.
  • Interest rates for impact loans dropped to 1.2% in some cases.
  • EIB provided €150 million in funding to Rabobank for impact loans in two tranches (€50M & €100M).

Key benefits

  • 140 Dutch SME and mid-cap companies received impact loans across the first two tranches.
  • Companies receiving loans come from a variety of sectors, including agriculture and horticulture, transport, hospitality and more.
  • EIB & Rabobank expect 200 more companies to leverage impact loans in a third, €200 million tranche issued in 2017.
  • Rabobank is the first major Dutch bank to financially reward our business clients for sustainable behavior

References