About Start Foundation

The Netherlands

The Netherlands (17 million inhabitants) has a working population of 9.2 million people. For years, a large group of people - estimated at 1.7 million - is unable to find a job by themselves. We are fighting for this group.


Start Foundation is an established Venture Philanthropy Fund (founded in 1998) that makes both grants and Social Investments. Start Foundation developed out of Start Temporary Recruitment Services. Start Temporary Recruitment Services was founded in 1977 to combat unemployment by offering flexible labor contracts. The founders represented employers, trade unions and national government. Start Foundation inherited both its capital as well as its ideology. Its endowment size is approx. 125 million euros. 

Mission Statement

Start Foundation creates, preserves and makes jobs accessible for disadvantaged persons who have no or limited access to the labor market in the Netherlands.


Jobs transform lives and communities. We believe in social justice. That work should be available to everyone, everywhere. We need to reform our perspective on solidarity and wealth by bridging the gap between rich and poor. This can be done through participation in working life. Therefore, we need to combat discrimination by age, educational levels, ethnic origin, sexes and other barriers. Economics should contribute more to the quality of life of all Dutch people. Adding community value is as important as making profit.

Venture Philanthropy

Start Foundation adopted the Venture Philanthropy model (VP). VP works to build stronger social purpose organizations by providing them with both financial and non-financial support in order to increase their social impact. Start Foundation’s approach includes both the use of social investment and grants.

The key characteristics are: high engagement, tailored financing, multi-year support, non-financial support, involvement of networks, organizational capacity building and performance measurement.

The field of operations includes charities, socially-driven businesses as well as traditional businesses.

The total amount of annual spending, both in grants and investments, is approx.4-6 million euros.

Our role

Whatever we do, we take a critical look at what we have to offer and what approach will have the most impact for the people involved: people who currently do not manage to participate, to show their worth, to both themselves and society.

Characteristics of our approach:

  • Innovative. We constantly execute new ideas. Constant development and thinking outside the box are second nature to us.

  • Proactive. We take the initiative and focus on matters that allow us to make the largest possible difference.

  • Cooperation. We combine different perspectives in order to find possibilities. There is no right and wrong, but we look for better together.

  • Scaling up. We are looking for multiplication: we make small initiatives scalable and accessible for larger groups, and we help large initiatives to grow even further.

  • Unlimited. We do not take existing laws and regulations as a starting point, but we investigate the edges of the law to see what is possible, rather than what is impossible.

  • Activist. If we perceive injustices, we instantly put them on our agenda and force breakthroughs.

  • Independent. We do not report to anyone. We are free, independent and, if it serves our purpose, rebellious.

How to achieve the objectives over the years?

1998 – 2002 Emphasis on Empowerment of marginalized groups

2002 - 2008 Introducing investments in social entrepreneurship

2008 – 2014 Investing in regular businesses (SME) to make them more social (acquiring businesses for the good cause)

2015 - 2018

  • Creating new jobs (in circular economy)

  • Making businesses more inclusive

  • Empowering those in the greatest need

  • Development of new private/public businesses to enlarge job availability for disadvantaged people

2018on focus
  • The parallel Job market: redefinition of work to create work for everybody

  • Open Hiring: hiring without selection, in cooperation with Greyston USA

  • Focus groups: low-skilled elderly unemployed and ex-offenders

Most important Start Foundation publications over the years:
  • The project carrousel: philanthropy doesn’t contribute to system changes 2009

  • Passion and Money: how come social firms hardly grow and scale? 2013

  • The Vulnerable: why government policies fail 2014

  • Profile analyses: least-wanted disadvantaged groups by employers 2015

  • Valuenomics: investment strategy driven by values 2016

  • Social Impact Bonds, a practical guide 2017

Some eye-catching investments/initiatives over the years:
  • 1999 First job office for HIV-infected people

  • 2001 Job applications on a golf course: well-offs meet have-nots

  • 2003 Holland’s first social enterprise: the disabled delivery service

  • 2006 Introducing micro credits for refugees and ex-offenders

  • 2008 Introducing crisis credits to enable SME businesses to survive the crisis

  • 2012 Paying fine fund for employers who offer internships to young refugees

  • 2013 Founder of DNZ, the NL network for inclusive employers (600 members)

  • 2014 First Dutch Social Impact Bond developed with ABN AMRO bank

  • 2015 The waste food factory to create circular jobs and combat food waste

  • 2016 My Red Light, prostitutes will run windows themselves in a co-operative collective

  • 2017 Empowered by robots (Hubot), traveling exhibition of future jobs

  • 2018 Dating site for handicapped job seekers to enhance their network


Start Foundation is governed by a board of trustees of 5 independent members. Jos Verhoeven (1961) is the managing director (and co-founder) of Start Foundation. In 2015, Jos Verhoeven was elected Holland’s most influential person in Dutch philanthropy.

Start Foundation

Klokgebouw 188

5617 AB Eindhoven, NL

  1. +3140 246 18 50

an English-subtitled corporate movie is available on the homepage