An outline of the
operations of Triodos Bank
In 1980 some friends from the
so called 'Threefold Movement' founded Triodos Bank in the Netherlands in their quest for
a new attitude to money. 'Threefold' comes from the 'threefold social order' of Rudolf
Steiner (1865-1925), the founder of anthroposophy. The name Triodos is taken from the
Greek tri (three) and hodos (the way), meaning 'three ways together'. With this name, the
founders of the Triodos Bank wanted to indicate three dimensions in our society:
a) the dimension of
training, schools, education, science and research, culture, art; in short, anything
relating to innovation and renewal.
b) the dimension of
social relationships, such as the setting up of contracts, the state, and legislation.
c) the economic
dimension, covering production, trade and consumption.
The Triodos Bank has from the
outset provided support, through loans, to: schools, nurseries, art, social welfare
organisations and local hostels for the disabled, companies, and in particular,
agriculture. Besides the need for projects to be economically viable, all loans given out
by the Triodos Bank finance projects which are informed by a holistic view of humanity and
fulfil all the latest ecological requirements.
Since the nineties Triodos has
been building up a network of international branches. There are now branches in England
(Bristol) and Belgium (Brussels) and Triodos is part of a European network of ecological
banks. In the near future, further branches may also be possible in Germany.
The balance sheet of the bank, including its affiliated organisations and monetary funds,
totals nearly two billion German marks, and increased last year (2000) by more than thirty
per cent. Today Triodos employs about one hundred and fifty people. Alongside thousands of
savings accounts, the work of the Triodos Bank is supported by more than 6,600
shareholders and eight investing institutions.
The diverse funds listed below, all initiated by Triodos Bank, play a significant role in
the financing of several areas.
The Green Fund
As early as the eighties the Triodos Bank managed, through intense lobbying, to win tax
relief for their new product noted on the stock market: the Green Fund. Investors who buy
shares in this product on the Dutch stock market in Amsterdam do not have to pay any tax
on the dividends they make from the shares. Fortunately the new tax legislation in the
Netherlands has retained this tax relief. Now every large Dutch bank has started its own
Green Fund and the money now invested in green funds amounts to nearly five billion German
marks. The Triodos Green Fund's capital is managed by the loans department, which invests
the money in the form of loans with attractive interest rates, mainly given to ecological
farming and wind energy ventures.
Triodos now has several ethical investment funds in response to the increasing demand for
ethical investment. Research is carried out for these funds by an internal research
department, which sells its know-how to other financial institutions.
Micro-loans and the
financing of trade
Today Triodos is involved in financing over a hundred projects operating in developing
coountries world-wide. Besides micro-loan banks and social projects in developing
countries, it is involved in financing the international trade of 'Fair Trade' products.
Countries receiving priority are those in Central and South America, Africa and Asia, and
more recently, Central Asia and Russia.
Along with partners in the USA and the World Bank, Triodos recently established a fund for
venture capital investment in solar energy projects in developing countries. The fund
amounts to around one hundred million German marks and is set to run for ten years.
investments in Europe
In 1988 Triodos established its first shareholders' society. Today it has more than thirty
different interests in the sectors of organic foods, wind energy, and ecological banks and
similar institutions. Last year its capital increased to ten million Euros. It is
available for the financing of ecological projects.
The launch of a new society for venture capital investors in the sectors of organic foods,
renewable energy, and alternative technology, is planned for spring 2001. The capital; of
this new society will be, in the first instance, fifty million German marks, and will
later be extended to one hundred million marks. This fund will aim for involvement in
growing companies in the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, and especially Germany.
The Triodos Group has a sound
financial base with increasing profits. The original objectives, to establish a bank which
is socially and ecologically orientated as well as profitable, have been amply realised
world-wide. The future plan is to establish Internet banking, shareholding activities in
the so-called Third World (in solar energy), and Europe (in organic food and renewable
energy), and become more European in scope.