NewB, towards a coop-bank

NewB, towards a coop-bank: Co-creating a sustainable bank with civil society and businesses

Project Stage:
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

114+ organisations/businesses and more than 46000 citizens are building a new cooperative bank in Belgium. NewB is value driven (transparent , sober, simple, participative, inclusive, innovative, fair, local sustainable economy), professional (partnership between bankers and civil society) and responds to a real demand for new financial tools, products and services, for investments and savings. It is to be an example for mainstream banks.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Since the 90-ies of 20th century Belgium’s financial world is dramatically deteriorating as far as diversity and variety is concerned. The banking sector is now dominated by 4 big actors, Belgium is the only country in the western world without truly cooperative banks, lots of actors on the Belgian market are in fact directed by foreign headquarters. The core business models of most banks are not oriented towards the real needs and expectations of the (value driven) clients: clients do not know what happens with their savings; investors, organisations and businesses working on transition to more social and ecological sustainability are often struggling to receive adequate responses and services.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Phase 1: Bringing together a broad range of interested businesses, bankers and citizens and building up a first set of activities and interactions in the financial sector Phase 2 : Setting up a new cooperative bank that is Transparent: in products, services, conditions, contracts, marketing, credits, … Sober: in operations, infrastructure used, HR-policy, marketing, ROI’s … Participative: in the governance of the cooperative, in (global) decision making, in defining global and specific strategies on all levels, in communication and marketing, product and services, in integrating gender issues, youth, elder people, … Exclusively oriented to real and local economy, in selected sectors and new innovative products and services .
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

On participation: a highly appreciated formula to organise GA’s, a tour on 120 locations, + 100 ambassadors (volunteers, of banking sector and civil society organisations), all questions responded within 14 days.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

In the our actual business model we open banking operations in the course of 2015. The estimates of 83.000 individual clients and 500 organisations and businesses on Day 1 are feasible. Of course this step would dramatically change the whole “project” and really make a substantial change in the Belgian banking scene, and in the way financial streams (and support to sustainable projects) can be reoriented … The main barrier we have to overcome is obtaining a banking licence. Our juridical and financial advisors, and partners, are confident that we can succeed. The power of numbers (of members and clients, of potential savings to be attracted and credits to be given) will probably be a decisive factor. In addition we already notice that existing banks take inspiration on our way of working, unfortunately meanly in PR-terms, but we do push new visions in Belgian banking !

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In Belgium there are no other banks with the same business model: cooperative, participatory, co-creative with all stakeholders, fully transparent, sober and only investing in the local economy and aiming at a broad constituency. The fact that we develop a unique concept is part of our success. Inspiration (for products, services, governance, ..) came from other banks including Banca Etica (Italy), Caja Laboral (Spain), Kiwi Bank (New Zeeland), ASN (the Netherlands) , La Nef and Crédit Coperatif (France), Desjardins (Canada) …


We have now a team of 9 professionals on the payroll, as well bankers as staff with expertise in social entrepreneurship. We count on a group of 100 ambassadors working on voluntary basis and on input of staff and volunteers of participating organisations and businesses.
About the Lead Co-Creation Partners
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Type of organization (e.g. NGO, association, not-for-profit, foundation, social enterprise)

Federation of NGOs

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Select the category that best fits the type of your project:

New products & services: Entries in this category develop and offer essentials product and services that address needs currently unmet.

What awards or honors has the project received?
Project Summary
Co-Creation Model: Tell us about your main strategic partners and how the partnership truly create value. For each Partner please include its type (business/social/public), its name, a short description, its key motivation to participate in the co-creation project, and the key contributions it is making in the co-creation project. Please follow the format displayed below:

-Creation of viable workplaces for people with different handicaps. 50 persons on track
-Cooperative model, possibility to create workplaces for repetitive jobs in NewB
-A share of 2000€ and 2 persons already involved in Newb at this stage, participation in Newb-tour and information to other ‘social workplaces’

-Independent construction and property manager, advising and guiding in real estate life cycle analyses
-Governance, participation in a cooperative way, sustainability
-A share of 2000€ , human input by expertise , participation on NewB tour and GA

-Réseau Financité
-Network of 90 organisations working on ‘another finance’, offering trainings, publications, advice
-Bringing into practice a real broad alternative for the banking sector
-52 shares of 2000€, facilitates housing of NewB , ensures Presidency of NewB, different staff members participate as consultants

-Trade Union
-Trade Union of French speaking ‘Centrale Nationale des Employés” with 167.000 members
-Active in Finances, and non-profit sector, willing to promote alternatives
-16 shares of 2000€, the CEO is active Board Member of NewB, promoted & participated to NewB Tour

-Network of organisations active in development work in Third World
-Traditional banking sector also active outside Belgium
-2 shares of 2000€, Director Lobbywork Board member of NewB

-Cooperative active in business of “sustainable burials”
-Reaching new public, strengthen cooperative movement
-1 share of 2000€, participation at GA and giving feed back from clients

-Les Scouts
-French speaking branch of Scouts movement
-Participation to a broad movement towards a more sustainable world
-1 share of 2000€, participating at NewB tour, active at GA’s

-Batigroup Carodec
-Supermarket-outlets selling sustainable building materials
-Participating to cooperative movement.
-1 share of 2000 € , offering substantial advantages to NewB members

-Charity working with and for prisoners: in prison and assistance once out of prison
-Offer product range for their target group, especially on guaranties
-5 shares of 2000 € , participating in working group on future products

-Ateliers de Pontaury
-Enterprise for creating jobs by giving trainings to disadvantaged people
-Support for cooperative sector and future credits
-1 share of 2000 €, active participation of CEO in NewB board.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact. Please specify using qualitative and quantitative data (e.g. # of indirect and direct beneficiaries); help us understand how this solution truly makes a difference.

This is work in progress. Some ex in social field. Collaboration with 8al’infini (organisation giving work to socially handicapped people) > inclusion in staff (for repetitive operational work) of 2 workers with less abilities, developing strategy with Adeppi (organisation working with detainees in prison) on how to give possibilities to people having left prison to do banking operations and obtain credit (for instance guarantee for hiring a flat). Plans for future: idea of developing a call- and service centre in collaboration with specialised business working with handicapped people, developing a concept of guarantees for small loans for people with specific needs and problems, .. Other ex: developing an income generating model for participating organisations, specific savings- and related investment products for environmental organisations, in field of culture, housing, …

Funding: How is your project financial supported? [select all that apply]

Individuals, NGOs, Businesses, Regional government.

Sustainability Plan: Has your project already reached financial sustainability? If not, what is this solutio’s plan to ensure financial sustainability? Do the main partners have enough stake to sustain the solution? If this project requires limited budget, how will other resources be secured to maintain or grow this work?

nance or even growth? [Max. 900 characters or 150 words]
In Phase 1 our start-up is financed by the capital brought in by the founding organisations and businesses and since 1 year by citizens too (46.000 individuals subscribed for 20€: a limited amount to make clear the capital involves a risk). As the project evolved as planned we offered the possibility (since January 30th 2014) to increase the participation up to 120€ / citizen. More than 25 % of the members made use of this possibility. At the moment our capital is of 2.5 million euro. This will enable us to finance the introduction of the banking licence.
In Phase 2, once a bank, the business model of revenues and costs foresees a break even after 3 years. The capital needs after obtaining the banking licence will be covered with another technique: we negotiate now the final details with the controlling authorities.

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the Partners to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

The 2008- financial/banking crisis. The resulting positive reactions of (mainly retired) bankers, of 24 representative civil society-organisations (Dutch and FR, from different horizons, ..) who founded and invested the first 2 years. The spectacular public response to the launch on March 24 2013, the 2.5 millions euro capital we raised since the start (probably Belgians biggest crowd funding action so far). The positive feed back of a variety of for-profit organisations and businesses who invested minimum 2000€ each : Batigroup Carodec, Bopro, Villa 34, Village nr1, Qbus, Art Decoo, Alveus, Atelier de Pontaury, Le Clos des Bouleaux, La Ferme Nos Pilifs, De Zondvloed, De Wrikker, Energie 2030, Beauvent , De Kringwinkel Antwerpen, Magasins du monde Oxfam, Oxfam-Wereldwinkels, Centre Culturel Les Grignoux, DPlanAId, CJB Autres Voyages, SAW-B, LekkerGEC, STICS…

About the Co-Creation
Barriers: What main barriers may you have encountered to co-create during the creation and implementation of the project and how did you try to overcome them?

As any “start-up-company” we were confronted with specific challenges. We had f.i. to bridge the gap between societal priorities and banking requirements (successfully tackled by deciding that at each level of operations, and decision making, a fair representation of each focus has to be on board). We needed to guarantee a fair equilibrium between different stakeholders: of different cultures, backgrounds, and of different sectors in society, without dominance from one group over the other. We tackled this challenge by involving more and more organisations, with the global equilibriums in mind. After covering the costs (by the founding organisations) of the feasibility study (and the first marketing studies ), we needed capital for the next phases. We obtained that by launching successfully a public crowd funding action. Next challenge is obtaining the banking licence.

Governance: What is the type of the relationship between the partners? (e.g. joint venture, contractual relationship, joint project...)

All partners are members of the cooperative society and have equal rights, regardless the amount of capital invested (based on the principal “1 organisation, 1 person, 1 vote”). The General Assembly is constituted by 3 groups: A-members (organisations and businesses), B-members (citizens) and C-members (institutional investors). In each group each member had 1 vote, every decision has to be approved with a majority in each group.

Interaction model: How is the project a transformative partnership? How is the interaction transforming the partnering organizations and their employees/ leadership in terms of creating a new vision, new management practices, new skills and new organizational structures? Please provide for concrete examples

At this stage of a start-up, the interactions with the different partner organisations was at the conceptual level and oriented towards plans in the future. We mainly interacted by defining what added value NewB could bring to the partners once we would be a bank. It is clear that once we would begin offering products and services (that we will have build together) as well regarding savings as investments, this will have a positive influence: as well on the way they operate on (internal) financial issues in their organisations as on the culture and visions that could be developed in the field of projects that they could develop.

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