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Talking Impact: Role of ImpactFest in Social Enterprise Ecosystem

This article examines ImpactFest and the prospects it has for the impact economy and social entrepreneurs in particular. ImpactFest is championed by the Hague’s ImpactCity and is adjudged the largest impact economy meetup in Europe.

The Netherlands is witnessing the emergence and growth of one of the largest and most diverse social enterprise ecosystems in the world. Social enterprises are established primarily to achieve specific social objectives, rather than profit-making for owners and shareholders. As such, profits made by these businesses are either directed back into the business or are used to fund social programs or to make investments in the community. The Dutch national government in the past few years has been paying increasing attention to social enterprises and NGOs, offering support initiatives, plans and programs that stimulate the growth of these businesses. At the local level, municipalities including The Hague have also recognized the potential of social enterprises to make social impact in a sustainable way. Consequently, municipal governments have established initiatives to attract and support social entrepreneurs. One of such initiatives is The Hague’s ImpactFest.

Doing good, doing business in the Hague

In the past few years, The Hague has grown to be a choice location for businesses in the Netherlands, offering a soft landing for startups. Given the city’s local and international network, The Hague links startups and entrepreneurs with research centres, NGOs, companies, and over two hundred international organisations and knowledge institutions based in the international city of peace and justice. The Hague offers limitless opportunities for entrepreneurs to grow and scale up.

Furthermore, The Hague has now earned the reputation of being the “Impact City” given its emergence as a growing and evolving startup community connecting enterprises and NGOs with a unique environmental and social impact. Guided by its motto, “doing good, doing business’, the Municipality of The Hague is stimulating the Impact Economy by facilitating a conducive business climate for social enterprises and NGOs in the Netherlands through special policies, possibilities for financing, and a great infrastructure. ImpactCity is the social enterprise ecosystem in The Hague offering immense opportunities to social entrepreneurs and scale ups, ensuring that The Hague continues to attract businesses with the ‘doing good & doing business’ mindset.


ImpactFest is the flagship initiative of ImpactCity, among other campaigns of the community, to actively support social enterprises, and offer opportunities for impact startups and scale-ups. The program was launched in 2016 and enjoys the support and commitment of the city. An annual event that takes place in the Hague, ImpactFest is easily the biggest impact meetup on the continent. The event provides an opportunity for impact startups from around the world to share ideas, discuss industry trends, and also evaluate their social impact. Due to restrictions on international travel in 2020, ImpactFest 2020 leveraged online possibilities with impact makers from across the globe connecting virtually. ImpactFest 2021 is scheduled to be held on the 4th of November, 2021 at the Fokker Terminal in the Hague, and is themed “Innovating for a Sustainable Future of our Planet and Humanity”.

Why Attend ImpactFest 2021?

The 2021 edition of the ImpactFest is approaching fast and plans are already underway. If you are an impact maker or someone interested in the impact economy, here are a few reasons why you should consider attending ImpactFest 2021:

1.    Networking Opportunities

As previously highlighted, ImpactFest is the largest impact meetup in Europe drawing impact makers from around the world to The Hague. The 2019 edition of the event alone had over 1,600 registered participants, and the 6th edition of the ImpactFest is expected to take the social economy to a new level. At ImpactFest 2021, participants can learn, build, and network with fellow impact makers such as startups, social entrepreneurs, policymakers, innovators, and NGOs in the Netherlands.

2.    Knowledge Acquisition

The main thrust of ImpactFest is to drive knowledge and experience-sharing between participants utilizing different elements such as roundtables and master classes. A round table is a table dialogue involving 4-8 guests discussing specific topics and moderated by a table host. These workshops are incredibly interactive and allow participants not only to learn from the host but from other participants seated at the table. Insights into key sectors, emerging trends, and recent industry highlights are shared at the table.

3.    Pitch your Ideas to Prospective Investors and Partners

Participants at ImpactFest can leverage ImpactCity’s extensive partners network. The Hague is home to over two hundred international organisations and knowledge institutions, as well as thousands of prospective investors. ImpactFest has Meetup sessions where participants can meet with potential partners and discuss solutions and startup ideas on social impact areas such as food security, impact investing, humanitarian innovation, the blue economy, to mention a few. With ImpactFest 2021, social entrepreneurs have a platform to pitch their ideas to prospective investors and access opportunities to scale up their businesses.

4.    Be a Part of Impact Competition

Participants at the ImpactFest 2021 also get a front seat view of the international finals of the European Get in the Ring Impact Competition that is held at the annual event. The competition, powered by ImpactCity, has startups and social entrepreneurs competing for a convertible loan of about €500,000, as well as the opportunity to scale up their businesses internationally. Finalists from 6 European cities across Europe compete for the Get in the Ring Impact 2021 title at ImpactFest.


There is hardly any event that significantly influences the impact economy of The Hague and the Netherlands as much as the ImpactFest. Impact makers from across the world converge to discuss action plans to achieve sustainable development and create a better world. The 2021 edition of the ImpactFest is just around the corner, how prepared are you?

You can learn more about ImpactFest and register for the upcoming one on their website. If you need any help with your registration and to make further enquiries you can reach out to the Hague Business Agency.