Belgium has tons of cash in savings accounts, a vast infrastructure supporting entrepreneurs, a concentrated urban population and like everywhere else, many people are looking for something to do with their money. So why is crowdfunding not taking off faster there, when compared to Iceland or Holland for example? Why is Belgium different?
This is a question I’ve been asked many times and is also a question I’ve been asking myself. People have also volunteered (partial) responses. It’s a great subject for a blog and hopefully the collective intelligence reading this blog will be able to contribute their own views.
1. Belgiums love to save
This is undoubtedly true as it is ranked one of the highest in Europe when it comes to the rate of household savings as per OECD. GOOD NEWS, there are now crowdfunding platforms in Belgium which will help Belgians save more as they propose between 7-10% interest rates on loans as opposed to the 0,0000x% available on savings accounts. It is by definition, risky investment but bare in mind that it now costs money to save in Belgium https://www.presse-cbc.be/?p=1683
2. Belgiums love to invest in property
Again, this is undoubtedly true and unlike my homeland of Ireland, there has been no great property bubble explosion and therefore many still choose that path. MORE GOOD NEWS, there are now ways of combining crowdfunding and property investment as some platforms such as http://www.deal5000.eu offer crowdfunding for property. No more excuses I hear you say …..
3. Belgians are boring, conservative and risk averse
The people who have said this to me often compare Belgium with the “Anglo-saxon” silicon valley culture of creating risks rather than hiding from them. EVEN MORE GOOD NEWS as the whole idea behind crowdfunding is that you spread your risk rather than concentrating it. There are risks in all investments so its about being intelligent about how to manage those risks. The laws in Belgium impose some constraints to ensure nobody loses their house or entire savings as was the case a few years ago when people invested in Fortis and other (more secure) investments.
4. Lastly, Belgium doesn’t have an entrepreneurial culture
This is unfortunately backed up by statistics undertaken by the EU commission, among others, which show the relatively low percentage of start-ups and entrepreneurs in Belgium. I worked as an employee in Belgium for 15 years and would have agreed with this point. In the last 15 months, I have met hundreds of Belgian entrepreneurs, some of who are doing great things in technology, renewable energy, urban agriculture etc… I believe that Belgium is becoming more entrepreneurial and again, GOOD NEWS, as crowdfunding and a more collaborative economy can only help to stimulate this further.
For those of you who haven’t been to Belgium, this video gives one image (not one I like but nevertheless) of why Belgium is so difficult to define and so damn complex.