1930 marked the foundation of the company called “Tot Beheer van het Volksvermogen” which had as its corporate object the management of the participations and shares held by Volksspaarwezen, as VDK Spaarbank was called at the time. This was done in order to increase the bank’s liquidity and to prevent possible conflicts of interest. Only in 1935 did legislators impose this model on all Belgian banks.
After resolving the participations and shares issue, the company for a long time mainly consolidated its positions. The company’s main investment was in an insurance company called “De Volksverzekering”, but it also held some exotic shares: in a Romanian oil company, in Chinese railroads, etc.
In 1964 the company started expanding its participation in VDK Savings Bank. In 2002, the participation in DVV Insurance – formerly called De Volksverzekering – was sold.
On 14 May 2003, the Board of Directors laid down the company’s future policy guidelines. First, the Board stated its firm intention to support the activities of VDK Savings Bank, amongst other things by providing stable stock ownership. Additionally, it was decided to invest in companies active in the social economy and in innovative projects offering sustainable perspectives. Finally, it was planned to support projects with a structural approach to social issues.
These policy guidelines have been implemented since the second half of 2003 and have been encouraged by the Management Committee and the Board of Directors ever since. We thus invested in microfinance institutions in Peru, in an investment fund in Eastern Africa for agricultural companies, and, via the Baekeland Fund of Ghent University, in innovative growth companies.
In 2006 these policy guidelines were explicitly laid down in the company’s Mission and Values. In order to fully implement this Mission and Values, an office building was bought at Ravensteinstraat 2 in Ghent (Postal code 9000), where, after alterations, the principal office was established at the end of 2008.
We also decided to recruit personnel in order to meet the company’s needs. In 2007, this resulted in the recruitment of a first employee.
In the following years, the investment portfolio was further expanded, with shares, among others, in the French social housing companies Sorimmo and Domalians, the DG Infra Yield infrastructure fund,the Fairtrade Access Fund, Inclusio and Smartfin Capital. In addition, a portfolio of loans to microfinance institutions has been developed, and investments are diversified via the development of a bond portfolio.
Meanwhile, we continue to look for new investment opportunities in line with the mission of Volksvermogen: aimed at the financial, social or innovative sectors (or a combination of those).