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Yumeko: changing the world sleeping

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“We want to guarantee that the products our customers sleep under are made in a sustainable manner, without causing damage to people, animals or the environment,” says Rob van den Dool, co-founder and CEO of Yumeko, a social enterprise based in Amsterdam that uses ecological and fair-trade materials, such as cotton, wool, linen and tencel to make bedding.

“The materials used to produce duvets, sheets and pillows are potentially toxic and difficult to grow,” says Rob. “Farmers often have to indebt themselves heavily to purchase expensive pesticides and fertilizers to care for their crops. In India, it’s not uncommon for farmers to find themselves in serious trouble as a result of a poor harvest, some even resorting to suicide.”

Rob is committed to promoting a more sustainable and ecological form of agriculture which is at the same time socially responsible: “We aim at saving and preventing the use of chemicals and pesticides, at employment and better working conditions, prevention of water pollution and better animal care.” For this purpose, he has partnered with fair-trade cooperatives and producers. “Our Fairtrade certificate guarantees that we pay fair prices to cotton farmers and the professionals who make our products. We actually pay our Indian organic cotton farmers over 30% more than what they would earn otherwise. They receive a pension and health insurance and work normal working hours, and women are treated the same in the cotton cooperatives as men, from voting rights to wages,” he explains. “At the same time, our cotton and wool are purely organic. The whole chain, from cotton plants and sheep to duvet cover and quilt, meets the strictest organic requirements.”

Yumeko’s business is booming, but growing and scaling up can create cashflow issues. “This year (2018) was particularly difficult,” Rob adds, “We wanted to take a step up as a company, open a shop and enable Pan-European online sales…It put our finances under strain.” However, Yumeko secured an EU-guaranteed loan from Triodos Bank under the EU’s Investment Plan for Europe and was able to finance the scale-up effort, allowing them to extend the collection with many new colours and fabrics, increasing the quantity of cotton and therefore the impact on farmer welfare. “We now support almost 300 farmer families – that means around 15 complete rural farmer villages – with their yearly income from cotton. At the same time, we produce the highest quality bedding products. It’s the softness of our products and the bliss of lying in bed with Yumeko that keeps our customers coming back to us. But we continue to strive for better, more beautiful and greener products. It can always be better. Keep dreaming!” Rob adds.

Company: Yumeko (Netherlands)

Type of business: social enterprise; manufacturing 

EIF financing: EaSI Guarantee Financial Instrument, EFSI

Financial intermediary: Triodos Bank

For further information about EIF intermediaries in the Netherlands, please refer to:
http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/nl

 

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