N-VA councilors critical of subsidies to non-profit organizations (Antwerp)

N-VA councilors critical of subsidies to non-profit organizations (Antwerp)
N-VA councilors critical of subsidies to non-profit organizations (Antwerp)

It is clear that the entire Let’s Go Urban affair was a traumatic experience for the Antwerp city council. Projects that receive subsidies from the city of Antwerp are closely monitored. This is the case with the support of the non-profit organization Rising You, which is going to provide fiberglass laser training. This non-profit organization receives just over 66,500 euros.

“I see that Rising You is not only a non-profit association, but also that there is a cooperative company with the same name and with the same people on the board of directors of the non-profit organization,” says Vereecken. “Both are also located at the same address in Brussels. We also saw this at Let’s Go Urban. The company also makes a profit. That in itself is not a problem, but I would regret that that profit is made on the taxpayer’s behalf. Are we sure everything is kosher?”

Antwerp Alderman for Work Erica Caluwaerts (Open Vld) is convinced that everything is in order. Rising You had already provided scaffolding builders for the city.


Benjamin Gerard, coordinator of the non-profit organization Rising You, understands the critical attitude of the council members.

“After Let’s Go Urban I have to provide more text and explanation about our operation”, says Gerard. “That’s no problem either. We work partly with public money, so we have to be doubly careful about how we spend those resources. The term ‘social entrepreneurship’ is tainted after Let’s Go Urban.”

Rising You was founded in 2015 as a cooperative company with a social purpose. The main goal is the integration of refugees through climbing, training and guidance towards work. Rising You trains 70 to 80 people annually with a success rate of 90 percent.

“Good climbing techniques help to build scaffolding,” says Gerard. “In many cases, the welding of fiberglass also takes place at a great height. As a company, we act as a sort of selection agency for companies that are looking for people in shortage occupations. We use the company’s income to help pay for the expensive training material, the sports infrastructure and the supervisors for the non-profit organization. As a result, the VDAB or the city of Antwerp only pays for the training provided by the non-profit association. The council members are always welcome to get to know us.”


The non-profit association JobRoad receives money from the social economy authority of alderman Tom Meeuws (Vooruit). The aim is to close the gap between job seekers and employers. With the influx of Ukrainian refugees, a specific approach is needed.

“This non-profit organization contains respectable people from the business world, but also people with the same political signature,” says Johan Klaps.

It concerns the Vooruit politicians Ingrid Lieten and Yamila Idrissi.

Meeuws defends the choice for JobRoad. “With the Ukrainian refugees, 1,700 of whom now have an equivalent living wage, the pressure on our own services is high,” says Meeuws. “JobRoad has specific knowledge and has many contacts with temporary employment agencies.”

Klaps and Vereecken emphasize that it is purely coincidental that both intervened in subsidy files for non-profit organizations so quickly in succession and that there is no party political strategy behind it. “They were just two striking files,” says Vereecken.

Tags: NVA councilors critical subsidies nonprofit organizations Antwerp

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