When we talk about Rikolto, we are talking about an international network organisation, our programmes and the people who work for us around the world. We are all Rikolto.
Rikolto consists of three legal entities operating alongside each other: Rikolto International, Rikolto Belgium and Rikolto Consult. The three organisations are related in financial, economic and organisational terms and share a common mission, yet have their own governance structures.
In 2017, our organisational and governance structure underwent a complete makeover and Rikolto became an international network organisation. Rikolto International was founded: a new legal entity next to Rikolto Belgium (previously the NGO Vredeseilanden), which became the vessel of the network organisation. Rikolto’s offices in Latin America, East Africa, West Africa, Southeast Asia and Europe (Belgium) all constitute an equal part of Rikolto as network organisation, with Rikolto Belgium being the only office with a separate legal entity.
Rikolto International is managed by a Global Directors Team, a Global Operations Team, a Strategy Meeting and an International Board of Directors, in which all Rikolto regions are represented.
"We simply could not stand anymore for a management and board consisting of only Belgians leading a global organisation. Our international governance structure allows us to benefit fully of all global knowledge, competences and dynamics. Making our food systems sustainable is not a traditional development problem: it’s a challenge we either globally overcome together, or we will fail at."
The Global Directors Team unites the Executive Director, the three Global Programme Directors and the Operations Director. They manage the daily operations of the whole network, with a specific focus on our programme and strategies. A Global Operations Team, including all regional Heads of Operations and the Global Operations Director, define the rules and regulations that guide Rikolto’s work, at the level of finance, human resources, etc. Twice a year, the Global Directors Team meet in a Strategy Meeting, together with delegated regional programme directors and other delegated staff (such as, for example, Heads of Operations of regional offices). The Strategy Meeting is the cornerstone of the governance of our organisation and it is the place where strategic, operational and regional interests come together. The Strategy Meeting proposes strategic decisions to the board of directors.
The International Board of Directors strategically guides Rikolto on the path towards sustainable food systems. The composition of our International Board of Directors is based on the members’ complementary individual expertise (finance,HR and mission-related content), their background or stakeholder representation (civil society, public sector and private sector) and their knowledge of Rikolto. It is paramount that this composition ensures diversity in terms of gender, age and geographical distribution across the Rikolto regions.
The directors are appointed for a maximum period of three years and are eligible for reappointment twice. The Board members can only nominate new members if they are proposed by the Strategy Meeting, to ensure diversity and knowledge of Rikolto’s work. The Chair and all other Board members are volunteers. They receive no payment for their services, nor do they have an executive function within the organisation. The Board delegates operational responsibility to the organisation’s Executive Management: since 1st September 2018, Chris Claes is the Executive Director of Rikolto International.
The Rikolto International Board of Directors meets three times a year in a virtual meeting and one time in a physical meeting, jointly with the Strategy Meeting. The Board safeguards our mission and core values. Based on proposals from the Strategy Meeting, the Board defines the general policies and strategies of the organisation. They follow up on the implementation of these policies and strategies and on the results and impact achieved. Social, economic and environmental concerns form the core of these strategic conversations.
The non-profit organisation Rikolto Belgium has a long history. Up until 2016, Rikolto Belgium – then going by the name of Vredeseilanden/ VECO – consisted of a headoffice and seven regional offices. In 2016, our organisational and governance structure underwent a complete makeover and we became an international network organisation. Following the internationalisation of our organisation and governance, we changed our brand name from Vredeseilanden/VECO to Rikolto. A new organisation, Rikolto International, was founded as vessel of all international programmes; Rikolto Belgium became in charge of Rikolto’s programme in Belgium and private fundraising. This way, Rikolto Belgium constitutes an equal part of the network organisation, next to the Rikolto offices in in Latin America, East Africa, West Africa and Southeast Asia. It is the only Rikolto office that currently has a separate legal entity. It also has the ultimate responsibility for all funds raised from Belgium donors and the Belgian Ministry of Development Cooperation (DGD).
In 2016 the Belgian government (through the consultancy agency Deloitte) screened all Belgian NGOs on their governance and management. Rikolto achieved an excellent result and is now recognised as “programme NGO” for the next ten years, allowing us to apply for long-term funding from the government.
Thibault Geerardyn | Director of Rikolto in Belgium
Rikolto in Belgium is managed by a General Assembly and a Belgian Board of Directors.
The General Assembly consists of 84 members representing our key stakeholders in Belgium. They are volunteers, experts from various organisations or private companies, people working for governmental institutions or public administration, members of the Board of Directors and former staff members. In total, the General Assembly comprises 32 women and 52 men (as of 31/12/2022).
Anyone may apply to become a member of the General Assembly. Applications are presented at the next General Assembly. Membership is valid for an indefinite period. The Articles of Association stipulate that currentRikolto staff cannot be a member of the General Assembly.
The General Assembly is the supreme body of Rikolto Belgium. It appoints the Belgian Board of Directors and ratifies the annual accounts and the annual report. Within the General Assembly there is a Financial Committee that thoroughly studies the financial reports ahead of each General Assembly.
The Belgian Board of Directors is responsible for the general management of Rikolto in Belgium and determines the organisation’s strategy. The Board delegates operational responsibilities to the organisation’s Executive Management: Thibault Geerardyn. The Chair and allother Board members are volunteers. They receive no payment for their services,nor do they have an executive function within the organisation. The directors are appointed for a maximum period of four years, renewable once. The Board has incorporated the principles of good governance into its Articles of Association and Rules and Regulations, based on the Belgian King Baudouin Foundation’s "Good Practices and Recommendations for the Management of Social Profit Organisations".
These are the members of the Belgian Board of Directors at the end of 2022: Kristof Debrabandere (chair), Marijke Beel, Frie De Greef, Koen Dolphen, Els Haelterman, Johan Lambrechts and Toon Martens. In 2022, Karel Bolckmans and Marnix Somers ended their membership in the board, and Johan Lambrechts and Els Haelterman joined as new members. The directors are appointed for a maximum period of four years, renewable once.
At the end of November 2018, Rikolto International and Rikolto Belgium created Rikolto Consult, a limited liability company with social purpose. It was set up to scale the methodologies, methods, tools and instruments that Rikolto International and Rikolto Belgium have been developing in their programmes. Rikolto Consult’s activities are financed by commercial contracts with third parties who seek its consultancy and advisory services. All profits generated by Rikolto Consult go back to Rikolto International and Rikolto Belgium.
Rikolto Belgium and Rikolto International each hold 50% of the shares. The three organisations are related in financial, economic and organisational terms and share a common mission and vision. The respective executive directors of Rikolto Belgium and Rikolto International, Thibault Geerardyn and Chris Claes, have been statutorily appointed as the College of Directors of Rikolto Consult to oversee its daily management. A Supervisory Board has been established consisting of two board members from the Rikolto Belgium and Rikolto International boards of directors. According to the statutes of the two sole shareholders Rikolto Belgium & Rikolto International, this supervisory board can also represent the general assembly of Rikolto Limited.