Medical Equipment for Belgium: Importing mouth masks and other medical supplies to Belgium in corona times

May 23, 2020
A couple of months ago, a group of motivated Belgian individuals including our founder Francois de Borchgrave set out to help bring desperately needed medical supplies to Belgium, in a fast efficient way. They named themselves "Medical Equipment for Belgium (MEB)". By putting to use their contacts in the medical and finance world, MEB was able to bring over 130 000 FFP2 masks (with 500.000 more under way), 226 000 pairs of gloves and 50 000 medical gowns, all passing the required quality tests!

This is a translated version of the original article on The Rijkste Belgen.

In March 2020, Alexia Bertrand and her husband Amand-Benoît D’Hondt, together with François de Borchgrave, [co-founder of KOIS], Édouard Janssen and Thomas Van Waeyenberge, founded the non-profit organization ‘Medical Equipment for Belgium’. Their objective: To get FFP2 mouth masks and other medical equipment from China to Belgium during these corona times. The network they bring is already impressive, as are the 10 million € in sponsor funds that they were able to collect very quickly, from a number of the richest Belgian families, such as the Boël , Janssen , D’Ieteren , Delen , Van Waeyenberge, Ackermans and Duco Sickinghe families. Despite these impressive references, the search for mouth masks in China was difficult. Even to the extent that the project’s continuity is hard to guarantee.

Alexia Bertrand is faction leader of the liberal group in the Brussels parliament. But she is also the daughter of Luc Bertrand, the strong man of the family holding company Ackermans & van Haaren, which in turn is, among other things, a reference shareholder of the dredging group Deme. Her husband is an investment manager at AG Real Estate, the real estate arm of the insurance group Ageas. The holding company De Eik of the Van Waeyenberge family, on the other hand, is tried and tested in the worldwide trading of, among other things, food products. Thomas Van Waeyenberge is also married to an emergency doctor. Edouard Janssen represents the reference shareholders of the multinationals UCB and Solvay. Finally,  François de Borchgrave is the driving force behind KOIS, an investment fund that wants to connect the profit sector to the non-profit sector. De Borchgrave founded KOIS in 2010 together with Charles-Antoine Janssen, and KOIS took care of the financing for MEB.

Despite the broad professional network on which the initiators can rely, their project remained a challenge. MEB had to send 35 Chinese companies over the test bench. But the worldwide market is competitive and expensive. The United States currently has the most capacity. And the pressure on the kettle attracts all kinds of adventurers looking for quick money gain. However, in the past weeks, the non-profit organization managed to import 130,000 high-quality FFP2 masks, 500,000 surgical masks, 226,000 pairs of gloves and 50,000 scrubs. “Still, we’d think twice before we start over” say the initiators in the newspaper L’Echo. They are now considering how to proceed with their non-profit organization in the light of the evolution of the pandemic, while 500,000 masks are still on the road from China to Belgium.

Follow KOIS on social media or subscribe for more updates!

You may also like…

KOIS Newsletter – Scaling innovative and impactful business models with sustainable financing

While not-for-profit and social organizations play a crucial role in our society, they often struggle in scaling their operations & impact. More than ever, we need to help these impact-driven organisations to attract new and sustainable sources of funding.

In this newsletter, we present our thoughts and finding on how to help scale innovative & impactful business models.

Scaling innovative and impactful models: Case study #1 – Eyecare clinics in the DRC

Scaling innovative and impactful models: Case study #1 – Eyecare clinics in the DRC

Many impact-driven organizations play significant roles in promoting a fairer and more sustainable world. However, they often face considerate struggles in scaling up their operations & impact, and attracting new sources of funding.

Over the years, KOIS has worked with many organizations to help them in their scale-up process. Today, we present a first case study: assisting Light for the World in the scale-up plan of their ophthalmologic centers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.