French social businesses get €400 million boost with EIF support

EIF signs two accords with France Active to unlock more funding for social enterprises.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) will facilitate a total of €400 million in business support by France Active, a leading financier of socially committed French firms. The EIF is guaranteeing France Active investments in social enterprises to the tune of €45 million and counter-guaranteeing €355 million of bank loans by its unit France Active Garantie to entrepreneurs with limited access to financing.

As a result, France Active will aim to double the number of beneficiary companies to 1,000 by end-2027, increasing annual support to €90 million, and France Active Garantie will expand its activities by 50% over the same period. This will lead to more than 10,000 companies benefiting from bank-loan guarantees valued at €300 million a year.”The involvement of Europe – and of the EIF in particular – is essential to the work of France Active,” said Chairman Pierre-René Lemas. “It enables us to carry out our associative project by mobilising public and private funds, banks and management companies for the benefit of fragile entrepreneurs and projects that place social utility at the heart of their model. Supporting our role as guarantor and investor, the EIF provides us with long-term support, which in turn contributes to the development of a more socially responsible economy in all regions.”The EIF backing results from a guarantee provided through the InvestEU programme, which supports more than €372 billion in investments towards EU policy priorities through 2027.

“Supporting the lending capacity of microenterprises and social enterprises is very important for maintaining job creation and activity in structures essential to social cohesion in France and throughout Europe,” said Fayolle. “Through these two agreements, the EIB Group is delighted to be able to strengthen its long-term relationship with France Active Garantie and France Active, which play an essential role in supporting and developing social entrepreneurship in France”.

Social enterprises supported by France Active through EIF and InvestEU guarantees include the Iron Academy, an association called Le Recho that supports exiled people in France and food supplier Shape-Eat, representatives of which attended the signing ceremony.

“European instruments for microfinance and social enterprises are effective in improving access to financial resources for economic players who need them most,” said EIF Chief Executive Officer Marjut Falkstedt. “This is why the EIF is renewing its collaboration with France Active Garantie and France Active Investissement to strengthen our ability to serve the social finance sector in France.”

European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit stressed the role of InvestEU.”InvestEU provides essential support for social enterprises across Europe,” Schmit said. “This new financial agreement will be a catalyst for some 10,000 enterprises operating in France, improving their access to financing. This will help create new jobs and contribute to strengthening the social and solidarity economy, which is a priority for the European Union, while reinforcing social and territorial cohesion.”Following are the names of the leading representatives of the Iron Academy, Le Recho and Shape-Eat and summaries of the three organisations:

Françoise Candier, director of the Iron Academy

The Iron Academy is a production school located in Stains, Seine-Saint-Denis. It trains young people who have left school without a diploma in the metal trades (CAP Métallier). The two-year course is based on a “doing to learn” approach. Supported by a public-interest association, the production school gives young people a new chance by training them in jobs that are in short supply.

France Active has invested €150,000 alongside Banque des Territoires.

Vanessa Krycève, founder of Le Recho

Le Recho is an association founded in 2016 to support exiled people in France and Europe with dignity. In order to change the way these people are looked at, the association chooses the medium of cuisine based on the principle that it is a unifying language, a driving force for inclusion and solidarity. Le Recho offers a catering service and provides meals for the Ball in Paris’s 18th arrondissement, in addition to all its food-related activities.
France Active invested €30,000 and guaranteed a €60,000 loan from the Nef banking cooperative, up to 65%.

Ananth Purushothaman, founder of Shape-Eat

Ananth Purushothaman created Shape-Eat. He benefitted from the Accès + program: a €3,000 bonus and enhanced support set up as part of the government’s scheme for inclusion through self-employment (Ministry of Labor). He set up his business in the heart of a priority district in Saint-Ouenand offers food products for athletes.

France Active guaranteed 80% of a €60,000 loan from the Caisse d’Epargne Ile de France and granted a €24,000 loan.

About the European Investment Fund

The European Investment Fund, part of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group, designs and implements financial instruments that enable banks and funds (financial intermediaries) to better serve SMEs. It supports European SMEs by improving their access to financing through a wide range of selected financial intermediaries. Its work with France Active is part of the InvestEU program, which aims to give a further boost to sustainable investment, innovation, social inclusion and job creation in Europe.

About InvestEU

The InvestEU programme provides the European Union with crucial long-term financing, mobilizing substantial private and public funds for a sustainable recovery. It also helps mobilize private investment for the European Union’s political priorities, such as the European Green Deal and the digital transition. The InvestEU program brings together under one roof the various EU financial instruments currently available to support investment in the European Union, making the financing of investment projects in Europe simpler, more efficient and more flexible. The program consists of three elements: the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Centre and the InvestEU Portal. The InvestEU fund is implemented by financial partners who will invest in projects using the EU budget guarantee of €26.2 billion. The entire budget guarantee will support the investment projects of the implementing partners, increasing their risk-bearing capacity and thus mobilizing at least €372 billion in additional investment.

France Active, the movement of committed entrepreneurs

France Active enables every entrepreneur to get involved in a project with a positive impact. Setting up a business and getting involved in the local community, giving meaning to your project and transforming society: that’s the challenge facing committed entrepreneurs. France Active and its 35 regional associations are there to advise them on their financing projects and give them access to a unique network of economic and social players. With its 2 finance companies, France Active supports more than 36,000 entrepreneurs. The movement mobilized 485 million euros in 2023. Every day, France Active works to develop a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Last year, businesses supported by France Active created or consolidated more than 67,000 jobs.

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39,000 socially committed entrepreneurs supported by France Active in 2021

Focused more than ever on social utility

Montreuil, 3rd February 2022

With more than 39,000 enterprises supported, France Active sets a record in 2021. To ensure this support and foster a sustainable and inclusive economy, the non-profit organization has raised €508 million (+23% compared to 2020), including 25% in favour of companies in difficulty. France Active’s action enabled to create and safeguard 66,000 jobs (+13% compared to 2020).

Such results have been achieved thanks to France Active’s adaptability during the crisis and then the recovery. The non-profit organisation tailors its financial as well as non-financial support to each entrepreneur’s needs and leaves no one behind. It follows thus a two-fold objective: to foster the development of the most ambitious socially committed entrepreneurs and to better protect the most fragile ones.

A record support to socially committed entrepreneurs

As the first non-profit organisation network dedicated to socially committed entrepreneurship, France Active advised and financed more than 39,000 enterprises in 2021 (compared to 30,000 in 2020). All of them were committed for job creation, territorial development, social link, the environment, or also a democratic governance.

France Active invested €508 million (+23 % compared to 2020). This network encompassing 35 regional associations could act in a challenging economic context thanks to its financial company, France Active Garantie, and its social investment company, France Active Investissement.

France Active mobilizes the solidarity-based savings of the French collected by its shareholders (through employee savings, retirement savings, or life insurance). It enables savers to give meaning to their savings. In 2021, €43 million were collected by France Active Investissement (compared to €18 million in 2020).

This is a virtuous investment as those enterprises created or consolidated 66,000 jobs (including 38,0000 direct job creation), i.e., +13% compared to 2020. This is a particularly relevant data as the latest impact study shows that those enterprises double their workforce 4 years after their creation.

“We are proud to have passed the milestone of half a billion invested for our socially committed entrepreneurs. Each year, this economy which places social utility at the heart of its project continues to grow because it responds to a real awareness. Everyone is now convinced that it provides solutions, where the traditional economy has shown its limits, particularly during the crisis,” explains Pierre-René LEMAS, the president of France Active.

Protecting the most fragile entrepreneurs in their career

France Active supports the financial inclusion of people far from banking system. This means concrete actions for people in situation of high precariousness who represent 35% of the entrepreneurs creating their business supported by France Active in 2021.

For instance, France Active strengthened the support it offers within its creation pact by joining the “Integration Through Self-employment” programme of the French Ministry of Labour. From September 2021 until 2023, the ambition is to enable 4 000 entrepreneurs in fragile situations to create their business.


There’s been a strong focus in 2021 on areas that are far from economic dynamics: almost 30% of the entrepreneurs supported by France Active are carrying out their activities in priority urban neighbourhoods and rural areas.


To secure the relationship between those entrepreneurs and their banks, France Active has raised more than €300 million in bank loan guarantees, with virtually no personal guarantee from them.


The last way of protecting the entrepreneurs used by France Active are equity or quasi-equity investments, which represent more than €50 million in 2021. They are made with other solidarity-based investors in favour of the most socially committed entrepreneurs. This collective framework enables the entrepreneurs to serenely develop their project and to preserve their social purpose over time.

Taking part in the recovery of all organisations affected by the crisis

France Active also supports social economy organisations. Those represent 52% of the directly funded projects in 2021, at all stages of the business lifecycle: pre-seed, creation, development, scaling-up.


There’s been a strong focus on the enterprises that had to cope with difficulties during the covid-19 crisis. In 2021, France Active focused 45% of its work on the recovery of enterprises (compared to 14% in 2020).


France Active also strengthened its support of non-profit organisations by supporting 5,000 small social economy organisations (less than 10 employees) and by implementing:

  • the French State Secretariat of social, solidarity-based, and responsible economy €30 million-fund, called UrgencESS,
  • the solidarity-based recovery loan alongside with Banque des Territoires and private partners (Fondation de France, solidarity-based investors; banks; mutuals).


« The uniqueness of our work is to address the real needs of the territories and to finance all stakeholders who take part in the social economy and who place the human-being at the heart of their action. Their role is fundamental in strengthening social cohesion and moving towards a fairer society.” Concludes Pierre-René LEMAS.

Three stories of socially committed entrepreneurs

Envie Autonomie

Envie Autonomie endeavours to make the society more united, more inclusive, and more environmentally friendly. It supports women and men excluded from the labour market by providing them with a job and qualifications. This network offers collection and renovation of medical equipment.

>Web Site

  • Investment : €160 ,000 in 2021


WeDressFair offers an alternative to the “Fast Fashion” by bringing together different brands and ethical collections. It meets consumers’ expectations for more ethics, responsibility, and respect for the environment thanks to its physical shop in Lyon and a web shop.

>Web Site

  • Bank loan guarantee: €48,750 in 2019
  • Investment: €250,000 in 2019 and 2020

The multiservice shop of Pauline Girbal
Pauline Girbal decided in 2020 to take over the grocer’s shop of her town, Saint-Urcize in the Cantal. Using shorter supply circuits and working with local producers, her shop boosts her town with 500 inhabitants. Thanks to the support of France Active, she provides a neighbourhood service, social links and offers local products.
> Facebook Page

  • Bank loan guarantee: €30,000 in 2020

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Découvrez toutes l’actus

The UrgencESS fund, which has helped nearly 5,000 small associations to cope with the crisis, has reached its target

In January 2021, Olivia Grégoire, Secretary of State to the Minister of the Economy, Finance and Recovery, in charge of the Social, Solidarity and Responsible Economy, mobilized an emergency fund of 30 million euros for social and solidarity economy (SSE) structures with fewer than 10 employees, hit by the crisis. This financial aid, ranging from 5,000 euros for structures with 1 to 3 employees to 8,000 euros for structures with 4 to 10 employees, has helped 4,866 structures experiencing economic difficulties related to the current turmoil, most of which are associations. The impact on job preservation is concrete: thanks to this support, nearly 16,000 jobs have been saved. Deployed by France Active and its 35 associations, UrgencESS has made it possible, in addition to financial aid, to support solidarity structures in maintaining their activity. They benefited from a diagnosis of their economic situation and received advice to help them find new financing solutions, notably thanks to the measures deployed within the framework of France Relance.Some of them also received support from the operation’s partners, such as the network of Local Support Facilities (DLA) or KissKissBankBank, the pioneer of participatory financing which belongs to the La Poste Group.

Olivia Grégoire

Secretary of State for the Social, Solidarity and Responsible Economy

The structures that we have been able to support through the crisis are better equipped to engage in the recovery, which concerns all economic actors in the country. We must now continue our policy of supporting SSE companies by developing new sustainable financing compatible with the solidarity dimension they carry on a daily basis.

Pierre-René Lemas

President of France Active

With UrgencESS, we have been able to provide a more than tangible response to associations as well as to companies fully mobilized on the development of social ties, culture or ecology. And we have also enabled them to think about their model for rebounding from the crisis and to project themselves into a fully supportive recovery.

Here are a few examples of structures
which benefitted from Urgencess

Solikend – Innovating for a local, off-season and solidarity tourism
Pyrénées Atlantiques

Solikend is an innovative project in the hotel industry in favor of the associative world, built on a unique hybrid economic model on the territory. Yoann Magnin, the creator, wishes to deploy the first solidarity reservation via a unique platform that references the “citizen hotels in New Aquitaine” and gives a part of the money as donations for the associations. This online reservation service for associations is based on several principles: a system for rapid use of donations, a system designed in the interest of off-season tourism players and a price modulation (between 75 and 125%) allowing different user profiles to participate in the collection of donations. With 7 jobs created in 2021, the structure could not afford to slow down its development with the pandemic: the UrgencESS bonus allowed them to stay the course and initiate a new phase of development of solidarity tourism in the Basque Country.

Triporteur à cartouches – Recycle your printer cartridges in Hauts-de-France !

The association of the Cartridge Carriers, known as “TAC”, was born in 2011 under the impulse of 3 people, with the objective of raising awareness of the general public to the environment and eco-citizenship. Based on the observation that many printing wastes are still thrown away in the common household waste, TAC organizes collections of used printing cartridges in Hauts-de-France from companies, associations, communities and individuals to recycle them. Very committed to the ecological niche, it carries out these collections in soft mobility with a three-wheeler in the city of Lille and in electric vehicles outside the city. Thanks to the latter, the association conveys the image and the concept to the general public. Weakened by the crisis, the structure benefited from an UrgencESS bonus of 5000 euros in April.

In the 19th district – A Chacun ses vacances

Located in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, A Chacun Ses Vacances is an association that offers leisure activities and stays for people with mental disabilities, regardless of the type and degree of mental disability, without discrimination. The association works with small groups: it always proposes activities or stays with less than 10 members. The supervision goes from 1 leader for 1 member to 1 leader for 3 members maximum. It offers regular activities : tennis, horseback riding, workshops and visits, and evening outings (restaurant, concert, bowling).
Like all tourist activities, A Chacun Ses Vacances has seen the pandemic shake its cash flow and benefited in June from the UrgencEss scheme to secure its jobs.

Tibert éditions : In Allier, illustrated books, a spirit of collection

Since 2016, Tibert Editions is dedicated to the rediscovery of beautiful illustrated books. Working on the entire chain of the book, the structure aims to revalue the craft of publishing and the beauty of the book as an object. The confinement, the closing of bookshops and the primacy of certain large stores for the sale of books has raised many fears for Tibert éditions which had never known a cash flow problem. The UrgencEss bonus came to secure the cash flow in April to allow the structure to hold on before the reopening.

Sitaphy: integration of the disabled in the Yonne.

Since 2002, the Sitaphy association has been developing a manufacturing activity for wooden medieval toys designed to promote the social and professional integration of disabled workers within an Integration Workshop (ACI). It produces nearly 40,000 pieces per year, in a sustainable development approach using only local wood. Very much rooted in its Burgundian territory, the structure sees its role as an actor of social cohesion recognized in the local integration networks. It contributes to the collective approaches of the ACI in the Yonne, runs various workshops and has established various partnerships with structures in the field of disability. Sitaphy received an UrgencESS bonus last May at the height of the crisis.

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France Active launches the 1st Seed Fund fully devoted to social innovation entrepreneurs.

France Active launches the 1st Seed Fund fully devoted to social innovation entrepreneurs.

Montreuil, Tuesday 4th February 2020

Obtaining financial assistance and counselling at the first and critical stage of commercial introduction, is often difficult, especially for those embarking on social innovation. To give social entrepreneurs the means to face this high-risk stage, France Active launches the first seed fund of 10 Million Euros.

​Under the French Impact banner (an initiative led by the French government), the brand new Seed fund, has been selected by the European Commission to strengthen France Active’s ability to advise and invest in committed social entrepreneurial projects. This project is also supported by the High-Commission for Social and Solidarity Economy and Social Innovation (HCESS).

This Seed Fund was officially launched on February 4th, 2020, in presence of Ann Branch, Head of the « Job Creation » Unit, in the « Employment, social affairs and inclusion » Directorate. Christophe Itier, High-Commissionner for Social and Solidarity Economy and Social Innovation, and Chistophe Genter, director of the Social Innovation and Territorial Cohesion Department at the Bank of the Territories.

Objective : Finance 100 companies for a total amount invested of €10 million

The crucial first fundraising that will allow a project to be launched concretely or to scale up is the most stressful phase for the entrepreneur. A recent OpinionWay survey for France Active showed that while 42% of 18-30 year olds say they want to start their own business, nearly 80% of them acknowledge that they would not be able to do so without help. 31% of them mention a need for financing, 21% want support to access a professional network, 20% want to be supported by a coach, etc.

Therefore, France Active decided to hasten its action in favor of social entrepreneurs, especially those in seed stage, with:

  • the mobilization of 12 advisors who will provide tailor-made advice in each region to entrepreneurs who place social innovation at the heart of their project.
  • the creation of this Seed Fund, a solidarity-based seed capital offer dedicated to social innovation structures that will enable them to obtain equity financing of between 50,000 euros and 200,000 euros, as well as support during the first round of financing.

Over the next two years, France Active aims at financing and supporting 100 social business in metropolitan France as well as in its overseas territories, for a total investment of €10 million.

As part of the official launch of this new fund, France Active organized an event on February 4th, 2020 with 6 social entrepreneurs who benefited from a fundraising. Thus, Simplon, Label Emmaüs, Moulinot, Eco-Mégot, Le Drive Tout Nu, Ecov, were invited to talk about their experience with other future entrepreneurs.

  • Simplon is a social company that intends to make digital technology a lever for inclusion, revealing different talents whom are currently little represented in the digital economy. It accompanies organizations, to make their digital transformation inclusive and providing them with technical solutions (high-performance and responsible websites and applications). Today, Simplon builds a network of digital factories in France and abroad. Since its creation in 2013, more than 6200 trainees have been trained, including 40% of women and 50% of whom have few or no qualifications.
  • Label Emmaüs : This cooperative is a web-based e-commerce platform, which belongs to the Emmaüs Movement, created in 2016. It enables a multitude of items sold in the Emmaus shops to be purchased online. More generally, the label supports a digital solidarity transformation project within the movement, by offering a new distribution channel for items sold by the communities. It is also helping to build Emmaüs companions’ capacities by teaching them new trading techniques. The cooperative also builds professional integration programs for the job fields of the future such as web development, web marketing and logistical support.
  • Moulinot : is a solidarity-based company pioneering in the management of food waste also called “biowaste”. As early as 2014, it came up with an innovative solution to an insolvable issue, by proposing to raise awareness and train restaurant owners located in Ile-de-France to set up a waste sorting system in their kitchen. The company comes, collects these wastes on a daily basis thanks to the use of ecofriendly vehicles, and bring it back to the firm in the region. From that point, Moulinot has developed 2 ways to reuse it, either as compost, or by transporting it to agricultural methanizers to make biogas or electricity. This activity is also supporting a social project, aimed at bringing marginalized people back to employment through training and construction of integration programs. Supported during the seed stage by France Active in 2014, the company is now the leading player in this sector among all the Parisian region.
  • EcoMegot provides a complete, professional and local solution to raise awareness, collect and reuse cigarette butts for both private and public actors. To this end, it sets up specific ashtrays from where these butts will be collected and treated afterwards. It follows a twofold objective: on the one end it contributes to the depollution in urban and natural spaces, on the other end, it creates local employment.
  • Ecov is an innovative, social and solidarity-based start-up. Its objective is to use cars as a collective means of transportation by developing local solutions for carpooling, with and on behalf of local collectivity. Ecov offers local car-sharing lines in peri-urban and rural areas, providing a solution to the issue of desertification, public transportation shortage, and the subsequent isolation in those areas.
  • Le Drive Tout Nu : Opened in 2018 next to Toulouse, thanks to solidarity-based finance, Drive Tout Nu is the first zero waste drive, 100% responsible. It offers food, cosmetics, and household products in zero-waste version. By combining the bulk with the convenience of the drive, Drive Tout Nu aims to democratize a more responsible and ecological consumption for everyone. At least 60% of the products are sourced within a 100km range, and are produced organically or assimilated. 100% of the products are provided within a reusable packaging, and 10cts are offered as a voucher for each returned container. For an equal amount, the products are 10 to 40% cheaper than their packaged equivalent.

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Press release

Social entrepreneurs: a strengthened offer for seed stage

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Montreuil, 30 october 2019

Very few business support organisations operate in seed stage, although it is a key period in business creation. It is even more relevant for entrepreneurs who are primarily focused on having a strong social impact in society. To succeed, fundraising is a fundamental step when starting a company. This is where France Active comes in.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Number 1 social funder in France and pioneer in the field of support services to social enterprises, France Active supports entrepreneurs at all stages of their company’s life: from seed stage to scale-up. As seed stage is a difficult phase, France Active launches a dedicated program that has been awarded the “French Impact” label (initiative of the French government). With the support of France Active’s partners and the shareholders of its investment company, it will enable new entrepreneurs to start out and to offer concrete solutions to tackle current social and environmental challenges.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]France Active is strengthening its action towards social enterprises and developing funding, coaching and networking services for social entrepreneurs in seed stage. This will be even more possible thanks to the European Commission support, as France Active’s answer to the call for proposals “EaSI – Transaction cost support for social enterprise finance market” has been selected. Along with capacity building of 10 local advisers, those additional means will be entirely dedicated to seed stage support. It will thus enable to fill a gap in the social enterprise finance market by providing innovative social enterprises with appropriate equity funding (between 20K€ and 100K€) as well as personalised coaching and networking services. This 2-year project aims at supporting 100 social enterprises in the territories concerned. [/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_btn title="Download the press release" shape="square" color="vista-blue" size="lg" align="center" i_icon_fontawesome="fa fa-download" add_icon="true" link="||target:%20_blank|"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/12"][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section][vc_section][vc_row full_width="stretch_row_content_no_spaces" css=".vc_custom_1507207606477{background-color: #fcfcfc !important;}"][vc_column][related_post_fa posts_per_page="15"][vc_single_image image="485" alignment="center" el_class="no-margin-bottom"][vc_empty_space height="5px" el_class="no-margin-bottom"][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section][vc_section full_width="stretch_row" css=".vc_custom_1507158369201{border-top-width: 1px !important;border-top-color: #1c1c1c !important;}"][vc_row full_width="stretch_row_content"][vc_column][vc_empty_space height="30px"][vc_custom_heading text="Autres News" font_container="tag:h2|text_align:center" use_theme_fonts="yes" el_class="font-zilla-bold-italic arrow-green-bottom title-padding " css=".vc_custom_1507768799388{margin-top: -20px !important;}"][vc_empty_space height="30px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row_content_no_spaces"][vc_column][related_post_fa posts_per_page="15"][vc_empty_space height="30px"][vc_btn title="Découvrez toute l'actu" color="vista-blue" align="center" link="|||"][vc_empty_space height="65px"][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section]

Young people want to be entrepreneurs, but they don’t want to do it alone!

France Active scales up its work with them, with an emphasis on social innovation.

Paris, 23 April 2019

What do French people think about business creation today? And, more specifically, how do 18-30 year olds see entrepreneurship? To answer these questions, France Active and OpinionWay consulted the French public and especially young people, whose attitudes to business creation are characterised by courage, realism and strong convictions. The results confirm the value of France Active’s work with business creators, and especially its development plan: accelerate the success of socially minded entrepreneurs.

  • 42.5% of young people want to be entrepreneurs

Of the18-30 year olds surveyed, 42.5% expressed a desire to create their own business. More than half of young people are more interested in being entrepreneurs than employees. This is a response to concerns about boredom at work (43%).

Having said that, these young people are not ready to rush blindly into a business venture: 55% say they are reluctant to make the leap for financial reasons, 37% because of complex procedures. Only 20% fear an extremely large workload, which is far from the common perception of a disillusioned generation.

So what do they need to help them get started? For 78% of young people, the answer is clear: they would like a helping hand. This may be financing for their project (31%), the support of a professional network (21%)coaching (20%) or a bank loan (6%).

But this clarity is accompanied by a lack of vital information : 70% of 18-30 year olds say they do not know about the resources currently available to help them start a business. This figure rises to 76% among 25-30 year olds.

  • Two drivers for entrepreneurs: fulfilling their potential and changing society

Why start a business? For 60% of young people, it is above all a way to change the world. For 30%, the preferred model is one in which all employees are decision-makers in a cooperative enterprise (SCOP – société cooperative de production), while 25% are focused projects linked to sustainable development or the environment. More than 20% would be prepared to start a business that could contribute to social cohesion and further the development of their region, while almost 20% would start a social project that combats poverty and exclusion.

This “socially committed” vision of entrepreneurship does not exclude individual ambition. When we asked 18-30 year olds about their personal reasons for wanting to start a business, one answer stood out: 59% thought it was a way to avoid being unemployed. After that came the concept of freedom (51%), the desire to create their own job as well as others (36%) and the prospect of earning money (36%).

These results align with what we hear from the young entrepreneurs we support,” says Pierre-René Lemas, President of France Active. “They want to change the world and fulfil their own potential. They all believe that it is possible to invest in a socially beneficial project while also making a profit! This is entirely in line with our approach: as a pillar in the field of solidarity finance, we promote this same concept of a social economy that is profitable, economically competitive and that supports job creation and regional development.”
When it comes to the sector in which they would like to start up, young people have very diverse ambitions: the leisure, sport and culture sector tops the list (16%), followed by IT (10%), and the rest of the projects are extremely varied, with crafts coming in third (7%) and environmental projects in sixth position.

  • To meet these needs, France Active is scaling up its work with young people

Against this background, France Active, France’s leader in the field of solidarity finance, is reinforcing its support for young people in two ways (in 2018 17% of business creators were under 26 years old and one-third were under 30).

By supporting entrepreneurs who have the most difficulty accessing bank services:

Inherently socially minded, France Active’s 2019 strategy will prioritise people who have the greatest difficulty in securing financing. Young people are central to this priority, especially those who are developing their project in the most vulnerable regions.
In 2018, 20% of projects supported were located in high-priority urban or rural regeneration areas. This regional targeting increased by 6% in the first quarter of 2019.

Another priority for its activities is highly vulnerable people (long-term unemployed or those eligible for only minimal benefits) who want to grow their business. In the first quarter, they made up 36% of the businesses supported, already 3% more than in 2018.

By ramping up support for SSE companies

Entrepreneurs in the SSE field receive support from France Active in every phase of their project.

In 2019, France Active is ramping up its support, especially for young people, in two key phases :

  • Seed stage, with the launch of “Place de l’émergence”, a new programme allowing young business creators to assess the feasibility of their project and bringing together financial partners. These future entrepreneurs will receive tailored support and mentoring from an established social entrepreneur. From September on, “Place de l’émergence” will multiply the impact of the current trust fund (more than 100 projects every year).
  • Early stages, a key period in business creation requiring a search for financing. France Active has expertise in financial risk management, advice and creating connections between stakeholders who want to develop innovative projects that benefit society. In 2019, France Active is intensifying the efforts of its 42 regional associations to identify stakeholders wishing to get involved in promoting social cohesion, employment and environmental sustainability.

“Very few structures operate in the seed and early creation stages. This is a unique strength of France Active,” explains Pierre-René Lemas. “It is even more relevant for SSE companies whose ambitions span both social awareness and economic performance. Our support enables them to address unmet needs and offer concrete solutions to the great societal challenges that we must all face together.”

Download the press release – Available in french

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15 Fév 2019
Press releases

France Active, a driver for employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy, with 7,500 companies supported in 2018

Paris, 15 February 2019

Entrepreneurship and social cohesion

A review of France Active’s activities in 2018 clearly demonstrates its profound social commitment and the contribution it has made to the rise of socially minded entrepreneurs.

The “social” aspect is evident in the entrepreneurs it has supported in the start-up phase: 90% of those supported were unemployed, one-third of whom were classed unemployed or eligible only for minimum benefits. And “commitment” is reflected in the growing number of these entrepreneurs who seek to create social or environmental impact through their project. This makes France Active the leading finance-provider for the Social and Solidarity Economy.

Almost 7,500 companies were created in 2018 thanks to the its support, resulting in the creation or preservation of 40,000 jobs across all regions. In total, 306 million euros were raised in the form of guaranteed bank loans, investments, solidarity loans and grants.

Contributing to business creation and employment

With nearly 7,500 companies supported in 2018, France Active confirms its position as the leading solidarity finance-provider. For companies just starting out, 90% of entrepreneurs were unemployed, with one-third of them classed long-term unemployed or eligible only for minimum benefits. Holding fewer diplomas than France’s other entrepreneurs, 57% had only a school-leaver certificate (baccalauréat, equivalent to the UK’s A-levels) or a low-level diploma. Almost 30% of them are under 30 years old, and 20% are developing their project in difficult areas (government-identified priority zones and rural areas). Half of all projects supported by France Active are managed by women. The overall result is a positive social and societal footprint for the economy since these socially minded entrepreneurs created or maintained 40,000 jobs. For more information, see the complete France Active impact study (available in french).

Facilitating access to bank financing for everyone: France Active’s guarantee

Keen to facilitate access to bank financing, France Active has launched and implemented a new guarantee offer to help clear obstacles from the path of those who might have the most difficulty securing loans, such as the long-term unemployed, young people, women, and people living or setting up a business within disadvantaged regions.

Entrepreneurs can now benefit from a bank loan guarantee of up to 80% of the borrowed amount. In return, banks do not demand entrepreneurs be personally liable. This deal was struck with banks and public finance-providers (the EU, countries with Social Cohesion Funds and local authorities), convinced of the socially transformative role of entrepreneurship.

This kind of hybrid financing gives everyone the same chance of succeeding and offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop the economy of their area and contribute to social cohesion. With €255 million raised in 2018 through bank loan guarantees, last year France Active secured financing for nearly 5,500 entrepreneur projects.

Entrusted to France Active Garantie, the Social Cohesion Fund also guarantees micro-loans granted to entrepreneurs who are excluded from the banking system, particularly those issued by the Association for the Right to Business Initiative (Association pour le droit à l’initiative économique – l’Adie).

This action to promote the creation of new businesses is consistent with the new direction Bpifrance has been given by the French government. Alongside the European Investment Fund, Bpifrance has long been a partner of France Active, guaranteeing part of its activity. Bpifrance is to increase its support for the network’s activities throughout 2019.

The aim : to finance companies during start-up

France Active is one of France’s leading finance-providers for socially conscious companies. Of the 1,355 Social and Solidarity Economy organisations funded in 2018, 36% were starting up or in the early phase of creation – the riskiest phases in the life of an SSE business. Known for its ability to advise and support these companies, France Active promotes social innovation and offers opportunities to the major SSE stakeholders of the future. In terms of sustainability and economic performance, a 2014-2018 impact study of the 5,771 companies or associations supported in 2014 shows the real results of socially conscious companies. Four out of five entrepreneurs are still active three years after receiving funding; 10% more than the national average! Their job creation rate is also twice the national average. Read the study (available in french)

The social mission of companies financed by France Active Investissement

SSE Companies – Social Mission 2018
Regional cohesion 30%
Employment and training – Support for people in insecure situations 21%
Culture and general education, recreation, socio-cultural events 19%
Sustainable economy (sustainable food, organic sector, eco-activities and eco-circular, renewable energies) 16%
Health and social action/Access to healthcare 9%
Access to housing 3%
Fighting exclusion/Social work 2%

These results prove that finance can, and must, benefit society,” comments Pierre-René Lemas, President of France Active. “We can create value by addressing unmet social and regional needs. This is France Active’s mission: to give finance a transformative role, offering each entrepreneur the means to be part of the major transitions we are experiencing. This is a new path for the finance industry, in line with the expectations of society as a whole.”

Download the press release – Available in french

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Paris, 12 December 2018

Results of a major study assessing our impact on socially-committed entrepreneurs

France Active, the movement of socially-committed entrepreneurs, has been a pioneer in the field of solidarity finance for 30 years. Every two years, it evaluates the impact of its involvement on the success of projects financed three years previously. This major study, conducted in May 2018 by TMO Régions, covers 5,771 companies and associations supported in 2014, 708 of which took part in a telephone survey. It provides information on the background of the entrepreneurs supported, the sustainability of their project and their capacity to grow and create jobs.

Very encouraging results showing momentum that
far exceeds the national average
in terms of job creation and economic performance

Job creation double the national average

Figures on the creation and uptake of jobs supported by France Active show a particularly strong dynamic in job creation. In fact, having launched their business with on average 2.1 employees (compared to the national average of 1.9), these companies were employing, on average, 4.5 people three years later, compared to a national average of 2.9, showing growth of 114% compared to the national average of 52%.

It is worth noting that this growth occurred primarily in the creation of permanent contracts (45% of employees signed permanent contracts in 2018, a figure which has tripled in three years). In total, companies supported by France Active in 2014 had 38,600 employees on their payrolls in May 2018, bringing the estimated net total of posts created to 19,500.

Survival rate after four years 10% above the national average

Of the companies created, 79% are still in business after three years, 8% more than the national average. The survival rate after four years is 74%, (10% higher than the average).
The comprehensive and tailored support France Active provides to socially-committed entrepreneurs (through advice, financing and networking) has proven particularly effective: it has allowed 40% of business creators to bring their projects to fruition, as well as 58% of those developing their projects.
Lastly, these entrepreneurs are particularly optimistic about their future, with eight out of ten saying they are satisfied with their last project, around one in two wishing to grow their business and one-third planning to take on more staff!

Do these entrepreneurs have a magic formula? The human values that underpin these companies, and the meaning they find in their professional commitment are undoubtedly the keys to their long-term success and their optimism.
All they need to spark their success is a helping hand from France Active, which gives them access to financing and supports them throughout the different stages of their entrepreneurial journey.

Pierre-René Lemas, President of France Active explains, “One of our main goals is to open up entrepreneurship opportunities for the most vulnerable, especially young people who are unemployed or in insecure situations, and women, who are often discriminated against when it comes to access to employment. We also try to help those who are starting out in vulnerable regions, in both inner city and rural areas. I am proud to see that we have come a long way towards achieving this goal, and, above all, that these socially-committed entrepreneurs are growing faster than the average and creating value and high quality jobs!”

Download the press release – Available in french

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Social economy growth pact: a place for France Active


Pierre-René Lemas, President of France Active welcomed the measures in the SSE growth pact, announced on Thursday 29 November by Christophe Itier, France’s High Commissioner for Social and Solidarity Economy and Social Innovation. He praised the willingness to place this economy at the heart of the European and international agenda : SSE is a powerful driver for social cohesion and consciousness which must extend beyond our borders.

Among the measures announced to promote social entrepreneurship, France Active welcomed :

  • The development of start-up funds, and support through advice and financing, which France Active has prioritised for years in order to support SSE companies in the start-up or early creation phases.
    With this initiative, the French government is giving us the means to carry out activities in even more favourable conditions.
  • Simplification of the accreditation for “social business” (entreprise solidaire d’utilité sociale) status, a measure that will stimulate efforts to create businesses that are more beneficial to society, more democratic in their governance and more balanced in their pay structures.

From a wider perspective, France Active wants to participate fully in preliminary collaboration led by the High Commissioner and will help to implement the SSE growth pact.

As Pierre-René Lemas explained, “For 30 years, France Active has been supporting a growing number of entrepreneurs who want to contribute to the creation of a more sustainable and inclusive economy. Our results speak for themselves: we have supported more than 200,000 entrepreneurs who have maintained or created more than 500,000 jobs.
Our positive impact on employment, wealth creation and regional development is measured in concrete terms: I look forward to the publication, on 12 December, of a major survey on the impact of France Active; a study covering 5771 entrepreneurs supported by us in 2014 and monitored over three years.”

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