Investing to meet social and ecological challenges

A look back at France Active's annual general meetings.

A major event in the institutional life of France Active, the general meetings of the association and its two financial guarantee and investment companies were held on May 31 at La Recyclerie in Paris. It was an opportunity for the associative movement to review the past year and look ahead to the years to come.
The major decision of the General Meeting was the vote by the directors on the network’s development plan. To meet the social and ecological challenges facing an increasing number of entrepreneurs, France Active aims to double its solidarity investor activity and increase its guarantor activity by 50% by 2027. The general meetings of France Active’s entities on May 31 approved the raising of three new funds: 10 million euros for the national association, 10 million euros for its guarantee company, and 200 million euros for its investment company.
The first concrete result of these fund-raisings is the new solidarity investment offer, which will be deployed from next September. It will enable social non-profit organizations and companies to meet unmet investment needs. Whether they are encountering difficulties in sustaining their economic model, or wish to respond to new opportunities, they need specific support for their development, and appropriate financing. France Active’s financing offer provides solutions for entrepreneurs at every stage of their project’s life cycle.

France Active Garantie: securing entrepreneurial paths

At the France Active Garantie General Meeting, Dominique Pillon-Godart and Kevin Fournaux from France Active Picardie spoke about the deployment of the Accès+ program in Picardy. Among other things, they talked about the implementation of an educational strategy for beneficiaries, designed to desecrate the relationship with the bank. The aim is to bring project owners and their bankers closer together, so that they can access the guarantee as early as possible in the life of a project. In Picardie, France Active has proudly achieved its Accès+ objectives, thanks to webinars tailored to the needs of beneficiaries and co-constructed with the national association.

France Active Investissement: investing in social benefits

France Active Investissement’s Annual General Meeting was an opportunity for Yesil Rusconi, Director of France Active Ile-de-France, to present a project supported in close collaboration with ADEME (the French Agency for Ecological Transition). She underlined the strong complementariry of the two networks in their support for the company “Le pav鮓. This company reconciles social and environmental concerns. It produces building materials in panel format using plastic waste on a territorial industrial scale, in line with local needs and available resources. The company, created in 2018, was supported from the beginning by France Active and ADEME and again when it scaled up a year ago. The first plant, based in Aubervilliers, employs people on integration schemes in collaboration with ARES (a social insertion association), and recycles 300 tonnes of waste annually. A second plant is currently being developed in Burgundy, at Chalon-sur-Saône.

France Active: connecting solidarity forces

After sharing the association’s main results and validating the annual accounts, the focus was on “Territoire de solutions“, a collaboration and incubation experiment carried out in the “Seine Eure” region, aimed at helping entrepreneurial solutions emerge or accelerate in response to identified social and environmental challenges.

Benoit Rugel, Director of France Active Normandie, Claire Leclerc, Director of SocialCobizz and Pierre Hourcourigaray, Director of l’Adress came to testify.

They showed how, by acting collectively and involving citizens as well as local players, they have been able to support project leaders wishing to create in the social and solidarity economy. This approach enables them to help them formalize, structure and turn their entrepreneurial ideas into reality.
They were then joined by Lynda Lahalle, Social Economy delegate and vice-president of the Normandy region’s economic development commission, who presented the ‘Super incubator’, the territorial social economy hub piloted by the region.

Round table: social challenges, ecological challenges, what kind of citizen ownership of the economy?

  • Claire Thoury, President of Mouvement Associatif, gave a sociologist’s view of how citizens, through associations, are taking up this issue.

  • Anne-Catherine Husson-Traore, general director of Novethic, the sustainable transformation accelerator of the Caisse des Dépôts Group. As a former journalist, she shares her knowledge of the major transformations of the financial sector and sustainable finance in particular.

  • Pierre-René Lemas, president of France Active.

Pierre-René Lemas opens the debate as follows: "This afternoon, we collectively decided to take a step forward. France Active is more than 30 years old, initially founded around social and solidarity values, the association was able to add the ecological dimension. France Active is well aware that social and ecological aspects go hand in hand together.
Today we have defined our five-year horizon: doubling our investment activity and increasing our guarantee activity by 50%. We are equipping ourselves with new resources to this end. Our objective remains the same: to use finance as leverage to develop the Social Economy and enable those who are furthest from employment to create their businesses."

Claire Thoury continues: "France Active is an activist organization, it uses the codes of traditional classical economics to transform society.
I call on the Social Economy to do the same, to repoliticize itself. We depoliticized it and forgot why we were together. What are our common goals? And what sacrifices are we willing to make to achieve them? The economic dimension has taken too much precedence over the political dimension.
Let us bring together the imperatives of social justice and the imperatives of ecological transition, while integrating an essential pillar that is democracy in order to allow citizens to get involved."

Anne-Catherine Husson-Traore adds: "Faced with the gigantism of the challenges that await us here and now, re-politicization is obviously necessary.
It is essential to put in place a sustainable economic, social and ecological model because today it is not the case. Faced with global problems, we need global solutions, and finance is one of the solutions. We need to bring social aspiration, citizenship and finance together."

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