Overcoming Social Exclusion Through Enterprise

Bank Crédit Coopératif
Client Groupe SOS
Location 17 regions in France

Groupe SOS started in 1984 when Jean-Marc Borello created the association SOS Drogue International, which tackles drug addiction and develops programmes against drug abuse. A year later, SOS Habitat et Soins was launched to respond to the growing HIV epidemic, and in 1994, SOS Insertion et Alternatives was set up to address social exclusion. Together these three organisations united to form Groupe SOS which grew to develop a complete care offer to help people escape from social exclusion. Groupe SOS now consists of 44 social enterprises active across France, la Réunion, Guyane and Mayotte.

‘Each of us benefits from the other’s knowledge: we know the issues Groupe SOS faces and they know the constraints we have as a bank.’

At the core of these organisations is a philosophy of integrated support to help people who are in an economically or socially vulnerable position. Groupe SOS sets out to meet the fundamental needs of society: health, education, employment, elderly care and housing. Within all of their activities, the group aims to create a solidarity-based and sustainable society by building and promoting innovative solutions.

Today, the 44 social businesses of Groupe SOS (enterprises as well as non-profit associations) employ 10,000 people and manage around 300 facilities: hospitals, nurseries, retirement homes, educational facilities for minors, social housing and integration facilities for disabled people. In 2011, the actions of the different bodies of Groupe SOS impacted more than one million beneficiaries.

The economic resilience of Groupe SOS can be explained by its efficient management structure. The group created a shared-services company, Alliance Gestion, which provides professional management skills such as human resources, accounting, communication, fundraising, law, finance and marketing across the whole group. In 2010, aware of the financial difficulties of social enterprises, Groupe SOS launched Le Comptoir de l’Innovation to invest in, support and promote social businesses. In addition to its financial support, Le Comptoir de l’Innovation provides expertise and experience to social entrepreneurs, contributing to the strengthening of the sector.

‘As an actor within the social economy, Crédit Coopératif shares common values with Groupe SOS: transparency, solidarity, respect for the human being and commitment to a fairer society,’ explains Sarah Burgaud, Project Manager, Groupe SOS.

The support of the bank has proved invaluable: ‘Crédit Coopératif has supported our large structural projects and the smaller organisations in our group. The bank is well versed in the issues facing social enterprises so it is able to support us efficiently. Also, since Crédit Coopératif is present all over France, we can access finance for all our facilities in 17 French regions.’

Benoît Bossut, Relationship Manager at Crédit Coopératif, finds it very gratifying to support a client like Groupe SOS, as it has become an major player in the social economy.

‘Our core business fundamentally differentiates us from other banks. Our expertise makes us aware of the concerns of our social economy customers. And each of us benefits from the other’s knowledge: we know the issues Groupe SOS faces and they know the constraints we have as a bank,’ says Benoit.