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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Made-In-France Social Entrepreneurship Spreading To California – Emblematic Instances Showcased At SOCAP 2014

In France, the social and solidarity economy accounts for 10% of jobs and GDP. This economy involves 200,000 businesses and entities and it has grown by 23% in the past 10 years. Those businesses were successful in combining social impact in the public interest with the profitability and reliability found in standard companies. Those models are acting as the spearhead of a new economy, for they are more socially effective and they cost less to the community. They are called “social enterprises”.

The Paris Region is France’s foremost experimental territory for the new economy, simultaneously efficient and solidarity-oriented.

Many entities, focused on personal well-being, quality care-giving or the fight against social exclusion, have long been operating profitably within the Paris Region.

For instance, French models which consist in promoting social integration through business activity are particularly effective. Those businesses are involved in a competitive market, as they train and hire former jobless workers so as to provide them with a means of re-entering the standard job market. For instance, the SOS Group, France’s first social enterprise located in the Paris Region, currently manages a cluster of 12 social integration enterprises in a variety of sectors ranging from catering to events management or communication. With $35m in total revenue, every year those businesses guide over 300 people through the integration process. The positions involved offer people without work a course and a two-year career, as well as social support, in order to help them secure sustainable employment. Over 85% of those going through the integration process find a job upon completion of their round inside those social integration enterprises. In addition to the social impact, for every euro invested in a social integration enterprise, the return on investment to the community is €4!

“The Paris Region can bring a lot to the development of social economy and social enterprises around the world. We have been very innovative and very creative in inventing and developing new business models that are able to target the major social issues that we are facing and which exists all around the world” agrees Nicolas Hazard, Chairman of CALSO, an American company intent on replicating France’s social entrepreneurship models in the United States.

Moreover, the Paris Region is also renowned for its innovative schemes and infrastructures devoted to social entrepreneurship. In addition to its numerous existing impact investment funds, the Paris Region also develops a large amount of business incubators and boosters intended for social entrepreneurs. Developed by Comptoir de l’Innovation, the Social Good Lab is a prime example of those: this incubator provides guidance to high-potential entrepreneurs who are developing technologically innovative products and services meant to resolve social issues. This scheme has successfully created bridges between the technological innovation and the social entrepreneurship ecosystems.

Know-how that is in tune with California’s entrepreneurial spirit

Convinced that there is potential for entrepreneurial and innovative approaches in the United States, CALSO has settled in California to replicate social integration models that were successfully developed in France. Those enterprise models, with their substantial social impact and good business performance, will complete efforts being made by existing entities, long funded by philanthropic sources in the U.S.

“We have found here great people with a great mindset! We are now developing high-potential social enterprises with them. I strongly believe California is the land of innovation that will allow us to magnify social impact and to contribute to social change in the long run”, asserts Nicolas Hazard.

The incubator model that combines social impact and new technology is also of particular interest to American partners, especially in Silicon Valley, where technological innovation is a must, but where it has a poor track record in serving the public interest or the underprivileged!

More information: two conferences at SOCAP 2014

SOCAP14 is an international conference dealing with impact investing and social entrepreneurship issues, taking place in San Francisco from September 2 to 5, 2014. CALSO will hold two major conferences at the event, featuring experts in the sector like Carla Javitz, Executive Director at REDF (an American organisation investing in social enterprises in the social integration sector), CALSO Chairman Nicolas Hazard, and Neal Baer, who was Executive Producer for TV series like ER and Under the Dome but is also an American social entrepreneur.

– Creating a Market that Values Health and Wellbeing (September 3, 2014)

Co-organiser: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

– New Theorem: Money + Job Inclusion = Better Health (September 5, 2014)

Co-organiser: SOCAP14


Paris Region Entreprises provides support towards the international growth of businesses from and into the Paris Region. Paris Region Entreprises makes use of its branches in the United States, China and Israel to facilitate the local establishment and growth of French and Paris Region businesses.

For further information: YouTube: ParisRegionChannel
Contact : Aude Colonna – +33(0)1 75 62 59 27 –

CALSO is a Californian non-profit organization, replicating successful French social enterprise models in the U.S. CALSO’s mission is to strengthen communities by empowering individuals to reach their full potential. We aim at building an inclusive society where all people have the opportunity to reach their full potential by developing a comprehensive approach towards poverty. Indeed, we know from experience that each exclusion situation is a mix of several unresolved issues (health, housing, environmental, psychological, etc.) and believe it is important to develop integrated and holistic solutions. CALSO is also 100% committed to social innovation. We are catalysing innovative approaches to address old, stubborn challenges in California and beyond. We are constantly working on adapting our services to new or unaddressed social needs, and on formulating innovative solutions to give everyone a second chance.

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