The social and solidarity economy, a job lung in the suburbs

In Romainville, in Seine-Saint-Denis, Baluchon, a caterer in an integration process, is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The solidarity company is doing well with its prestigious clients, ministries and large companies, and its 110 employees. More than half of them are there for a maximum of twenty-four months in order to learn or relearn the trades of catering, handling or logistics.

“The food industry remains a dynamic sector conducive to integration into the job market”, evokes Louise Fourquet, CEO of Baluchon. She succeeded François Dechy, the founder, when he was elected mayor of Romainville. “And we had the intuition that we could seek customers in the well-to-do neighborhoods of Île-de-France to create new jobs in the working-class neighborhoods. And that’s what happened! CAC 40 companies have played the game, and all the people employed by Baluchon live in the department. »

In the suburbs, a quarter of jobs come from the SSE

Like Baluchon, many companies in the social and solidarity economy (SSE) set up where other private companies no longer go and where public services have deserted. They bring activity and jobs to the suburbs and peri-urban areas. ESS France, which represents the big families of the ESS, has just published an inventory of the sector in the neighborhoods of city policy (QPV). We read that a quarter of private jobs in these suburbs come from associations, integration companies and cooperatives that have settled there, while they represent less than 10% of total employment in France.

Baluchon is a textbook case. When it was created, it was first seven inhabitants of Romainville who opened the doors of the former central kitchen as employees on integration, then twenty, fifty and a hundred, as development progressed, with a diversification in the delivery of meal trays and direct services in company canteens. In the heart of Romainville, the district has taken on new life as urban renewal takes its toll.

“We help our employees find accommodation”

Like all integration companies, Baluchon has two jobs: selling products and services, but also integrating people from the neighborhoods. “In terms of employment, we have strengthened social support, completes Louise Fourquet. We help our employees find accommodation and take care of their health. But they must also be very professional in their trade, because our turnover depends on them in the face of competition from any caterer. »

Despite the difficult parenthesis of the pandemic, Baluchon continues to hold the two ends of his mission. On the social side, seven out of ten people find a job or training upon leaving the company; this figure had even risen to nine out of ten before the Covid. On the economic side, the company welcomed new impact investors this year to pursue its development.

Microloans to help entrepreneurs get started

Baluchon has been trying to stimulate employment in the neighborhoods beyond Romainville for three years now. The company first participated in other integration projects in the department, in Montreuil, and in Lille in Hauts-de-France. But above all, it has created an incubator of social enterprises within it.

“Our idea is to unconditionally welcome all project leaders from working-class neighborhoods, emphasizes Bao-Anh Bui, incubator project manager. They follow a one-year program to start their business. They can use the experience we acquired at Baluchon and even test their products in our kitchen, between our production times. » Several dozen projects have already been supported by the incubator and its partners, public and associative, some going as far as financing. A quarter of the companies already helped have received funding from the Association for the right to economic initiative (Adie).

For more than thirty years, entrepreneurship in working-class neighborhoods has been in Adie’s DNA. Today, one in four entrepreneurs financed by this association comes from a priority district. Last year, ADIE granted 25,000 microloans for an amount between €3,000 and €10,000.

Very often in fact, the inhabitants of the neighborhoods – women and men in equal proportions – are themselves at the origin of these SSE enterprises, which contribute to social cohesion. Failing to be recruited as employees despite their diplomas, sometimes multiple, they thus create their own jobs, alone or with the help of specialized networks: Adie, France active, Positive Planet, Réseau entrepreneur.

The language barrier

To support entrepreneurship in working-class neighborhoods, the Adie antenna is often set up at the foot of a building. Like in Reims, in the Croix-Rouge district. “When Maria Nowak created Adie, she was convinced that there was energy and entrepreneurial potential in the neighbourhoods”, assures Angèle Mignonac, head of Adie for the Grand Est. “But we also noticed that entrepreneurs had no capital and that access to banks was complicated. Adie offers them microloans guaranteed by their entourage and backed by banks. »

Over the years, support has been strengthened to enable these small businesses to survive over time, with the “I become an entrepreneur” program. “Neighbourhood entrepreneurs do not need different support from others, specifies Angèle Mignonac. Only the language barrier can be a hindrance for newcomers. But more often than not, they come to us with their own market research and their first clients. »

“I couldn’t find a bank”

A composite portrait that corresponds exactly to Nadette Poné, a mother of three children who opened the Nade Nails nail salon four years ago, in another district of Reims, Maison-Blanche. Arrived from Cameroon ten years ago, and after working three-eight in a factory, she chose to pursue her dream by creating her own business, training as a prosthetist in support.

“I discovered Adie on the Internet because I couldn’t find a bank, she says. I was able to get a loan of €5,000 to fit out my first premises. As the business grew, I was able to repay that loan. Just got a second one for $3500 to buy some new hardware. »

And the young designer, who works six days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., has enabled a neighbor to start a personal service activity thanks to a loan from Adie for which she is the guarantor. In the districts, the inhabitants make the solidarity economy more and more visible.

Source : BBN NEWS

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