“Rassembleurs d’Énergies gives the Group a way to have a very solid and active presence in the world of the social and solidarity economy”
Anne Chassagnette is Group Head of Environmental and Social Responsibility at ENGIE, and Vice-Chair of the Rassembleurs d’Énergies fund. She answers our questions on the criteria applied when choosing projects to support and about how the dedicated team works.
What do you see as the challenges for this Committee?
There are five challenges. The first is environmental performance, which we can measure by CO2 emissions avoided, for example, followed by company employment performance, which is measured primarily in terms of direct and/or indirect jobs created by the business. Rassembleurs d’Energies defines itself as first and foremost an impact investing fund. Financial performance is also important in the sense that, unlike corporate sponsorship or donations, we invest in social enterprises with a predefined exit point. So once the company’s business is fully developed and has a long-term future, we can withdraw and reinvest in other companies to multiply our impact. The next challenge is the relevance of the energy solution, which must be suitable for the needs of the communities concerned and its context of deployment. Lastly, there are the potential synergies with Group entities, which allow us to optimize the costs involved in appraising projects and monitoring our investment. That’s why we invest in regions where we have an operating presence or have a longer term interest going forward. We’re also very pleased to see that these projects effectively strengthen internal cohesion and make us think about our own business models.
How can only five people successfully manage and monitor all these issues?
We involve all the internal skills required for each project by putting together teams with employees from the Group’s operational and functional departments. So we frequently work with CRIGEN (the Gas and New Energies Research and Innovation Center), whose teams help us to evaluate technical solutions developed by in-house specialists, and with staff from ENGIE’s operational business units for whom these missions provide the opportunity to get to grips with innovative and promising solutions designed for a market segment that is also served by the Group. We always work in project mode, from the earliest stages of consideration onwards. The employees involved at the outset remain responsible for the project proposal right through to its submission to the investment committee. Some may also serve on governance bodies.
So how would you define Rassembleurs d’Énergies today, four years after its launch?
In addition to being a corporate impact investing fund, Rassembleurs d’Energies has now become a laboratory and suggestions box for the entire Group. It effectively asks us questions about alternative business models. It gives the Group a way to have very solid and active presence in the world of the social and solidarity economy. We want to expand our presence in this area, firstly by giving more Group employees the opportunity to invest their savings meaningfully, and secondly by widening the network of Rassembleurs d’Energies Fellows who give their practical commitment to our projects and act as ambassadors within their own Group entities. And we are, of course, open to considering projects that may be submitted directly to us online.