Since 2002, the ENGIE Group has been collaborating with the PlaNet Finance organization with a view to sharing in the development of small-scale entrepreneurial initiatives both in French sensitive neighborhoods and internationally.
PlaNet Finance, a major player in microcredit
PlaNet Finance is an international solidarity organization whose mission is to combat poverty by developing microfinance. Its challenges: to improve access to financial services by poor populations who are usually excluded from them. Based in Paris, PlaNet Finance and its international network are active in 80 countries. PlaNet Finance is an essential player in the struggle against poverty. For example:
- more than 200 microfinance institutions (MFIs) supported every year,
- nearly 500 assessments of microfinance institutions in 75 countries,
- 166 million euros lent to 77 microfinance institutions,
- 55,000 customers served by six MicroCred institutions, subsidiaries of PlaNet Finance,
- more than 188,000 micro-entrepreneurs insured by PlaNet Guarantee.
Its goals are:
- to encourage the development of micro-companies that are more environmentally aware,
- to increase the awareness and involvement of microfinance institutions.
Some achievements in France:
- 400 companies and 520 jobs created by “Entreprendre en Banlieue” [Setting up Businesses in the Suburbs],
- 43 VSEs (very small enterprises) supported by FinanCités through capital investment.
Alongside PlaNet Finance, ENGIE has been helping to reduce poverty with environmentally sound programs since 2002.
The various projects of PlaNet Finance
In 2011, ENGIE was a partner in three of PlaNet Finance’s programs and is a partner in one project now being developed:
- the “Microfinance & Energy” program,
- the “Entreprendre en Banlieue” program,
- the company “FinanCités”,
- the “MicroWorld” platform project.
Microfinance & Energy: promoting the international development of renewable energy
Developed by PlaNet Finance Advisory Services, this program is designed to support the development of renewable energy sources and access to them by groups of vulnerable populations in urban and rural areas. Since 2002, the partnership between ENGIE and PlaNet Finance has enabled micro-entrepreneurs in two big emerging countries to be supported: Brazil and China.
Since 2010, this program concerned projects of micro-entrepreneurs in Morocco and Egypt. The Group supports those two countries in developing financial models to promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. The projects help improve the living conditions of the inhabitants by encouraging access to energy equipment through microcredit.
“Entreprendre en banlieue” [suburban entrepreneurs]: the strength of an admirable example
This program was set up in 2006 and aims to make unemployed adults from the Sensitive Urban Zones (ZUS) more aware of entrepreneurship through the creation of ADAM (Association de Détection et d’Accompagnement de micro-entrepreneurs) [Association for the Detection and Support of Micro-Entrepreneurs] in those neighborhoods. This network of associations detects future micro-entrepreneurs, supports them in the process of setting up their businesses and guides them in their search for financing by putting them in touch with local microcredit operators (banks or microfinance institutions).
Pro-active, local and based on exemplary behavior, ADAM’s teams seek out potential micro-entrepreneurs where they are actually located through communicative actions appropriate to their neighborhoods. ADAM’s teams have in-depth knowledge of those neighborhoods and of the people who live in them. Lastly, their action is based on exemplary behavior: ADAM is managed by successful entrepreneurs from those same neighborhoods. The example of their career paths and their successes is a powerful driving force for supporting the target audience in the creation of VSEs.
Through its commitment to PlaNet Finance France since 2006, ENGIE facilitated the creation of 344 companies and generated 457 jobs.
FinanCités: a salutary finishing touch for the development of very small companies
FinanCités is a jointly-owned venture capital company whose mission is to support very small companies in the neighborhoods by providing them with additional financing at key moments in their development.
By providing financial assistance to developing very small companies (VSEs), FinanCités contributes to the growth and durability of the small companies of the neighborhoods, assists job creation, energizes the local economy and improves living conditions in those neighborhoods.
Financing arrangements are aimed at very small companies that have been in business for at least a year and are situated in deprived neighborhoods or are managed by entrepreneurs from those neighborhoods. There are in fact very few forms of aid concerning the post-creation and development of a company and it is mainly the difficulty of obtaining traditional bank credit, which prevents very small companies from developing and continuing to operate. That is especially true in neighborhoods where businesspeople are often unable to supply sufficient guarantees to obtain a loan from a bank. FinanCités therefore provides them with additional financing to help them develop their company. The investment is made in the form of taking a minority share in the company’s capital (between 5,000 and 100,000 euros), without asking for any guarantee. Each entrepreneur is assisted by an experienced voluntary coach who supports and advises him or her throughout the duration of the investment (five years on average).
FinanCités has already enabled 36 businesspeople to develop their business and make it durable, for a total investment of over 1.8 million euros (figures at April 2010).
MicroWorld, joint microcredit via the Internet
MicroWorld’s goal is to develop the financing of micro-entrepreneurs all over the world in the form of loans via the Internet. Microcredit and microfinance have shown that, with small but well-targeted resources, a lasting change can be brought about that will be beneficial to all.
MicroWorld’s joint European microcredit platform means reconciling joint development and the market economy. Launched in June 2011, the platform allows employees of ENGIE to lend money to businesspeople in developing countries to enable them to finance their micro-companies, relying on the expertise and the network of favored partners of PlaNet Finance.
Each employee can individually choose the project to be financed in the form of a 0% loan repayable after 6 to 18 months.