Emmaüs Défi was founded in 2007 to help the unemployed get back into the workforce. On the occasion of the first anniversary of Bric-à-Brac (second-hand shop) in the 19th Arrondissement of Paris, the Foundation, which has been a partner since 2010, went to talk to the organisation's director, Charles-Edouard Vincent.
Societe Generale Foundation: Can you tell us what role the organisation plays to fight poverty in France?
Charles-Edouard Vincent: Emmaüs Défi strives to help people who are very much on the fringes of society get back onto the labour market. With hourly-paid work scheme that we invented in 2009 and the new Convergence programme, we can take on people who would otherwise be completely excluded from the world of work. Today, we are able to offer them a full support package in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders: housing, health and employment. Recruitment is not selective and the programmes are tailored to the employees' needs, both in terms of the job itself and the working hours. We try to respond creatively to build a path for each person to find a sustainable solution for social inclusion and thus fight poverty inFrance.
SGF: Emmaüs Défi’s Bric-à-Brac was inaugurated last year and we were there with you. One year on, what are the results for Emmaüs Défi and its employees?
CEV: 1 year on, the results are very positive. We have become a major player in reemployment inParis. More than 5,000 people come to the Bric-à-Brac on Rue Riquet every Saturday and we have hired more than 110 jobseekers. However, we must absolutely expand our collection activities in order to develop our sales thus creating more jobs.
SGF: what are your plans for the coming year?
CEV: In terms of our social initiatives, we want to expand our activities with the various players involved in order to build on the Convergence programme. As for our own activities, we have a lot of plans for the coming year. Our objective is to intensify collections inParis to make it possible for every Parisian to contribute near to where they live (mobile collections, market stalls, drop-off points...). We want to develop innovative ways of responding to the demands of Parisians: easy, quick and effective. Emmaüs Défi also wants to occupy more space on the web and other modern media (smartphone applications, geolocation…). This year will see a wealth of innovations!
The opening of the new shop was also an opportunity to involve Societe Generale employees. From July to December 2012, 10 of them gave their time to introduce IT to the organisation’s employees who benefit the professional integration programme.
According to Marie-Claude, a Societe Generale employee, it was a way of showing “that bankers can be open-minded and altruistic people”. As for the people receiving the assistance, the experience has also proven to be very enriching, whatever their initial IT skill level. Karima confided in us, “I realised that you can write with a computer. It’s useful for letters and CVs”. Serge confirmed, “It’s good because it makes you use your brain! I knew a bit about Excel and that helped me learn more. Next time, if I can, I'd be interested in Word. I was meant to do it with Marie, but we were interrupted by a fire alarm”.