COP 27: we must act now!

The situation is urgent. We see it every day at Groupe SOS through our actions to accelerate the ecological transition and with the most vulnerable people. In a worrying inflationary context, we need to respond to needs we concretely see every day, in France, and in the 40 countries in which we operate. The scientific, associative, and militant voices, as well as the youth, are alerting us to adopt effective decisions so that we collectively build the solutions of tomorrow. They exist, they work and we need to deploy them.

At Groupe SOS we believe in a systemic logic, with the conviction that the ecological, social, and economic impact becomes the compass of any organization (profit-making or not) to preserve the planet and its inhabitants. We consider socio-economic realities to the extent of the climate emergency because this fight cannot be done at the expense of the population. In Europe, associations and companies are committed to achieving neutrality while helping to build an exemplary and exportable regenerative economy. The path to a more virtuous model, economically viable, socially just, and ecologically respectful, certainly requires a strong commitment from everyone, but for the benefit of a desirable horizon.

We expect COP27 to serve the fight against climate change, not to be a climate compromise. Nothing can be settled at the local level without a structuring international solidarity, capable of financing concrete actions for the climate.

 

Groupe SOS advocates for 3 LEVERS of action

  1. Ecology as a lever for inclusion
  2. A globally shared green taxonomy
  3. Localization of global solutions

Groupe SOS at COP27

  • Agriculture and food will have a prominent place at COP27. With its experience in the field, Groupe SOS supports several convictions and priority actions for agriculture and food.
  • Groupe SOS is present on the African continent with teams from 5 NGOs and 2 consulting and research firms in 15 countries. 
  • Marie-Christina Kolo, Regional Director for the Indian Ocean of People Power Inclusion (PPI), an association of Groupe SOS, will be the ambassador of Groupe SOS at COP 27.

Discover all the actions and proposals of Groupe SOS related to COP27: Groupe SOS at COP27—ENG

Ateliere Fara Frontiere: supporting the work integration of people fleeing Ukraine to Romania

Since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, the need for aid is now greater than ever. If the initial needs of the refugees from Ukraine arriving in Romania were related to housing and food, they now need a job to ensure their daily living. At the end of August, more than 55,000 refugees were registered in Romania trying to resume their lives in the country.

Ateliere Fără Frontiere (AFF), an association of Groupe SOS, has been among the first organizations that have opened its doors for the employment of refugees from Ukraine since March. At first, AFF provided a  dozen refugees with employment services through its workshops, counseling sessions, and vocational guidance, but also information and mediation services on the labor market. 

Since August 2022, in order to continue this mission and to bring help to even more refugees, AFF has started the project “Support to the self-reliance of vulnerable refugees from Ukraine” supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), that aims to enable the self-support and integration of people from Ukraine alongside vulnerable host population in Romania.  

The project consists in helping the Ukrainian refugees to find stability by guiding them in their process of entering the Romanian job market through counseling and integration. AFF also took it upon to help them in finding other needed tools and services such as: 

  • free Romanian language courses,  
  • legal assistance, 
  • knowing how to obtain healthcare,
  • housing,  
  • childcare,  
  • where to find out about community events  
  • etc.  

Therefore, in its first 6-month pilot phase, the project aims to support 75 Ukrainian refugees in finding the right job opportunities for them, while supporting their families. 

Every aspect of the project will be documented and based on statistical evidence in order to test and scale up the successes for a follow-up phase after the 6-month pilot. A good practice guide for social enterprises working in the job integration sector is to be developed for advocacy purposes, both targeting political will and legislative actions for easing the career pathways of marginalized and excluded people in Romania. 


 UNHCR, is the United Nations organization for refugees that leads various international actions to protect those who are forced to flee their home countries, mostly affected by conflicts and wars. Therefore, the UNHCR’s mission is to offer the main basic necessities to people such as clean and warm shelters, food, and water as well as to ensure refugees’ fundamental human rights and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future.  


AFF is a non-profit, Romanian organization, affiliated with Groupe SOS. Founded in 2008, AFF’s mission is to support the most marginalized and excluded groups of people. AFF creates workshops and programs to integrate these people into the job market, and offers social and professional support, guidance, and hope to all.   


The UNHCR / AFF partnership is complementary in ensuring a medium to long-term integration of vulnerable populations in Romania, starting with current refugees fleeing Ukraine. Whether Ukrainian will want to stay in Romania or will be able to go back to their home country; the project’s mission is to support them in their journey by listening to their needs and trusting their skills and projects.  

Making Europe the world epicenter of the SSE.

We, actors of the social and solidarity economy (SSE) in Europe, call for an ambitious European policy aiming at making Europe the world epicenter of the SSE. 

The challenges facing Europe today – be they political, geopolitical, economic, ecological or social – oblige us to rethink our economy in favor of a system that is more respectful of people and nature.

The European Union cannot tolerate 72 million people living below the poverty line and 15% of young people aged 15 to 29 without job nor training. These are alarming numbers, aggravated by the cumulative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis. These figures also contrast with record-breaking economic growth.

Economic performance and common good can no longer be opposed. They meet in the social and solidarity economy, which is composed of social enterprises, cooperatives, associations (including charities) and foundations. They all maximize their social and environmental impact rather than their financial profit.

The social economy, the future of Europe

The SSE is the future of Europe; it’s also its roots. As early as 1957, the Treaty of Rome mentions « economic and social progress » as an objective. In 2007, the Treaty of Lisbon made the « social market economy » a reference combining economic prosperity, social justice and environmental protection. This triptych is also at the heart of the Green Pact for Europe of 2020, as well as the Action Plan for the Social Economy of 2021. We salute the acceleration of this movement.

The social economy already represents more than 13 million employees across Europe, spread over nearly 3 million structures. It accounts for 25% of the continent’s new business creations. This is just the beginning, and the world is watching. Our European SSE genius inspires major international organizations. The SSE is on the agenda of the 110th session of the International Labour Conference, as well as on the agenda of the UN, which is already preparing a resolution for worldwide recognition of the SSE.

Based on our experience in the field and the expertise we have acquired over the years, we are proposing three levers of action to amplify this dynamic.

  1. Recognizing the social and solidarity economy in national, European and international law

The development of the social economy is currently slowed down by the absence of a clearly defined European legal framework. National legislations are heterogeneous, and sometimes non-existent. It is urgent to recognize the specificity of SSE organizations at the European level in order to encourage their financing and their internationalization. The leadership of the EU must also be strengthened at the global level. This is why EU Member-States must stand together behind the project of the UN resolution of recognition of SSE.

We also need to define common tools and standards for measuring social and environmental impact – the same way that we share accounting and financial standards which, for the moment, are only oriented towards financial performance.

  1. Strengthening financing tools dedicated to SSE organizations

Existing financing tools do not always match the specificities of SSE organizations. It is harder for them to get access to equity and loans. As for projects financed by European funds, they require significant administrative resources, with long delays.

We advocate for a strong development of capital and debt funding tools dedicated to social innovation, for example by allocating a part of employee savings funds. Access to these funds should be open to early-stage startups, and to all types of organizations, including associations and cooperatives. It is also necessary to simplify the application processes for European funds, so that small structures can apply.

  1. Generalizing work-integration programs in the 27 countries of the EU

Work Integration Social Enterprises give both a salary and a training to people who are far from the labour market. They rely on public funding covering a part of the employment costs, with significant leverage effects: they unlock self-confidence in finding a job, they fight unemployment, they help reduce informal economy, territorial fractures and inequalities. Yet this type of public support is absent from many European countries.

We ask for a strong political will at the European level, to encourage all Member-States to adopt ambitious policies of inclusion through employment, in particular through the local financing of work-integration programs dedicated to the most vulnerable people.

The social economy, the economy of peace

SSE is an economy of peace, redistribution of wealth and inclusion of all social and environmental impacts. It has the potential to make Europe the greatest social and ecological economic power. This is why we, European actors of the SSE, call on our European leaders to seize our proposals to make Europe the world epicenter of the social and solidarity economy.

Signed by 33 Social and Solidarity Economy players from 16 European countries:

Belgium: EVPA, Bantani Education, Pour la Solidarité

Croatia: Uni. of Zagreb’s Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology

Denmark: Sociale Entreprenører i Danmark

Estonia: Sotsiaalsete Ettevõtete Võrgustik (Social Enterprise Estonia)

France: Groupe SOS, FAIR, Impact Tank, Pulse, Impact Business Angels

Germany: Pleistocene&Permafrost Foundation, Uni. Heidelberg Germany and Cancer research center, Higher Order Strategy, Cabinet Collective, Broadcast.org Media Foundation

Ireland: The Wheel

Italy: Venezia Autentica and Overtourism Solution

Latvia: Latvijas Sociālās uzņēmējdarbības asociācija

Netherlands: Catalyst2030, Designathon Works, Circular investment

Northern Ireland: Alison

Portugal: i3L – Social Impact Investments, Girl Move Academy, Action for Systemic Impact

Romania: Ateliere Fără Frontiere

Slovenia: Foundation BiT Planota

Spain: Grupo5, Efecto Colibri, Uni. Pontificia Comillas, ICI Network

Sweden: Forum for Social Innovation Sweden

For more information please consult the Euractiv website.

HOW CAN A MICRO-ENTREPRENEUR BECOME A SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR?

The Story of a Social Entrepreneur

Ahmed Aiyoun is a young man from Minia, Egypt, who benefited from PPI- People Power Inclusion‘s expertise in supporting entrepreneurship. SAGE – Sustainable Accelerated Growth in Egypt is a European Union funded program managed and operated by a joint venture between CEOSS – Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services and PPI.

Ahmed Aiyoun decided to become self-employed through an innovative idea. He built a micro-coffee shop on an old bicycle that offers almost all kinds of coffee in addition to other drinks manually. The bicycle had a tank for water that is filled every day before moving to Taha Hussein, the commercial, strategic street where he reaches potential customers.

He branded also the idea with his name Aiyoun, which means (Eyes) and the logo is an eye, with a coffee bean iris. The coffee and other drinks are unique as Aiyoun customizes each coffee cup to include the name of the customer. He started to sell to most of the shops in the area and pedestrians who became frequent customers marketed by Ahmed’s smile and his natural welcoming.

 

And the story did not end here.

The micro-business has grown not only in terms of revenues but also Ayioun’s happiness and pride. Ahmed is now running his new project, a tricycle with modernized equipment to enhance the quantity and quality of hot and cold drinks.

Ahmed’s idea created new job opportunities as he rented his old bicycle and still thinking of replicating several bicycles-coffee-on-the-move ready to produce a wide range of drinks through sharing the business model with a social contract to run an innovative micro-franchising, promoting social entrepreneurship in Minia and other governorates.

Moreover, Ahmed is working on franchising his micro-business to other potential entrepreneurs, promoting social entrepreneurship. This is where PPI’s support has a multiplier effect: from supporting one micro-entrepreneur to enabling large-scale job creation.

 


« To succeed, the objectives are more important than the ideas », additionally exchange of experiences and best practices » – Ahmed Aiyoun


 

Ahmed Aiyoun is not the only entrepreneur to know such a success thanks to SAGE project since it supports a wider range of innovative social entrepreneurs and businesses.

The program aims at improving the quality of life through various Business Development Services, including micro franchise models, an e-learning platform/mobile app and vouchers system to support 60 micro-social enterprises, through training, workshops, field visits and capacity building of 12 NGOs operating in the targeted governorates of Beni-Suef, Minia and Sohag. The program also enhances the employability of 1000 unemployed youth, with a focus on women through administrative and vocational training.

« This is not all, we have visible beneficiaries, like Ahmed, but we also have two types of invisible beneficiaries to maximize our social impact: the 12 NGOs that we train in the field, and the future entrepreneurs that will benefit from the micro-franchises we contribute to set up.” – Haidi Tariq

ACTA VISTA: combining professional inclusion to the restoration of endangered historical heritage

ACTA VISTA: combining professional inclusion to the restoration of endangered historical heritage

Founded in 2002 in the French city of Marseille, ACTA VISTA is a non-profit organisation specialised in professional inclusion through the preservation of endangered historical heritage sites. ACTA VISTA supports people who have difficulty entering the labour market, by training them in the preservation and restoration of historical monuments.

HERO – Heritage Ecological Renovation for inclusion Opportunities – is a three-year Erasmus+ project led by ACTA VISTA in partnership with five organizations from four EU Member States: Pour la Solidarité (Belgium), Dragodid (Croatia), Boulouki (Greece), BAO Formation (France).

 

Ensuring the future by taking care of the past: environmental preservation at the heart of the HERO project

The Erasmus+ HERO project combines heritage preservation and the safeguarding of the environment by training unemployed people to perform renovation in a responsible manner (energy saving renovation, waste management, reuse of rubble, etc.). By doing so, HERO contributes to the emergence of a generation of construction workers who have embedded the safeguard of the environment within their renovation practices. 

 

Project’s deliverables

This cooperation has led to the creation of a number of deliverables:

  • a booklet analysing existing training practices in Europe, combining training and heritage renovation;
  • a pedagogical toolbox on the adaptation of trainers’ pedagogy to vulnerable unemployed people; based on learning by doing, considering the restoration of endangered historical heritage as a lever for professional inclusion;
  • a pedagogical toolkit on environmentally friendly renovation practices,  emphasizing the link between culture and nature;
  • a white paper shared with policy makers at local, regional and European level to raise awareness on the topic of professional inclusion through the renovation of historical heritage.

Zoom on : Nthakoana Maema, program manager at ORIBI in cape town

Today we have the chance to chat with Nthakoana, Program manager at ORIBI, to get to know more about her job and ORIBI’s #FoodSystemProgram.  

ORIBI is an impact incubator founded in 2018 and based in Cape Town. It is part of the PULSE network (Groupe SOS) supporting impact entrepreneurship in Europe and Africa. It provides programs for skills development, training and support of entrepreneurs. Marginalized under-resourced communities residing in townships including youth and women, are particularly targeted by the incubation programs. 

Discover how the #FoodSystemProgram acts towards an ecological and solidarity transition by addressing both food security and social issues ! 

 

  • Can you describe your work and your position at ORIBI ?  

I have been working in the development sector for 17 years, I’ve focused on the youth developing and raising quality of life through social innovation and entrepreneurship as a positive lever for change. My goal is to enable the creation of sustainable enterprises that address social and ecological issues as interconnected issues in the African context, while actively fighting against high inequalities and increasing poverty. 

I joined ORIBI in 2020 as the Programs Manager and I am also currently studying sustainable development. At ORIBI we recently launched the #GirlsInBusiness program for women in entrepreneurship and I am also in charge of the #FoodSystem program.  

 

  • What are your personal motivations for doing this work ? 

I am dedicated to the work of justice and the work of equity. I am in a position where I have had a good education compared to other girls we accompanied and thus, I have always seen it as my vocation to transfer this knowledge to people who don’t necessarily have access to quality education, resources, a good network, and social capital. I am inspired each day that I get the privilege to participate in other people’s transformation journeys.  

With justice, I strongly believe in a better quality of life for all and for all life meaning people as much as our environment, and all other forms of life. It’s something that urges me to wake up every day to solve and find opportunities, explore innovative ways of being able to create that, and rewire the world in a different way.  

I don’t know if it’s conditioning because my dad was an environmental scientist, my mom was an economist and my grandmother was a huge gender activist: through their experiences, I have learnt a lot, and been exposed to a different way of seeing the world, and not being part of the solution to our complex crises would not make sense.  

 

  • Can you describe more precisely your Food System program in South Africa, and how ORIBI is fighting food insecurity ? 

The #FoodSystem program was initiated because we realized that although South Africa is food secure at a national level, there are millions of people who still port being hungry on a regular basis, so even though there’s enough food produced to feed the country, there are individuals and households who are still food insecure. This signals that the issue is the problem of access.

We started to figure out and explore what is creating this problem of access. We know that while corporate and industrialisation have done a lot to provide physical access to food, at the same time, the way that the business model is designed excludes people and food has become a commodity. This makes it difficult for small-scale actors, such as farmers, to enter these complex value chains. And if you can’t really afford food, especially in low-income communities where people are faced with high rates of unemployment, and loss of livelihoods, a whole population can go hungry. In South Africa there is a high unemployment rate: 35.3% for general population, and 66.5% for the youth.  Almost 57% of the country is living under 992 rand per month (less than 60 €) and it is a real obstacle to food security. 

 

There are lots of inequalities. For example, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Report on Food Systems of South Africa, highlighted that 20% of farms hold 80% of the formal market. It results in hundreds of thousands of subsistent farmers who struggle to access the market and it is difficult for them to enter this very complex corporate value chain that delivers food fast and at a low cost. Moreover, there is a high rate of highly processed foods in low-income communities that are creating a lot of issues: high obesity numbers, and increasing non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, and at the same time there are high malnutrition rates and stunting for children. 

Thus, we realized that there was an opportunity to engage social innovation and impact entrepreneurship to address the complex issue of food insecurity. We know that the food system contributes to almost 34% to climate change, the current system while highly productive, has done so at the cost of environmental and social equity. So, when we talk about climate change, we have to centre the food system and have tough conversation and courageous actions for transformative change… The food system is a great entry point to address social, economic and environmental aspects of society. Also, we chose the frame of impact entrepreneurship because it is a business model that is trying to address social and environmental issues through a financially thriving model.  

Our food security program at ORIBI gathers 30 entrepreneurs trying to tackle any problem that belongs to the whole food value chain, from farm-to-plate, here are a few examples of the innovative projects developed by our entrepreneurs:

  • Order Kasi, a logistics startup to tackle the issue of forwarding food to hard-to-reach communities 
  • Foodprint, a blockchain-enabled platform to improve small-scale farmers or sustainable producers efficiency, as well create access to markets 
  • Fresh Life Produce, developed an energy-efficient vegetable grower system, the African Grower, suitable for dense township communities, where people have limited space or lack of ownership of land, to start their own urban gardens 
  • Living Soil, an academy training women from poorly resourced communities on agroecological farming, and how to run the farms 
  • Food Flow, a food rescue project that started during the Covid19 lockdown,to redivert small-scale farmer produce to low-income communities, as they lost their usual markets such as restaurants. 

 

ORIBI’s impact is to create an inclusive economy that is driven by impact entrepreneurs who are willing to disrupt systems for positive social and environmental impact. We believe that building sustainable food value chains is where the next turn for social change will come from. Our ultimate goal is to strengthen entrepreneurial mindset, economic inclusion, and self-confidence of food system innovators, especially youth and women entrepreneurs from rural and urban townships. 

 

Food security and responsible agriculture are part of the main issues addressed by Groupe SOS facing the current environmental and social emergencies. It is very enlightening to see how social entrepreneurs manage to deal with these issues in the specific context of the living conditions in Cape Town’s townships. This news from the other side of the world is very promising and makes us want to strengthen our efforts, get into action with us ! 

Discover how Groupe SOS combines ecology and solidarity!

Off to Romania, in Ciocănari village, Dâmbovița county, where Ateliere Fără Frontiere, a Groupe SOS association, cultivates care for the environment and people in promoting urban agriculture and local production of healthy, responsibly grown food.  

“The happiest vegetables grow on our farm” – says the horticultural engineer of the farm. 

 

Bio&co, one of the three socio-professional insertion workshops of the Romanian NGO Ateliere Fără Frontiere, is a successful circular economy project launched in 2015. It is a certified organic farm that has its 1000m2 composting platform for food and organic waste collected from the farm, but also restaurants, hotels and supermarkets. The farm sells certified organic vegetables, harvests responsibly and distributes its products in a short, direct circuit to subscribers, in weekly baskets, as the first step towards a healthier lifestyle for the people of the nearby community.  

 2021 accomplishments at bio&co:

  • 4,507 baskets of vegetables sold 
  • 100 varieties of vegetables 
  • An average of 90 weekly subscribers 
  • 4000 sqm solarium
  • 3.23 ha of certified organic land 
  • 17 beehives 

With this workshop, Ateliere Fără Frontiere is promoting social integration and employment of vulnerable people, responsible waste management and environmental protection, solidarity and responsibility for sustainable development:  

“We respect the Earth and nature. We respect people in vulnerable communities and we are here to help them. […] Together with 10 people from the community we work hard every day, and we are very careful that the vegetables we plant grow harmoniously and healthy.

Back in France now with Amadou Traoré, one of Fermes d’Avenir’s agroecological market gardening programme fellow on Nathalie Cerclé’s farm in Auvergne.   

→ What is agroecology?  

“At Fermes d’Avenir, we understand « agroecological » as any model of farm or territorial food system that makes possible to respond to social, economic and environmental challenges related to food and agriculture.”  

Groupe SOS association Fermes d’Avenir supports the development of agroecology throughout France. Fermes d’Avenir acts in favour of the ecological and social transition of French agriculture made of more sustainable and environment-friendly practices. When Amadou, flee from Ivory Coast and arrived in France in 2018, he followed a fellowship programme provided by Fermes d’Avenir, which enabled him to leave Paris with the aim to pursue his passion for organic market gardening and make it his profession within Nathalie Cerclé’s farm. 

> But what is the Fermes d’Avenir fellowship programme?  

It is an 8-month training programme at the end of which participants are ready to start their own farm, to be recruited as qualified farm workers or even as crop managers on a farm. In addition to training a workforce in agroecological practices that are essential to the transition towards more sustainable practices, the fellowship programme has a special course dedicated to refugees arriving in France just like Amadou.  This is a unique programme in France which creates pairs with a refugee and a non-refugee who will work together throughout the training.  

Did you know that in France, one in ten asylum seekers detains agricultural skills?  The French agriculture sector is cruelly lacking a qualified labour force while those people often wish to develop their skills such as the life story of Amadou shows us. The fellowship programme is therefore providing labour force to an economic sector in demand, a real way of integrating refugees into the labour market and into a society that we want more respectful of the people and the planet. 

« I like everything: the environment, the land, how the land works, that’s what I like about organic market gardening, not working with chemicals. I want to produce health to give to people » – Amadou Traoré 

MigrantVoicesHeard: Enhancing the participation of migrants through the creation of “migrant councils“

A dynamic and intercultural society implies the participation of all individuals in the decision-making process that affects their communities and their future.

Migrants and refugees are directly affected by integration decisions and policies implemented at local, regional and national level.

Yet they are under-represented in political life.

The project « MigrantVoicesHeard”  aims at setting up migrant councils to foster the participation of foreign citizens in the development and implementation of integration policies at local, regional and national level in seven EU countries. (Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Austria, France, Romania, Hungary).

Groupe SOS  is involved in this project and promotes a better understanding of migrants needs and conditions. 

Migrant Voices Heard project is co-financed by the European Commission with the support of the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (FAMI).

The project has the following objectives:

  • The creation of 5 migrant councils and the reactivation of one in Italy allowing direct public action on integration policies.(working closely with local authorities)
  • Promoting the exchange of experience between local and regional public authorities regarding the involvement of migrants in the design of integration policies and their implementation
  • Strengthen the capacity of local and regional authorities to effectively consult migrants on policies that directly affect them.

We are in a mobilisation phase so if you are:

  • An association working in the field of integration and political rights
  • A foreigner who wants to change political rights

The MVH project is there to propose a new way to make your voice heard and to allow you to be real actors of change. By bringing together associations and migrants, our objectives are to discuss needs, create dialogue and a safe space for improving migrants rights.

Don’t hesitate to join us!

Together for a better integration and a better Europe.

For more information please visit this website: https://morethanprojects.actionaid.it/en/projects/migrantvoicesheard/