Favour the development of human capital in Africa

With a presence in 19 African countries, Société Générale responds positively to the challenges regarding the development of the African continent through the active support of its corporate foundation for solidarity-based initiatives that target education and professional integration, its two lines of intervention.

Interview of Cécile Jouenne-Lanne, Director of the Foundation

In an article published by the World Bank at the start of the year*, the authors highlighted the extent to which the human capital – namely the skills, experience and dynamism of a population – is a decisive factor in a country's development. According to the international organisation, this capital represents more than 65 % of the wealth of all the countries in the world, but just 41 % of that of low-income countries. In view of this challenge, and in the context of its 2020 strategic and financial plan - Transform to Grow – which makes Africa a priority market, the Société Générale Corporate Foundation supports actions in this continent that favour education by fighting exclusion and discrimination with a view to employment.

Close collaborations in the field

Although Africa represented 5 % of the group's revenue in 2016, the Société Générale Corporate Foundation devotes 15 % of its total budget to it. This sum has progressed from €1 M when it was created in 2006 to €3.5 M in 2018. "Above all, by financing programmes mainly in countries where we are established we are targeting the effectiveness of the actions deployed", explains Cécile Jouenne-Lanne, Director of the Foundation. "We have decided to support three priority partners in Africa that are perfectly familiar with the challenges faced by the continent. These are Care, Simplon and Terres en Mêlées. These organisations work in close collaboration with our own teams in the field. Naturally, we remain open to other local initiatives." Indeed, that is how the partnership with Terre en Mêlées came into being following an informal meeting in Madagascar between its founder - a former rugby player from the Stade Toulousain - and the Director of the Madagascan branch of Société Générale. "He presented the association's work to the Foundation's Board of Director which then decided to support it. "

Favour good quality local responses

In order to guide resources according to the specific needs of each country, the Foundation's teams work regularly with the Societe Generale's local branches to identify the most relevant themes. "All our representatives are unanimous. They place employment in first place, before health." Although the themes supported are common, the approaches applied locally are specific. "In some countries, for example, the actions will involve the fight against early pregnancies, while in other countries, greater attention will be paid to the question of the isolation of villages."  Throughout 2018, the Foundation is supporting 15 projects in Africa, with a preference for eight priority countries : Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia. " Along with our association partners, our common aim is to focus on initiatives managed by local populations that can then be replicated in other towns, regions or country in a completely independent manner. This is an essential method for triggering a long-term dynamic that positions each participant as an ambassador of change. We are not interested in short-term high-impact actions, but a strategy based on small but effective steps which, when combined over the months, accompany the transformation of countries in line with the pace of each one. " For example: the partnership with the Simplon Foundation allowed 100  people in Africa to be trained this year in computer programming related professions, a majority of whom were women ! This number will be 500 in 2019 and 1,500 in 2020. These skills - forging a new human capital - are all the more essential in that they participate directly in the economic development of countries that are faced with the challenges of the digital revolution.

Give associations time

A specific feature of the Societe Generale Corporate Foundation's strategy ? The wish to establish long-term partnerships. "We want to give associations time This allows them to roll out actions in the medium and even the long term. That is why our selective support is included in the frame of pluriannual framework agreements." One of the specific features of the Foundation's priority partners is link to the countries' institutions. "Beyond our own commitment, African States request their intervention because of the effectiveness of the results they obtain and the international recognition of their action. Without being a requirement, this does underline the relevance of our own support which responds to a real ambition for populations."

Encourage skills-based sponsorship

Partnerships go well beyond simple financial support. They are based on close relations with the local teams and, in particular, lead to skills-based sponsorship actions. "For example, at an establishment in Dakar, we welcomed people trained by the Simplon Foundation in Senegal in order to offer them a real insight into banking professions." Yet again, our aim was maximum efficiency. "We encourage all initiatives that promote skills-based sponsorship on the sole condition that they meet a real need."

Discover our support for three associations in Africa through the eyes of their Director

2018 Key figures of the Corporate Foundation

  • 2006 : creation

  • €3.5 M of the annual budget

  • 80 projects supported per year

Figures since creation

  • €25 M committed

  • 1,000 projects supported

  • 400,000 beneficiaries

Sources: World Bank