September 5, 2023

Why and how to obtain ESUS accreditation?

Why and how to obtain ESUS accreditation?

ESUS approval (Entreprise Solidaire d'Utilité Sociale) was born within the framework of the 2014 Hamon ESS law, and stemmed from a compromise between our movement's desire to obtain a 'label' for social and ecological enterprises enabling them to be better known and recognized, and the desire to maintain approval to focus on solidarity finance.  

Today, there are almost 2,000 ESUS-accredited companies. But what are their motivations? And how did they obtain this accreditation?

Why obtain ESUS accreditation?

Today, there are several advantages to obtaining ESUS accreditation:  

  • Seeing its social and ecological usefulness recognized by the State and society ;
  • Attract investors to the company's capital, as they can benefit from a 25% tax reduction in exchange;
  • Access to solidarity finance products (for solidarity funds called "90 - 10") under easier conditions: loans obtained within short timescales, on submission of simplified applications, with very low interest rates. These loans can be granted thanks to the success of employee savings schemes;
  • Access to DLA (dispositifs locaux d'accompagnement), which have been supporting job-creating socially useful structures in their economic consolidation and development since 2002;
  • Use of ESUS-approved companies for at least 5% of the volume of each public procurement contract when the latter has an environmentally responsible objective (since the 2021 Climate Law) ;

Link to the testimonial of an ESUS-certified company: Frédérick Marchand, CEO of Digital4Better, SSE at the heart of the sustainable transformation of our economy  

How do you obtain ESUS accreditation?

You need to apply for ESUS approval online via the Dreets (Directions régionales de l'économie, de l'emploi, du travail et des solidarités) website.

To complete your file, you must gather the following documents:

  • A copy of the current bylaws ;
  • An extract from the Trade and Companies Register  
  • The last three approved annual financial statements and the last approved activity report (except for legally-accredited organizations);
  • Profit and loss forecasts for the financial years corresponding to the duration of the approval applied for (except for automatically approved organizations);
  • A certificate from the manager stating that your company's shares are not admitted to a financial market;
  • Proof of compliance with salary restrictions specific to ESUS accreditation;

Once your application is complete, you must send three copies by registered post to the prefect of the département where the company has its head office. Visit the Government website to find out more.

To obtain ESUS accreditation, an organization must meet several criteria:  

  • Pursue a social or ecological purpose in its core business ; 
  • Prove that the search for social benefits has an impact on the company's income statement or profitability;  
  • Democratic governance;
  • Limited differences in remuneration: The remuneration paid to the highest-paid employee must not exceed an annual ceiling set at 10 x the minimum wage;
  • The company may not be listed on the stock exchange, and must make specific choices regarding the use of its profits:
    👉 At least 20% of each year's profits must be allocated to a mandatory statutory reserve, known as the "development fund"
    👉 At least 50% of each year's profits must be allocated to retained earnings and mandatory reserves.

It should be noted that certain companies can "ipso jure" be approved as ESUS. This category is defined in II of Article 11 of Law 2014-856 of 2014, and includes certain companies such as insertion enterprises (EI), insertion temporary work companies (ETTI), insertion workshops and construction sites, establishments and services for assistance through work (ESAT)....  

ESUS approval is valid for 5 years, or 2 years for companies less than 3 years old at the time of application.  

Also worth knowing: Entreprise à Impact, why adopt the status of an SSE commercial enterprise?

Read on

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