3 May 2021

Salomé Géraud & Jonathan Jérémiasz, portraits of entrepreneurs and a cross-section of ESUS approval

Salomé Géraud & Jonathan Jérémiasz, portraits of entrepreneurs and a cross-section of ESUS approval

Today, the Impact France Movement brings together more than 250 companies with ESUS approval among the 1,700 listed by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance. On the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the approval and to mark the acceleration of the ecological and social transformation of many companies that could be marked by such a rethought approval, the Impact France Movement presents two members in a cross look at the issues and ambitions of such an approval.

Can you introduce us to your structure?

Salomé Géraud: Le Drive tout nu is a young company that I founded with my husband, Pierre. It's a Drive concept where you can shop online for all the mass-market products, except that the products are local (60% are produced less than 100km away) and come from virtuous agriculture or production, organic or respecting quality standards and the preservation of biodiversity, soil, etc. Everything is without disposable packaging, jars and canvas bags are made available to customers who are encouraged to bring them back to us via a financial incentive.

Jonathan Jérémiasz: I run three organisations, each of which is not so young. Comme les Autres is an association recognised as being in the public interest, which helps disabled people to rebuild their lives after an accident. Handiamo is a company that supports high-level disabled athletes in their careers and organises events to raise awareness of disability through sport. And Voix publique, a cooperative communications agency that mobilises citizens on issues of general interest.

In addition to these missions of social and ecological utility, do you integrate other structuring commitments in your companies?

Jonathan Jérémiasz: From my earliest entrepreneurial experiences, I have always insisted on establishing fair and equitable practices, particularly on the subjects of wealth and power sharing. These issues are written into the articles of association, with a strict limit on pay differentials and a participatory mode of governance. This is very much linked to the social utility mission, we cannot act on a daily basis to protect or support vulnerable groups and at the same time not value the human beings who work in the company, the responsibility of the managers goes beyond the beneficiaries and clients and addresses all the stakeholders, including the employees and including the manager who must be exemplary.

Salomé Géraud: what first motivated us was to offer a service where there is no place for waste, that's what we thought about our business model and then we added bricks of good practice that seemed obvious to us: valuing women in management positions, employing young people, but also fair prices for our customers. As we created the Naked Drive in 2018 following the Ticket for Change Entrepreneur Course, we had good tutors to guide the development and to draft articles of association that ensured that we were in line with our values.

ESUS approval is adapted to our values and serves as a framework for our impact approach. It has enabled us to set a virtuous medium-term development horizon
- Salomé Géraud

How does ESUS (social utility enterprise) approval fit into this approach?

Salomé: natively. We drew up our articles of association with ESUS in mind; it is an approval that is adapted to our values and which serves as a framework for our impact approach. It enabled us to set a virtuous development horizon over the medium term. It is also with the strength of this approval that we have developed, since we very quickly raised funds by bringing in funds for which ESUS was a guarantee of our impact and our approach.

Today, as we are in the midst of a development and spin-off phase via social franchising, accreditation, or at least the objective of accreditation, has become a rule and a clause in the franchise contract. It is a very good element for measuring the sincerity of the franchisees' approach to value sharing, but it complements other impact KPIs that we monitor very closely and that are not covered by the ESUS scope, notably our zero waste approach and the choice of local products.

Jonathan: it has become a prerequisite, it is an indispensable safeguard that makes it possible to guarantee an equitable distribution of wealth that is consistent with values. Even if it is imperfect, I think that accreditation is a good complement to statutes that are already well drafted. It certifies an approach and practices and, above all, helps to guide the development of a company because it sets a course that prevents drift, particularly with regard to compulsory reserves, reinvestment and the limitation of dividends, which allows the social utility mission to bear fruit.

How could this accreditation evolve for you and also to support companies in their transition process?

Salomé: It's obvious that we can do better, already on the existing situation, the DIRECCTE agents could be better sensitised, but the heart of progress is on the ambition of the approval. A company that has a real social mission and is committed to putting impact on the same level as turnover should have access to more incentives and more support from the public authorities. ESUS accreditation could be the gateway to advantageous public policies, but it still needs to be better known, not only by business leaders but also by consumers.

Jonathan: I see several areas for improvement in the approval system as it exists today. The first blind spot that can be resolved quickly is the problem of profitability at the time of the transfer of shares in an ESUS, which is not at all regulated. Another issue is to give more prominence to the ecological impact which, since the Pact Law, is one of the aspects of social utility but which would gain from being valued, which could involve a change of name by imagining, for example, a Solidarity and Ecological Enterprise approval. Then, on the part of the advantages allowed by the approval, we could go further, by first granting the advantages of the recognition of general interest (sponsorship, voluntary work, etc.), then by adding others: favourable taxation, preference in public procurement, etc. Above all, the biggest effort lies in the communication around this approval, because many structures could benefit from it if they think differently about their activity, which is the case for craftsmen and small traders, for example. It could be a great tool to guide all these companies towards enhancing and increasing their positive impact and accelerate the development of the solidarity and ecological economy.

Accreditation could benefit a large number of structures if they think differently about their activity. This is the case, for example, for craftsmen or small traders. It could be a great tool to guide all these businesses towards enhancing and increasing their positive impact and accelerating the development of the solidarity and ecological economy.
- Jonathan Jérémiasz
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