Transform the workforce of large corporations by revealing to them the untapped potential of underrepresented entrepreneurs

Transform the workforce of large corporations by revealing to them the untapped potential of underrepresented entrepreneurs

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We want every entrepreneur to have the same chances of success – whatever his/ her background is or wherever his/her enterprise is located. We want each large company to create transformative shared value and to radically transform their purchase practices. We want them to go beyond business as usual to become powerful changemakers and face one of the most pressing issue we have in France: minorities empowerment and economic development of disadvantaged areas. Our vision boils down to one single sentence: we want jobs to be created in underprivileged areas. To do so, we have to help entrepreneurs there to grow their businesses and support them. The best way for them to grow is to have access to networks that matter as well was major markets.. markets of French large companies.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In the disadvantaged areas, the unemployment rate is significantly higher as compared to other zones. Among the active population between 15-24 years old (more than half of population is less than 25 in some neighborhoods), 45% of the men and 38% of the women are unemployed; in other urban and rural territories, the unemployment rates are respectively 16,5% for young men and 23,2% for young women. They nonetheless demonstrate a strong entrepreneurial spirit: 30% of them would like to start up a company, while the national average is 20%. Even more, amongst young people (18-24 years old) this rate goes up to 50%.In France, statistics said that 12,6 % of entrepreneurs are born abroad whereas they represent only 5.4% of the whole population. Nonetheless, enterprises started by persons with a diversity/immigrant background face problems with the creation as well as the sustainability of their activities - 30% less chance to survive as compared to a company created by a person with a non-diverse background – quite similar results for entrepreneurs from underprivilged areas. That’s why, we firstly decide to focus especially on these entrepreneurs… they are the ones that can create more value … and jobs: In the US, minority-owned businesses are an engine of job creation, with paid employment growing by 27 percent between 2002-2007 compared to 0.03 percent for non-minority firms... Plus, entrepreneurs from our network are mostly in their early stages and have great perspectives of development: 68% of them have been created less than 5 years ago, 80% of theme have 5 or less employees – great potential to be an engine for job creation in their own communities.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Even if French corporations have increased their approach regarding HR diversity issues, companies still fail to see the economic potential of local companies, and discrimination still prevails in procurement processes. Our organisation is creating a new form of fair trade empowering entrepreneurs that are discriminated against.Our success lays in a dual transformation process: we open procurement officers’ eyes to fairer, more competitive procurement practices and at the same time shows them diversity through a new lens that breaks down stereotypes. We are actually the first French organisation that implements such an holistic approach – and a practical supplier diversity program. We have no direct competitor. Our comprehensive and transformative program has the power to equally redistribute wealth in France. Plus, it’s really innovative to actually bet on our entrepreneurs: the payoff for the whole economy can be huge: the computing company Go-Micro has - thanks to a initial microloan of a French MFI partner of Adive - eventually created more than 500 jobs. This enterprise is actually a supplier of large corporations – ie: Adive’s business targets. We aim to set the standards so that plenty of success stories like this one can eventually emerge. Thanks to this unique template, our program has finally the potential to bridge many other discriminated groups into the mainstream economy. Adive is already preparing for the inclusion of entrepreneurs in other regions and territories as well as entrepreneurs suffering from other forms of discrimination (e.g. women, disabled...)
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our specific approach aims to help underrepresented entrepreneurs to find business opportunities . We help companies assess their current procurement processes and make them aware of opportunities to find suppliers in discriminated areas, then encourage companies to create a position for a key referent that plays the role of interface between HR, diversity and procurement units. We work with all the existing networks of entrepreneurs to build sustainable partnerships and virtuous relationships with them to educate and empower entrepreneurs with a diverse background or from disadvantaged areas – we have capacity building events scheduled on a monthly basis. Our approach is really social entrepreneurship-driven: we want to create the momentum for entrepreneurs and the business case for our corporate partners – we work upstream with top business schools to shift the culture of tomorrow’s leaders to bring real lasting change. In addition, as part of our strategy to deepen ties between corporations and entrepreneurs, we organize events on a regular basis. Adive organizes “breakfast meetings” between a corporate partner and entrepreneurs. At the same time, we start new events in France, such as "field trips" organised for corporate buyers where they can meet entrepreneurs in disadvantaged areas and the first "meet the buyers" conference based on sustainable procurement practises. Finally, the next « big thing » is an event called « supplier diversity week » in which a corporate partner is celebrating our program. This idea is to mobilize public speakers as well as top management and procurement services during a whole week.
About You
Adive (the French Agency for Diversity in Entrepreneurship)
About You
First Name


Last Name

El Jarroudi

Facebook Profile
About Your Organization
Organization Name

Adive (the French Agency for Diversity in Entrepreneurship)

Organization Country

, J75

Country where this project is creating social impact

, J75

How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

I always felt that I was at the intersection point between the business world and underprivileged population because of my origin, but also because of my business experience. Indeed, I have created 5 businesses so far with Adive’s other co-founder. So, I felt I needed to give back to our community. In 2008, inspired by the change happening in the U.S., and since I had gained experience in entrepreneurship, I decided to help minority-owned businesses to develop themselves by creating Adive.
I am personally considered as a serial entrepreneur, I have always set up enterprises with a view to improve knowledges about entrepreneurship, diversity or even social entrepreneurship. That's why, I started my first company at the age of 22 and continued to launch new initiatives and businesses to support entrepreneurs in their success, including a strategy consultancy firm, a real estate agency both dedicated to entrepreneurs and a cultural café. That's why, I also took the presidency of the NGO humanity in action in France and I was the general secretary of the association “Young entrepreneurs of France”. Indeed, Adive is the achievement of what I have been doing for many years: working with disadvantaged entrepreneurs and finding a sustainable way to develop their own activities. I was also invited to be a French delegate to the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship hosted by President Obama in April 2010.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

Since its early stages, Adive started the project of measuring its social impact, through an analysis of the SROI as well as several ratios illustrating Adive’s activity. We already have promising results: in 2010, from all the requests for proposal we received from our corporate partners, 35% of them turned out to become contracts for our entrepreneurs. Our program will be a success when the new market of diversity procurement will be sustainable and real synergies will fnally emerge from those territories. We can also track our social impact: in events we organized, 70% of buyers participated because their hierarchy had asked them to do so. What’s more, our approach is totally innovative and might have valuable social results on corporate mindsets: more than 90% of them had never put a step into a business incubator located in a disavantadged area before we had asked them to. Our action makes both social and economic sense: buyers from large corporations found potential new suppliers during the visit (between 1 and 6 on average). We bring also new opportunities for our entrepreneurs: 95% of entrepreneurs mentioned that they hadn’t been able to meet such corporate managers otherwise. Finally, at the end of 2010, 85% of entrepreneurs that answered to our poll said that our program was « very useful » for them to grow their business. Our capacity building events allow our entrepreneurs to be more competitive: all participants mentioned that these events will help them running their entreprise on a daily basis. Finally, one of the most valuable insights was that there is a strong correlation between the fact that an entrepreneur has already been in touch with Adive - and has benefitted from one of Adive’s service -, and their expectations of concrete advantages for business development: indeed, all entrepreneurs that had already benefitted from Adive’s services thought that our action is « very useful » for the business development of their enterprises VS only 9% of entrepreneurs not having benefitted form Adive’s services yet...

How many people have been impacted by your project?

1,001- 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

Five years from now we will be entirely privately founded. We have been sensitizing more than 35 large companies so far and there are currently in France more than 500 companies with 2000 employees and more. The market is really huge: we have a lot of potential business partners down the road. Furthermore, we will implement the same methodology to duplicate our approach towards other “entrepreneurs in-needs” such as women-owned businesses or enterprises with disabled people … We do want indeed to spread the concept of diversity in entrepreneurship and to set the standards.We are going through the process to implement the program in both the northside and southside of France: it will be launched in major cities in France by the end of 2012 – and maybe in other European countries....

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

In France, there aren’t any mandatory obligations such as in the US to work with small businesses, and especially with diverse suppliers - unfortunately we don't have any small business act! Consequently, this is both an inconvenient and an advantage: an inconvenient because of, as we noticed, Corporations are changing their practices because of legal modification; they want to manage risk. This prevents us from a fast growth. But at the same time, we have to spend time and involve every business unit within the company, which leads us to another external obstacle: time. It implies a long-term process to shift from the current paradigm to another, especially in the corporate world. What’s more, it takes time to have real success-stories: for instance the first contract an entrepreneur won with KPMG was after the third trial. It’s because the company
trusts us that it eventually worked out. The entrepreneur is now a regular supplier and won contracts from other corporate partners. Indeed, we need to convince them that we are creating real shared-value, as defined recently by M.Porter (The big Idea: creating Share value, HBR, January 2011). This is part of our commitment. Furthermore, a program like Adive stirs up a lot of questions, that’s why one of the biggest internal obstacles is that we have to manage the expectations of all stakeholders with few people - 5 persons are working full-time on the project.

Tell us about your partnerships

We have partnerships with think tanks (sustainable procurement initiatives, …) that aims to change the current business practices of corporate France. We have indeed an influence on the current business world. We have also nurtured partnerships with organisations “on the field” (i.e: organisations that seed, foster entrepreneurship activity in disadvantaged area). We have currently more than fifty partnerships so far. We have a partnership for instance with a French MFI to help their beneficiairies grow their business and to have more impact. We are trying also to radically change mindsets and regards about disadvantaged areas - that's why we had been leading the first major national survey about entrepreneurship in disadvantaged areas, carrying out by a major French polling organisation in November 2010.
We want to foster partnerships we have with public institutions (2 at this time) so that we can truly have a political impact and put our subject – diversity in entrepreneurship – on the agenda.
We have also sustainable partnerships with social entrepreneurship-related organisations (we are supported by Echoing Green and Ashoka) in order to exchange about good practises in the field.
ADIVE wants to increase and facilitate business opportunities between its entrepreneurs and corporations. That’s the reason why, Adive was partnering with a top business school to implement tuition-free training program dedicated to entrepreneurs whose activity are in a disadvantaged area – at the same time we are working on business cases to drive innovation and commitment from large corporations.

Explain your selections

We plan to be financially independent by the beginning of 2013. We have an hybrid business model, public and private funded, including a three years contract with corporations we are working with. Half of our budget directly comes from our revenue model (large corporations' fees) and 25% come from foundations; the other 25% from national government. We are considered as an expert in diversity in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship in disadvantaged areas, that's why national government is supporting us. Our strategy is oriented towards self-sustainability with a fully integrated sustainable procurement program. We will be entirely privately founded. There are currently in France more than 500 companies with 2000 employees and more. The market is really huge: we have a lot of potential business partners down the road.
All these partnership allow us to be financially independent, drive social innovation in the mainstream economy - companies spend annually more billions of euros through procurement - and to have a political impact and benefit from the expertise of social entrepreneurship-related organisations. We built our Social Return On Investments (SROI) approach thanks to this kind of partnership.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

We have to maintain our core activity (matchmaking, « on-field visit, workshops…) and go beyond: we have to work with additional corporations and qualify more entrepreneurs. Furthermore, We plan to improve and update our current web platform this year; this is the most strategic investment we have to make – and also the most expensive one. We have to spread confidence in order to foster economical exchanges between Buyers and entrepreneurs. Furthermore, we are working on thescale-up (national expansion by 2012).
Over the next 12 months, we plan to find new and secure public funds, but our main priority is to find new corporate partners - we are currently in an advanced negotiation level with several top French corporations. New public funding will help us to develop research & development activity. Besides, we secure financing funds from our current corporate partners as well as a support from Ashoka for the next 3 years.
We are to be recognized as a leader in France on such topics as diversity in entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship and diversity-oriented policies. This commitment will help us, as well as our updated platform, to drive new corporate partners, which is the backbone of our business strategy.

Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.


Restricted access to new markets


Lack of access to information and networks


Lack of skills/training

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

Our main activity is to open markets to underrepresented entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs who actually lack of access to information and networks. Our vision boils down to one concept: equity of opportunity. There are no quotas, no mandatory obligation to contract with entrepreneurs of our network: Adive's entrepreneurs have to compete with other regular supplier of corporations to win a contract. That's why, we build a specific program that makes so much economic and social sense. In order to scale and accelerate our program potential, we also design specific capacity building events for every Adive stakeholder - for instance business-oriented workshops for entrepreneurs to help them be more competitive and reach more contracts from large companies.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.



Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices


Repurposed your model for other sectors/development needs

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

We have already participated in several conferences accross the country and we have also created sustainabe links with business organisations/ entrepreneurs networks in both northside and southside of France. By the end of the year, our program will have reached its full potential - so that we can develop our approach nationally.
We have also already partnered with several public/ several institutions nationwide to spread supplier diversity's best practices. Our vision is to spead the concept of diversity in entrerpreneurship to bring a lasting change - that's why, we will dupplicate our approach towards other "entrepreneurs in-needs" in the months/ years to come.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Government, For profit companies.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

For profit companies are the backbone of our strategy to achieve systemic social change: we have a kind of "social business model" - our services are currently free of charges for our beneficiairies (entrepreneurs). Of course, entrepreneurs don't pay any commission of any kind if they finally contract with one of our business partner...
In other hand, government agencies help us to participate in the public debate - and to have a political impact.