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.