Par Sophie Chauliac, consultante chez Stone Soup. 

Les entreprises sociales en Europe font de plus en plus parler d’elles. Si le secteur est effectivement en pleine ébullition, il reste difficile de mesurer son développement car la définition d’une entreprise sociale varie selon les pays. Même à l’échelle nationale, le concept d’entreprise sociale se décline sous des formes multiples et suscite le débat. Cette diversité, qui témoigne de la fécondité et du dynamisme de l’entrepreneuriat social, est aussi la source d’un manque de lisibilité qui freine son développement. Coup de projecteur sur les acteurs de l’écosystème de l’entrepreneuriat social en Espagne, au Portugal et en France.

Avec ou sans but lucratif ?

La première question qui se pose est celle du modèle économique des entreprises sociales, en particulier en France, en Espagne et au Portugal, où l’économie sociale et solidaire est fortement implantée et où il peut être culturellement difficile de concilier le social et la viabilité économique.

Leire Vega est chargée de communication chez Unlimited Spain, un accélérateur de start-ups qui encourage l’innovation dans les domaines de la ville durable, de la santé et de l’agroalimentaire. Elle explique que « UnLtd évalue les entreprises à l’aune de leur impact social. Nous sommes convaincus que la viabilité financière en est un élément clé, c’est pourquoi notre programme n’est pas destiné aux ONGs ». Depuis le début de ses opérations en Espagne il y a trois ans, Unlimited Spain a soutenu plus de 50 entreprises sociales. La quasi-totalité d’entre elles sont des sociétés à responsabilité limitée.

Pour d’autres organisations, les définitions ne sont pas aussi tranchées et il existe une zone grise. C’est le cas de la fondation française Entreprendre&Plus, qui elle aussi soutient des entrepreneurs sociaux. Félicie Goyet, Directrice de projet, raconte que la sélection des projets fait parfois débat au sein même de l’équipe : « ce que nous regardons, c’est le potentiel des entreprises en termes d’impact social et leur capacité à se développer en ne dépendant pas uniquement de dons et de subventions ». Mais tout dépend de ce qu’on entend par « uniquement ». Elle ajoute « la maximisation de l’impact social passe avant les profits, mais n’empêche pas d’en générer ! ».

On the 10th of December will be the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration, such a beautiful construct, that mobilised people from all continents to design universal rights, has remained wonderfully updated even with all the changes in the world. However, these universal rights are challenged every day by people that forego our inherent right to dignity and promote inequality, devise and discrimination

When speaking of human rights, and especially their defence, it is common to leave companies behind. State obligations are always the first to be mentioned, side by side with all the valuable efforts of human rights’ NGOs that work to promote those rights. Companies come to mind when speaking of human rights violations and how difficult it is to be accountable. Or when there is an ethical breech or a flagrant disrespect of human rights, committed by someone in a leadership position. 

But companies can and should be at the forefront of human rights defence. They can advocate for the most vulnerable, be bastions of protection and help confer human dignity to all those that they employ. They can uphold the highest standards of labour rights. They can promote diversity and happiness. They can guarantee that human rights are not an empty construct. 

Best for the World 2018 / Customers Honoree

We are thrilled to be recognized as being among the companies creating the most positive overall impact on its customers based on an independent, comprehensive assessment administered by the nonprofit B Lab. Honorees are featured on B the Change, the digital Medium publication produced by B Lab, at bthechange.com/bestfortheworld.

The Best For Customers list includes businesses that earned a Customer score in the top 10 percent of more than 2,400 Certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment. The full assessment measures a company's impact on its workers, community, customers and environment.To certify as B Corporations, companies like Stone Soup must complete the full assessment and have their answers verified by B Lab.

The Customer portion of the B Impact Assessment measures the impact a company has on its customers by focusing on whether a company sells products or services that promote public benefit and if those products/services are targeted toward serving underserved populations. The section also measures whether a company’s product or service is designed to solve a social or environmental issue (preserving environment, creating economic opportunity for individuals or communities, or increasing the flow of capital to purpose-driven enterprises for example). Honorees scoring in the top 10 percent set a gold standard for the high impact that business as a force for good can make on consumers around the world

3S: Manage for Impact Conference, organised by TIIME and Stone Soup Consulting, unites the European social sector on the road for impact management


October 1st, 2018. More than 150 participants from 18 countries representing foundations, social purpose organisations, impact investors, academia and service providers have joined 3S: Manage for Impact, the first event of the Stone Soup Series co-organized with TIIME, at ESADE Business School in Barcelona.  

The aim of this learning and networking event was to help scale and maximize the social impact of organisations by moving the conversation forward from measuring to managing impact. During their opening conversation, Sophie Robin (Stone Soup Consulting) and Hedda Pahlson-Moller (TIIME) spoked notably about the organising team’s motivations for the event: the need to open silos up, bring communities together and work for collaborative innovation, (among others).

According to Jeremy Nicholls, Keynote speaker at the conference and board member of Social Value International, “if all you are going to do is to measure your impact, then don’t bother. It’s not enough”.

September 26th 2017, by Cláudia Pedra.

A few months ago, Stone Soup worked in Lisbon with an amazing organisation called Oblatas. They are a religious organisation whose mission is to help women that are in prostitution and those that are victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

We were hired to do an organisational assessment. For a consultant, this is a task that is almost second nature to us. We are used to entering organisations, applying participative methodologies, finding out all the details – the good, the bad (sometimes the ugly) and recommending good practices. Simple? Maybe in some cases. But as not all organisations are the same, not all procedures could be equal.

Oblatas are nuns. They have an organisation where technicians and nuns work together. They convey their Christian values, and live based on them, but they never pass judgement. Nor on their staff nor on the women they help. They are a quite controversial organisation. Nuns that work with women prostitutes that hand out free condoms in their field work. Many do not understand it, some condemn it, but some also appreciate the way they are truly concerned with the women’s wellbeing. So concerned that they are willing to leave moral judgement behind.

So why speak of this when speaking of an organisational assessment? Because people and organisations are living and breathing beings and the consultant that stays in an office trying to look at them through a lens of formal practice may never understand them. That is why the Stone Soup team went to the street. We saw the team interact with these women. We saw the women complain, unburden and laugh. It was like witnessing two good friends that crossed each other on the street. Never does the team offer more help than asked for. It was so interesting to witness how their methodology works.