17 September 2021
©Philippe Lissac/GODONG

Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA in June 2018, Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme aimed at all Crédit Agricole group employees for the benefit of microfinance institutions or impact businesses supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.

Read the interview with Jean-Baptiste Bounes, SODICA’s Solidarity Banker, who carried out an online mission in favour of Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE) between 2020 and 2021.

 The fight against poverty through entrepreneurship

Eric Campos presented the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, and more specifically the Solidarity Bankers programme, during a CACIF corporate plenary session in December 2019. I was immediately seduced by the poverty reduction missions through the promotion of entrepreneurship with social impact and inclusive finance in developing countries. I contacted the Foundation to be informed of the various Solidarity Bankers missions to be filled in order to apply to a mission in line with my skills and motivations.

After having several interviews conducted by the Foundation team, I was selected to advise PPSE in Cambodia in its fundraising strategy .

The proposed assignment fully met my expectations: to be able to use my skills for the benefit of a project with a strong social impact in a difficult context linked to Covid-19;; discover a new culture and get out of my professional comfort zone.

The challenge of this mission was to be able to successfully collaborate remotely over a long period while maintaining intensity in the process of fundraising.

 A remote mission during a pandemic

Due to restrictions linked to the Covid-19, I participated through my intervention with PPSE to the Foundation’s first online mission of Solidarity Bankers.

Unlike the field missions which often take place over two weeks, my mission was carried out at the rate of one day per week over 15 weeks which was well suited to an operation of fundraising . This allowed me to be present alongside the manager and shareholders over the long term.

A real educational work was done during the initial discussions to ensure that the level of understanding of the various challenges was the same for each attendee .

In addition, in order to maintain close collaboration over time despite the distance, weekly updates were organised,. The upstream definition of the various stages also facilitated the smooth running of the process. This allowed the Foundation to consider new remote missions in a proper way.

Skills volunteering: an experience to be renewed

This experience was very enriching , both on a human and professionally level.

First of all, the real autonomy that was entrusted to me allowed me to ask myself the right questions, to assert myself and to gain confidence in order to complete successfully the missions on a daily basis. This experience undoubtedly marked a turning point in my professional career.

I also had the chance to work alongside a company with a strong social impact and Impact Investing funds, which was really close to my heart as I find this universe fascinating and promising.

This mission has also given me a lot on a human level. I discovered a completely different culture and made inspiring and enriching encounters.

I would particularly like to thank Dara Huot, CEO of PPSE, for his extreme generosity, kindness and trust. The investment in terms of time and workload is certainly significant, but if it had to be done again, I would do it again in a heartbeat.