24 April 2020

By Dominique Rombczyk, CA Val de France

©Philippe Lissac

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 Foundation. Discover the article written by Dominique Rombczyk, Solidarity banker of CA Val de France, who travelled in 2019 to Cambodia to support Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE), a social enterprise in which the Foundation is a shareholder.

When I discovered the Solidarity Bankers programme, I remember looking for as much information as possible on the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation as well as on Professor Yunus, on inclusive finance, on social entrepreneurship … All well-known notions, shared values but which seemed to be part of another world. The opportunity offered by Crédit Agricole and the Foundation to step into this world was too exciting to be overlooked.

I therefore decided to apply and was selected to carry out the Solidarity Bankers mission with Phare Circus (PPSE), a social enterprise that aims at promoting social inclusion and the empowerment of young Cambodians through art. The objectives of the mission were to identify the roles of the financial and managerial team, to train and propose a training plan on management concepts and financial strategy, and to propose monitoring and financial management tools.

The preparation phase was essential. After initial discussions with the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation team, there was quite a reading of PPSE presentation documents, financial data and general information to better understand the mission. In the weeks prior to the departure, several meetings took place with the Foundation and the enterprise to finalise the planning of the mission. Telephone exchanges allowed me to feel the enthusiastic state of mind of all interested parties.

A fascinating field mission

The departure for the 15-day field mission in Cambodia took place on September 7, 2019 with Hélène Kéraudren-Baubé, Administrative and Financial Director of the Foundation. The Managing Director of PPSE himself came to greet us at the airport, along with his family, creating a very familiar atmosphere that lasted during our whole stay there.

During the first four days of the mission, we had several meetings with the Managing Director and the heads of departments to analyse the functioning and organisation of PPSE in order to reflect together on ways for optimising the structure. The presence of Ms. Keraudren-Baubé during the first days of the mission was a true added value for proposing a relevant strategy planning for PPSE.

We also had the chance to attend the show offered by Phare Circus. A show mixing theatre, folk music and Cambodian stories. The incredible performance of young artists from difficult social and economic backgrounds was one of the highlights of my mission.

The second part of the mission was mainly based on the training of the Financial Unit teams. There were training sessions in the field of accounting, analysis and financial strategy, that helped consolidate, within the PPSE financial team, certain concepts. These trainings also allowed detecting training needs and thus helping to develop a training plan that the institution will be able to implement later.

Back in France

After the return from the mission, many projects were under way. The training plan, the strategic planning project, the drafting of a support for financial communication with the PPSE Board of Directors, the implementation of a financial monitoring tool … Several weeks after the return, I sent my final report to PPSE. Interactions in the meantime have been positive, and elements established during the mission are already being used and implemented.

I am back in France with the joy of having been able to share the daily life of so many passionate, enthusiastic and brilliant people within the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and PPSE. This mission allowed me to experience from the inside the functioning of a social enterprise and the beautiful dynamic that animates these structures. The idea of living this daily is extremely tempting.

A sense of pride also exists: that of being part of a Group that acts concretely, on the ground, with commitment, to promote social values.

Incidentally, but it is worth mentioning, the visit of the Angkor Wat temple, an emblematic place of Cambodia (which appears on its flag), can only leave an indelible mark on all visitors who go there.

Newsletter #35 to download here