Entrepreneurial Approach

Chemins d’Enfances offers a strategic and organizational support based on an entrepreneurial approach, adapting it to the needs of each of her partners.

Areas of action:

  • Support and training in finance, strategic planning and organization
  • Fund raising and management of grants at the local level
  • Establishment of income-generating activities in liaison with the children’s communities
  • Development of tools and indicators to measure the impact of these actions.


  • A better understanding of organizations’ challenges and of the responsibilities of each member
  • An enhanced ability to raise funds and even to generate incomes
  • An improved capacity to write and present reports to donors.
  • A greater ability to manage and develop their organization in its environment.
  • More sustainable structures.

Adopting new models for meeting social needs

Interview with Martine Roussel-Adam, company director,
founder of Chemins d’Enfances

What difficulties do associations encounter today?

In spite of the dynamism of the social sector, which is growing from 2.5 to 3 times faster than the rest of the economy in terms of employment, many small associations are obliged to reduce their activities or even cease operations because they lack funds.

They find it more and more difficult to obtain funding both because of a decline in government support and because small bodies find responding to requests for tender particularly complex. At the same time, the past few years have seen profound changes in private donors, whose philanthropy has become less reactive and more proactive: it is known as “venture philanthropy”. Twenty-first century donors view their donation as an investment from which they expect a return, not in financial terms, but in terms of its impact on the improvement of a social situation.

This means that they demand:

  • precise information on how their money will be used
  • reports on the results
  • And this requires greater professionalism!

How can an association become more professional?

It must not hesitate to borrow methods from the private sector, without, however, losing sight of its social vocation.

First: it must have a clear vision of what it is and what its goals are and it must set short-term and mid-term goals.

It must have in place instruments for management control and monitoring of its activities and take accounting and legal aspects very seriously. If the association is very vigilant in these areas from the outset, it is less likely to run into problems later.

It must also work on the allocation of its resources. Just as the director of a company knows that it is vulnerable if one customer represents more than 25% of its turnover, the association must be careful not to depend on two or three big donors. Good risk management is evidence of reliability.

It is also important to find resources beyond donations and grants, for example, income-generating activities such as the organization of training courses in its areas of competence, or having its services partly paid for, or setting up events sponsored by a big company. Of course, this means carefully looking into the potential fiscal consequences.

It is not because an association is better organized and becomes more professional that it meets social needs less effectively. On the contrary: by taking a forward-looking view and by becoming less dependent on grants, it will be better able to focus on its main activity..

It is this work of consolidation and of finding ways to ensure great stability that Chemins d’Enfances seeks to carry out with partners working in the area of the greater well-being of children in difficulty.

Today do any associations manage to reconcile an entrepreneurial approach with their social objectives?

Yes, there are more and more of them. Some are social entrepreneurs who are able to offer innovative solutions to social needs by using market forces. One is Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2003. With microcredit, he launched a new and universally applicable economic concept: to create wealth, the most underprivileged people must have access to capital. Thanks to him, millions of underprivileged people were able to launch their own economic activity and to raise their family out of dire poverty.

The concept has spread throughout the world and more and more business schools have developed programs on social entrepreneurship, such as ESSEC, INSEAD, and HEC in France.

The international association Ashoka identifies and accompanies particularly innovative social entrepreneurs – 1,800 worldwide to date – and thus actively contributes to the promotion of this sector and amplifies its impact on society.

More generally, the “social” and private worlds are becoming closer through partnerships, exchange of skills, and funding. Private bodies use venture capital methods to support organizations with a solidarity focus. This is the case of Phitrust Partenaires, which selects, invests in, and supports the development of projects with a social and/or environmental vocation and which are also economically viable.

All these trends are very promising. For too long the private sector and the social sector have ignored each other and I am convinced it is now the time for them to bring together their strengths and respective competences, while maintaining their specific identities, to tackle the crucial issues of our societies.