[STORY] The Societe Generale Foundation’s Africa program

interview with Aurélie Robin


Since 2018, the Societe Generale Foundation has reinforced its citizenship programmes in its African subsidiaries. These priority programmes, combining financial sponsorship and skills sponsorship, are geared towards supporting local initiatives with a focus on education, access to training, or the development of income-generating activities. In 2018, the foundation supported 12 projects in nine African countries and chose three priority partner charities in this zone: Simplon, CARE et Terres en Mêlées. We talk with Aurélie Robin, corporate philanthropy projects manager and head of this program, to find out more about its challenges and goals.

How did the Africa program come about?

In 2018, the Foundation launched an Africa program consistent with the Societe Generale Group's strategic plan, Transform to Grow, which included a major growth priority in Africa. The Foundation has always supported projects in Africa, working in collaboration with the subsidiaries on the continent. We are now consolidating this support with a larger budget. We have started by identifying three priority partners with projects in several countries. In addition to these partners, we have also supported nine other projects in Africa.

What is the origin of the PanAfrican Charity Awards?

Alexandre Maymat, as head of the Africa, Mediterranean and Overseas region and a member of the Foundation’s board of directors, wanted to galvanise local efforts by involving the subsidiaries and employees more. The “Africa Citizenship” program was created at his request. It involves strengthening and developing the sponsorship programmes in each of the subsidiaries and illustrating the company’s connection to the local area. So, to raise the subsidiaries’ awareness of this new “Africa Citizenship” programme, the PanAfrican Charity Awards were launched in December 2018 to reward three projects led by local non-profit organisations that are not yet partners of the Foundation.

How were these PanAfrican Charity Awards organised?

Each subsidiary in the region was invited to submit a support application form based on three criteria. First, the project had to be in line with the Foundation’s areas of focus; we paid particular attention to projects that promoted the role of women as key players in economic development. The second criterion was the existence of a local partnership between the subsidiary and the organisation. And the third was the prior identification by the subsidiary of actions it could implement to encourage its employees to get involved with the charity. Three projects were selected, the Ali Zaoua Foundation in Morocco for the creation of a cultural centre in Marrakesh, the Amos project helping women to start poultry farming in Senegal and Claire Amitié for the construction and extension of a centre focused on the professional integration of young women in northern Côte d’Ivoire. These charities will receive support jointly developed at the local level and according to their needs. We are already thinking about organising a second edition as this event enabled the subsidiaries to put the spotlight on projects they identified in their communities.