In April 2011, during the General Communities Meeting 2011, Professor Yunus declared that "Paris is the capital of social business", highlighting the fact that French corporations have been the first ones to join the social business movement. It seems that the French city wants to keep this honorific standing. Two weeks after Schneider Electric announcing the launch of a new social business venture in Bangladesh with Grameen Shakti, called Grameen Schneider Electric, Renault has also decided to jump on the bandwagon.
On July, 11th 2011, Renault officially announced the launch of its social business program, called "Mobiliz", a pun between "Mobility" and "Mobilization" of its employees in societal projects.
Mobiliz is directly linked to the mission of Renault, which is to give access to a sustainable mobility to as many people as possible, precised Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan. As for Danone, we may assume that the social business arm of the company will help to go further for the "to as many people as possible" part of the mission (Danone mission is to "bring health through food to as many people as possible"), trying to invent new business model to give access to valuable products and services for underpriviledged people.
Renault is partnering with Voiture & Co, a French association. As Emmanuel Faber, COO of Danone, said in the introduction, "co-creation is at the heart of social business", to try to solve problems that are unsolved by traditional approaches (business, philantropy, State).Thanks to the Mobiliz program, underpriviledged people will benefit from:
- An access to affordable reparations in "Renault solidaires" garages
- The possibility to rent a car at the cost of 5€/hour to find a job
"The exigence about the quality of the service will be exactly the same as with traditional clients, the only difference will be the bill, which is a solidary bill", explained Michel Legrain. Renault will renounce to its margin in this activity, but the beneficiaries will pay the cost of the services : "We want to help, but we never assist people", said Gilles Serre, Head of the Renault Mobiliz program, to remind that social business goes beyond philantropy.
Renault has also launched Mobiliz Invest, a social capital venture investing in projects enabling underpriviledged people to access to sustainable mobility. Renault will invest 5M€ in the investment fund.
The company has finally announced an academic partnership with the HEC Social Business Chair, becoming the third corporate partner of the programm, with Schneider Electric and Danone.
One interesting thing to note is that Renault has decided to launch its social business program in France whereas many companies have chosen to launch programs in developing countries first. The brand Renault is very linked to France, it will be easier to engage the French collaborators and there are lots of needs in the developed countries, justified Carlos Ghosn. Martin Hirsch indeed reveled that over the 8 million people in France who are under the poverty line, 2.5 million are working and 2.5 million are looking for a job. For all of them, having access to mobilty is crucial.
Renault had a long standing interest about social business, as explained in this article by François Rouvier (in French). And in in this video of the Grameen Creative Lab (2011), Carlos Ghosn explains his interest in social business, in this video from :