“A hungry man is not a free man.” Yéli Touré, Joseph Zamble and Franck-Michel Amon, respectively legal specialist, general management inspector and head of operational efficiency at BICICI, the BNP Paribas subsidiary in Côte d’Ivoire, like to use this Adlai Stevenson quote to introduce Lilidè and 10GS’ Impact, the intrapreneurship projects they are leading at People’sLab4Good.
The programme, coordinated by the BNP Paribas Company Engagement Department, makes it possible for Group employees to transform ideas into viable projects addressing the expectations of both their business and society. The 2018 class of People’sLab4Good comprises 15 intrapreneurs from various entities and four different countries.
Focused on school meals, Lilidè and 10GS’ Impact meet many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, with an impact on education, employment, the situation of women, and ecology.
Lilidè: cafeterias against school dropout
Some 300,000 children drop out of school every year in Côte d’Ivoire, mainly because their commute is too long, which means they are unable to go home for lunch. The project of Yéli and Joseph, Lilidè, or “eatery”, addresses this problem by enabling children in disadvantaged areas to study without having to worry about what they are going to eat. The idea is to create fruit and vegetable gardens near to schools in rural areas in Côte d’Ivoire to supply cafeterias with fresh and healthy produce.
The vegetable gardens will be cultivated using sustainable methods by women, working as part of cooperatives and paid with a part of the harvest, as well as pupils, to raise their awareness of responsible agriculture and entrepreneurship. Two initial pilot sites have been selected in Aboisso and Dabou in Sud-Comoé, a rural region in southeast Côte d’Ivoire. Part of the harvest will be sold, serving to finance the roll-out of the model elsewhere in the country and internationally.
10GS’ Impact: energy for cafeterias
Franck-Michel’s project, 10GS’ Impact, supplements Lilidè and is based in the same rural areas. It consists in installing digesters, large tanks generating biogas from organic waste via anaerobic digestion, near schools. “Instead of throwing energy away, children will learn how to reinject it in the digesters to produce the gas used for preparing meals in their school cafeterias,” he explains.
“As with the Lilidè project, 10GS’ Impact will provide children with food and help them to study in appropriate conditions. The project also has an ‘educational’ component, both in farming and manufacturing terms. The digesters will require maintenance, which will give the children the chance to learn a trade and encourage them to empower themselves through entrepreneurship.” Any surplus biogas produced by the digesters could also be used to power electricity at BICICI branches.
Instead of throwing energy away, children will learn how to reinject it in the digesters to produce the gas used for preparing meals in their school cafeterias
Ambitious projects, already a success
At the end of the four-month period of support from People’sLab4Good, Yéli, Joseph and Franck-Michel have all the tools required to launch their projects. The next step in their intrapreneurial path will consist in pitching their ideas to in-house investors to finance Lilidè and 10GS’ Impact. From “zero” hunger, high-quality education and gender equality to clean energy at a sustainable cost, decent employment, sustainable communities and responsible consumption and production, the positive impacts of these projects go well beyond issues of image and attracting new customers to BICICI and BNP Paribas by contributing to a virtuous ecosystem at grassroots level.
The Intrapreneurs4Good are not leading their ambitious projects in isolation. They have been able to extend their ecosystem through dialogue with people from outside their original profession, including farming experts at local and international level, as well as the deputy chief of staff at the Ministry of National Education and the director of school cafeterias in Côte d’Ivoire. Seeing Lilidè as a response to a long-standing national problem, these last have invited Yéli and Joseph to review together all the government’s support actions, such as the provision of plots of land and the mobilisation of women’s groups involved in the project.
People’sLab4Good has thus proven a true transformative experience for the Ivorian intrapreneurs, who have acquired new skills as well as greater confidence and legitimacy. “It has revealed my inner warrior,” says Yéli, previously extremely discreet. Upholding new working methods, Yéli, Joseph and Franck-Michel like to share and disseminate what they have learned with their colleagues at BICICI. They are encouraging other employees to take bold steps and harness intrapreneurship for positive environmental and social action.