• Sustainable finance

“With the Grameen Creative Lab, we are developing a culture of social business throughout the Group”

Among our historic partners is the Grameen Creative Lab, an institution dedicated to developing the principles of Social Business in companies and incubating and accelerating social businesses, that is, companies that have a positive social or environmental impact. It was founded by Professor Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and a leading figure in microfinance and impact entrepreneurship. Porfessor Yunus and Grameen Creative Lab promote the concept aligned with Group ambitions, a "World of Three Zeroes": zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero net carbon emissions. In May, at a BNP Paribas conference in the presence of Professor Yunus, this partnership was renewed for three years. Claudia Belli, Head of the Inclusive Finance and Relations with Civil Society team, tells us more about the achievements and ambitions of this renewed partnership.

What are the major takeaways from the previous partnership with the Grameen Creative Lab? 

During the first four years of the partnership with the Grameen Creative Lab(Opens in a new tab),(Opens in a new tab) we worked to develop a culture of Social Business (Opens in a new tab)within the Group. This includes intrapreneurship, notably through the Peoples'sLab4Good program(Opens in a new tab), which gives employees the opportunity to incubate a project that could eventually become autonomous, as well as possibly be accelerated by the Grameen Creative Lab, in order to become a social business with maximum social or environmental impact.  

In order to encourage exchanges and knowledge transfer within the company around positive impacts, we have also worked with Grameen to create training on the development of an impact entrepreneurship model, which is dedicated to the Group's young Talents (Leaders for Tomorrow); through this program, they learn how to integrate positive impacts into their daily work.  

To support the social businesses with the Grameen Creative Lab, we have also made the Group’s different skills available to them, such as lawyers who work with them as part of our pro bono program. In addition, each year we participate in a major European event, the Global Social Business Summit, with several BNP Paribas speakers who lead workshops and panels on financial issues in this area: How to finance a social business and develop impact, what this means in terms of financial inclusion, etc.

What do you expect from the renewal of this partnership?

We have just renewed this partnership for three years in order to continue our actions... with a new feature that is very important! Until now, the social businesses accelerated by Grameen had to be independent and autonomous companies - which will no longer be the case: BNP Paribas' commitment has been recognized, and moving forward, our social businesses will be able to remain within the Group, no longer needing to be ‘autonomous’. In concrete terms, this means no more need for outsourcing new employment contracts, etc. This will facilitate the acceleration of these intrapreneurs, and at the same time, PL4G will work more directly with Grameen Creative Lab to have more support resources for the future iterations of the program. 

Social business or impact company, what’s the difference? 

Within BNP Paribas and in civil society, these two terms are often used to describe impact enterprises, NGOs or enterprises driven by the creation of a positive impact, but what exactly do they mean? According to Mr. Yunus's definitions and methodologies, a Social Business must aim for social and/or environmental impact as well as profit; but must also commit to reinvest all of its profits in the company in order to use its means to increase its environmental or social impact. The terms ‘impact companies’ or ‘impact entrepreneurship’ are, in fact, more flexible, with these entrepreneurs committing to reinvest at least 50% of their profits.

We are the bank of  impact companies in europe!

How does this partnership fit into BNP Paribas' policy supporting social business?

Our employees have succeeded in creating Social Business: to name a few, Tilia(Opens in a new tab) for those assisting the elderly or handicapped, OneStepForward (Opens in a new tab)for the integration of migrants and Just Institute(Opens in a new tab) for Inclusion and Biodiversity  it is also very important that impact companies receive the widest possible support from the Group. Programmes dedicated to this purpose already exist, notably in Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg, and above all, our ActforImpact programme in France. This programme welcomes impact entrepreneurs with a full 360 support in France, bringing together all the support services that we offer to impact companies: Financing, banking services, specific support from 265 bankers trained in issues facing impact entrepreneurs, as well as support for marketing and communication actions. We are the bank for impact companies in Europe!

Social Businesses in key figures  

€2bn

In support of more than 3,100 impact enterprises 

€333m

Dedicated to microfinance institutions in 2022 by the Group

The Financial Inclusion and Civil Society Relations team within the Company Engagement Department

 In charge of microfinance topics and more broadly the Group's relations with civil society, its members establish and deepen dialogue with public institutions, researchers, academics, think tanks and associations, such as our partnership with the Grameen Creative Lab, in order to develop mutual skills in sustainable finance.

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