New city, same mission: On Purpose expands to Paris

The On Purpose Associate social enterprise leadership programme has launched in Paris following a successful five years based only in London.

Comparing delivering a social enterprise leadership programme in Paris with London, CEO Tom Rippin said that the process was similar but that he’d noticed particularly high levels of enthusiasm from young professionals over the channel.

“When you look at the French business schools and universities, there’s a high proportion which run social enterprise programmes or competitions, potentially more than in the UK,” he said.

The programme aims to help professionals from the private sector develop the experience, knowledge and networks they need to create positive social and environmental impact through business. 

It is one year long and involves four key components including; paid work placements in a diverse mix of organisations that deliver social impact, weekly training from professionals in the commercial and social sectors, an assigned mentor and networking opportunities with individuals working in social enterprise.

At the launch of the On Purpose Paris programme, founder of Groupe SOS, one of Europe’s biggest and most well established social enterprises, Jean-Marc Borello highlighted the high percentage of women leaders in social enterprise in France.

His comments reflect the experience of the sector in the UK, where 38% of social enterprises are led by women, in comparison with just 3% of the companies in the FTSE100. 

At the UnLtd Big Social earlier this year CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation Monique Villa said: “91% of social ventures have at least one woman on their leadership team. In my view we are not speaking about CSR promoting gender equality, we are witnessing a big global shift.” 

Rippin told Pioneers Post that he'd noticed an increase in the number of women taking part in the On Purpose social enterprise leadership programme over the past five years.

He said: “In the first two to three years that the UK programme has been running there was around a 50:50 women to men ratio, but in the past couple of years the cohorts of Associates have been made up of around two thirds women.”

In the first cohort of Associates in Paris Rippin explained there was also a strong female presence and that he expected future programmes to follow a similar pattern to those run in London.

Some argue there should be more social entrepreneurial support aimed specifically at women. Rippin said that while his team take gender into account when allocating mentors, "it was certainly not the only consideration or the top one".

"We’re mostly thinking about who might have similar experience or similar careers," he said.

Following the successful launch of the Associate programme in the French capital, the On Purpose team are now setting their sights elsewhere.

Rippin said that he was currently looking at another location in Europe and wouldn’t exclude “taking the model to other parts of the world”, but that “significant changes would need to be made to the model to try and make it work in somewhere like India or Africa”. 

He continued: “As well as replicating geographically, we’re also thinking about other audiences we could adapt the programme for; for example those in more senior positions who are at the point in their career where they could transition over and become a leader of a social enterprise quickly.”



Applications for the next UK On Purpose Associate leadership programme, which starts in October 2015, are now open and close on 11th May. Click here to find out more.

Header photo: On Purpose Associate leadership programme launch in Paris