The Challenge

Observations :

  • Planning an implementation strategy, creating a robust economic model and determining support needs is a complex exercise for organisations developing high social impact models.
  • It takes a consortium for the support staff to effectively address project leaders’ need for specialised expertise, in order to properly articulate consulting, research and funding needs.
  • Securing their support for such projects is not easy for funders / investors alone. It takes an ecosystem of partners to foster and ensure the deployment of social initiatives at national level.

Feedback from the past ten years has shown that these stakeholders would all benefit from a joint collaboration, since adequate solutions need to be created every time. There is no one-size-fit-all solutions to support social innovators and address the specific needs of each one.

Three major challenges to be met :

  • Invent a replicable but customisable process to support projects;
  • Gather experts who are not used to working together, bringing together of thematic knowledges, professional skills and strategic insights ;
  • Incentivize everyone to be commited and to build together.

Investors, support operators (consultants, action-oriented researchers…) and project leaders must all get involved. The programme incentivizes the latter to be truly actors of the success of their own coaching, rather than being passive “beneficiaries”, while sharing the financial weight of support missions.

The Practice

Key phases in developing the programme:

  • Bring together complementary actors who have a shared desire to build together;
  • Establish trust ;
  • Carry out “proofs of concept »;
  • Launch the support programme ;

The preparatory work has allowed the association to be fully operationnal as of 2021.

The practice of collaboration:

Structures from the social and solidarity economy apply to the Fonds i with a defined need for support. If the Fond i confirms the eligibility of the structure, a support programme as well as a set of success indicators are jointly developped by the Fonds i, the structure, the advisory staff, and the investors. The structures finance the programme implementation through a repayable advance which terms are determined by co-constructed success indicators. The Fonds I then identifies necessary competences and expertise, mobilizes them, and supervise the intervention of the various operators involved in this in-depth and multidimentional process, which can span over more than a year.

All the stakeholders bring valuable skills to the Fonds i association. On the one hand, the funders structure and steer projects while also getting involved in their development. On the other hand, the support operators participate by providing paid expertise at negotiated cost .

The roles were fine-tuned during the project design phase and formalized on April 1, 2021. The initiators’ roles are set out in the association’s statutes and the operators’ roles in a partnership agreement.

The clear definition of stakeholders’ role is essential to the programme for it ensures its smooth and efficient implementation, and make sure each stakeholder benefits from its participation.


By mid-2021, 10 structures have already been or are currently being supported, 6 experts from the councils have participated to the programme, and 1 sponsor finances a part of the programme he wishes to support.

Wimoov was one of the programme’s beneficiaries in 2020. Wimoov’s met its 2021 success indicators by obtaining significant results:

  • A contract with Pôle Emploi in 35 French regions to implement the mobility assessment;
  • A governement contract delegating the operation of some public transport services to Wimoov;
  • Acknowledgment of the ‘mobility barometer’ as a tool for detecting precarious mobility;
  • A high impact contract promising new financial solutions.

Insights / Advice to Peers

  • A structuring of the project initiated by a first circle of investors with the support of a first operator, the Avise, to build up confidence on the basis of concrete achievements;
  • A step-by-step construction process with an incremental involvement of stakeholders (coaches, funders, supported structures, prescribers, etc.) within the different circles;
  • Reexamining the concept of repayable advances to better address the structures’ financial tensions;
  • No communication before the first results are effective.

Further Resources


Marielle Del’homme, chef de file, Association Fonds i,