Alain Mérieux put as much energy into trying to eradicate the scourge of the homeless in the Lyon metropolitan area as he put into his businesses. With a convincing result. He succeeded in creating a very effective bridge of solidarity between the business world and associations working in the field. A response to the drift of financial capitalism by giving meaning to the hundred companies now behind the Mérieux banner. With a real possibility of success …
Like another Lyonnais, Abbé Pierre, but as far as he is concerned in front of an audience of 2,000 business leaders gathered in January 2019 during the Company Day of the CPME, Halle Tony Garnier, Alain Mérieux had launched a call to the bosses of SMEs and VSEs present to support it aiming, an apparently insurmountable objective, to eradicate in Lyon the great precariousness within the Lyon metropolitan area.
Where are we almost three years later?
Well, according to its general delegate, Patrick Lepagneul, l’Entreprise des Possibles, the association created for this purpose by Alain Mérieux, is now in full swing. It is even, according to him, in the process of reaching the critical size that will allow it to achieve its objectives.
To the 3,000 homeless people supported since its creation, should be added next year, 2,000 more.
Most recent: Institut Paul Bocuse
This critical size has been reached because the Entreprise des Possibles has just acquired its hundredth member company: the Institut Paul Bocuse. A doubling in one year.
“This dynamic allows us, with our partner associations, to bring out structuring and long-term projects essential to come to the aid of the homeless and which, by their innovative character, meet needs that are currently unsatisfied”, according to the report. assessment drawn by Alain Mérieux himself.
For him, the great success of the concept he set up is that “our movement is accompanied by a decompartmentalization between the economic, associative and public worlds, with the deployment of multi-actor projects which mobilize all the driving forces of the metropolis. “
The big boss of Lyon has succeeded in ensuring that the business world, including employees, has succeeded in connecting with the associative world.
Actors or academics as well-known as Olympique Lyonnais, UCLy, EMLyon business school, Holding Textile Hermès and many others have joined the movement.
Paid vacation donations
The mobilization of employees of member companies through the donation of paid vacation passed the symbolic milestone of one million euros in 2021. This has enabled the association’s resources to be almost doubled in one year.
A total of 2.5 million euros have been devoted to projects in the field since the creation of the Entreprise des Possibles in early 2019. And for the year 2022 alone, 1.1 million euros will be allocated to 18 new projects.
Thus in 2022, these new projects will help 2,000 additional people, among whom 400 will find a home.
These announced projects target the priority audiences of the Entreprise des Possibles: women in the street with or without children and young people in great precariousness. Needs today very poorly covered.
L’Entreprise des Possibles has also chosen to work with other audiences such as the marginalized.
For all of these homeless people, it is about shelter and accommodation, but also in a more global approach, support for social and professional integration, access to care, support for parenthood, nutrition and prevention of the passage to the streets of young people.
One example among others put in place by the structure launched by Alain Mérieux: “the Halte des Femmes” which provides a response to a social scandal. Today, nearly 100 women leave maternity homes each year without a housing solution in the Lyon metropolitan area and have to live with their newborns with precarious solutions, sometimes even in the street.
The Halte des Femmes, a project co-led with the Alynea association, has made it possible since November 2021 to welcome these women before or after their childbirth, to offer them a secure home and appropriate support.
Often socially innovative projects
To plug the holes in the social racket, and there are many, the Entreprise des Possibles, thanks to its flexibility of operation, has succeeded in implementing innovative solutions which, without it, would not have seen the light of day.
In his last work devoted to the crisis of capitalism, the Chief Economist of Bank Natexis, Patrick Artus, not really labeled a revolutionary … castigated the lack of meaning of said capitalism, its propensity to increase inequalities, to destroy the environment, believing that without deep questioning, he was running to his doom.
Alain Mérieux’s action contributes to this rehabilitation of capitalism by giving back a meaning to the societal role of the company, well forgotten in the past decades, but it is true that it has been put back in the saddle in recent years by the arrival in the entrepreneurial landscape of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).
It remains to be seen whether the Mérieux social revolution will emulate other cities, other metropolises …
Photo-Alain Mérieux at the launch of the Entreprise des Possibles in January 2019.