How this French entrepreneur built the world's largest social enterprise


Started and currently headed by 59-year-old Jean-Marc Borello, Social and Solidarity Economy Group (Groupe SOS) is perhaps the world’s largest social enterprise. Grouped into the single structure, Jean-Marc and his leadership team head over 400 establishments, mostly self-financed companies and associations.

Image : Liberation

Started in 1984, Groupe SOS currently employs over 15,000 people and impacts the lives of over a million people across 35 countries, the Groupe SOS website reports. These standalone establishments are mainly focused on sectors such as education, health, housing, employment, youth, and senior citizens.

Often called the 'Bill Gates of the Social Sector', when Jean-Marc, a soldier's son, started Groupe SOS in 1984, it was the only organisation that worked against the problem of drug abuse in France. He started catering to the needs of drug addicts, who were often suffering from HIV, and opened several testing centres across the country. Eventually, he entered the health sector in a big way and started hospitals and retirement homes.

Small steps have helped him get to where he is, with Groupe SOS spreading its wings across the globe. Speaking of the tremendous growth the social enterprise has witnessed, Jean-Marc's closest associate Nicolas Hazard told Liberation, "Jean-Marc has used perhaps not a strategy to build for 20 years, but he has the flair and knows how to seize opportunities."

The social enterprise currently has a turnover of over €600 million. Jean-Marc plans to retire after the group's turnover crosses a billion euros in revenues.

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