- Sylvain Couthier, President of ATF Gaia, named Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 for France
- Learn more about the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship at www.schwabfound.org
Geneva, Switzerland, 4 February 2015 – The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, a sister organization of the World Economic Forum, in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group, chose Sylvain Couthier, President of ATF Gaia, as the winner of the Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 for France. He was presented with his award in Paris at a high-level celebration, in the presence of Hilde Schwab, Co-Founder and Chairperson of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, and Frédéric Oudéa, General Director of Société Générale.
A total of 9 million people in France consider themselves at least partly disabled. The government officially recognizes over 2.7 million of them, granting employment rights to 1.8 million individuals thanks to the adoption of new laws and policies. Unfortunately, major inequalities are still present in the system. People with disabilities often earn lower wages, are more likely to be unemployed and have limited access to training compared to the rest of the population. It appears clear that disabilities have a strong impact not only on the health of those that have to live with them, but also on their employment status. Promoting fair access to job opportunities therefore remains key to addressing social inequalities linked to disabilities.
ATF Gaia is an adapted enterprise and over 80% of its employees are people with disabilities. It offers technical assistance and IT services to businesses, and buys used IT and telecom equipment for reconditioning and reselling. It is also an authorized Microsoft refurbishing centre and, when the equipment cannot be resold, it recycles it through a network of approved partners.
Couthier began his career as a sales engineer at Computer Associates, a large software development company. After a varied career, he moved to ATF Gaia, where he worked as a sales representative before rising through the ranks and becoming president of the enterprise. Since then he has received multiple recognitions, including the 2013 EY Entrepreneur of the Year award for social engagement. Couthier will be invited to join the Schwab Foundation’s global community of over 300 social innovators.
Social Entrepreneurs are driven by their mission to create substantial social change and promote inclusive growth, developing new products and service models that benefit underserved communities.
The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship. It engages with business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is independent, impartial and not tied to any interests. It cooperates closely with all leading international organizations (www.weforum.org).