To ensure that health promoting services are future-proof and are able to respond to the challenges and potential new crises in the next 20, 30, or 50 years, we need tools that will raise finance that support long-term investment and returns. An idea that holds promise is a finance label that provides dedicated support for equitable health promoting services and programmes. The label indicates to investors that any funds invested are secure and go towards supporting public services.
Through the label, the individual investor knows that all of their invested capital or a certain proportion – depending on the type of fund – serves directly or indirectly to finance programmes, services, or organisations that lead to improved health and wellbeing for all. They are focused on issues such as access to support services, physical activity initiatives, education programmes, cooking or life skill classes but can also encompass jobs or housing, clean energy and organic food production, fair trade or even small business development.
Solutions that address these investment gaps and address the underlying causes of health inequalities can be found in different areas of action with positive social impacts. One possible outcome is for health promoting services across cities, regions, municipalities or countries to team up to create their own label. An example of this endeavour is the Finansol Label. Developed to spark collaboration between financial institutions and solidarity-based enterprises addressing a social and environmental challenge. The Finansol Label effectively manages to support equitable projects and investments.
It is important to remember that the core values and outcomes of health promoting systems (including quality, efficacy, equity and affordability) are assets for potential investors as much as for governments and citizens. There is a clear need to safeguard services and vulnerable people from the vagaries of unscrupulous investors and free market economics.
Solidarity-based finance is a concept that satisfies the solidarity desires of the individual savers and the financing needs of the solidarity-based enterprises, non-profits, and other beneficiary organisations with a social and/or environmental impact. Ethical banks, solidarity-based investment funds and others act as intermediaries between these savers, by proposing traditional investment vehicles (savings and life insurance accounts, investment funds, etc.) to which solidarity mechanisms have been incorporated.
The Finansol label was introduced in 1997 to offer a guarantee of confidence to the savers and investors from an external third-party, to distinguish a solidarity-based investment from other savings products, and to benefit from the association’s collective support.
In 1997, the Finansol label was introduced in order to identify the various solidarity-based financing vehicles available in France through intermediaries, such as those offered by banks, investment funds, insurance companies, mutual funds and employee savings accounts. Largely based on transparency and solidarity criteria, as well as various management aspects, the label provides security for solidarity-oriented investors that the assets they place through intermediaries will indeed serve to finance projects with strong social and environmental impacts.
In 2018, the Finansol label was awarded to more than 160 recipients, such as the VITAMINE T Group, a holding company whose subsidiaries promote inclusive policies and work reintegration activities for men and women who have been removed from the labour market for a long period of time (long-term unemployed, recently out of prison, youth with little to no work experience, etc). With 12 businesses and 2,800 employees (1,800 of whom are involved in work reintegration activities) and an annual turnover of 50 M€, VITAMINE T is the leader in its field in France. Industries in which the Group operates include: organic farming, creation and maintenance of public spaces, environmentally friendly transportation, and recycling of household electronic waste.
The label was also awarded to Entreprendre pour Humaniser la Dépendance (EHD). EHD is a network of shelters that provide a safe haven and care for those in need, by renovating buildings intended to house older persons with very low-income levels who are no longer self-sufficient (often with physical, mental or social handicaps). This solidarity-based enterprise subsidises rental prices, provides temporary housing options for those in transitional contexts, and arranges permanent housing options in institutions with strong healthcare facilities for those in need of constant attention.
Over the years, several pieces of legislation have emerged to create a better environment for solidarity-based saving in France. For instance, in 2001 and in 2008, public authorities passed regulations requiring companies to propose at least one solidarity fund among their employee saving schemes, creating the funds called “90-10 funds” because they are characterised by the obligation to invest between 5 and 10 % of the fund’s assets in social companies.
As a consequence of this environment – as well as the dynamism and innovative capacity of the solidarity-based finance actors – solidarity-based funds have continued growing. By the end of 2017, they represented over 2.4 million solidarity-based savings products subscribed by private individual investors and institutional investors with 11.5 B€ solidarity-based total assets in France only.