The 2012/10/11 at 08:00
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris (CCIP) is taking its turn to develop the Réseau Plato project, already in place in various other territories in Europe, aiming to give enterprises the keys to accelerated growth. Based on mentorship, this system has a two-way goal: firstly, to eliminate the isolation of certain company heads and to enrich their networks, via meetings and the establishment of enduring links for projects; secondly, to break new ground in improving efficiency by optimising company management. The initiative targets enterprises that have been in existence for several years already. According to Carole Ryckewaert, Business Network and Club Project Manager at the CCIP, “participants in this initiative are structures wishing to continue their activities in networks and to benefit from collective support in order to progress and ensure their growth”.
The Chamber launched this system in May 2012. The Institut Français des Administrateurs (IFA or French Institute of Administrators) recently adhered to the project, offering to bring its expertise in governance to VSE and SME heads. Set up in 1988 in Belgium, the Plato support network has gradually spread all over Europe. Today, it has many branches and gathers a total of almost 8,500 SMEs and 800 large companies. The extension of the project to Paris has already roused great interest. According to data from INSEE (French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies), there are almost 69,000 VSEs and SMEs in the French capital – all companies with potential interest in the network.
The programme aims to promote exchange and experience-sharing between company heads. Its methodology is based on the creation of a number of groups comprising 15 VSEs-SMEs, invited to progress according to a two-year-long programme consisting in interventions from experts, tips from executives representing major companies set up in Paris, testimonies from entrepreneurs, and action plans. Networking evenings gathering companies, groups and partners supporting the operation, and experts, are organised to strengthen relationships. All topics relating to growth are tackled, such as trade development, international expansion, human resources policy, management, governance, access to financing… The IFA has joined forces to this initiative by contributing, on top of its expertise in the best governance practices, the strength of its network of administrators and professionals comprising over 3,000 members.
To date, the network gathers around sixty VSEs and SMEs. A minimum of three years of activity and turnover upward of 200,000 euros are generally required to join in the project. This is therefore a place for the heads of modest structures to find concrete answers to their daily preoccupations, help in performance improvement, and guidance in the steps towards better managerial quality. It should be noted that this collective support system in the context of a mid-term programme is not the only form of support provided by the Réseau Plato Paris. Individual support is also organised for enterprises if they so wish.
The first results of the initiative are somewhat encouraging. The territory covering the urban area of Val de Seine, in the Île-de-France region, had already introduced this system a few years ago, benefitting 62 SMEs supported by 13 mentor companies. In terms of trade relations and cooperation development, 70 % of members formed inter-enterprise relationships. 66 % of companies established contacts with suppliers and 62 % took advantage of this experience to create ties with new clients. 24 % also pooled their resources. Data analysis has also highlighted significant impact on the profits of member companies. The improvement of performance in human resources management has been confirmed by 76 % of the businesses while 50 % have experienced growth in their turnovers, 48 % have noted an improvement in the quality of their products, 39 % have increased their profit margins, and 23 % have progressed in productivity.