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Valoprest: "Let’s create jobs, let’s protect the environment…"

Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine - Florange
Access to employment

To confront the employment crisis affecting their region, two women created in 2000 the first integration company in the Lorraine region with an emphasis on sustainable development. A risky venture which turned out to be viable; it has already allowed 300 people to receive training in the areas of recycling and ecological cleaning and then to find a job.

10/07/2008

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When they launched Valoprest in 2000, Bernadette Festor and Elisabeth Parachini had no idea that ten years later they would be in charge of a company employing 60 people. And it was no wonder, since the two women knew very little about starting a business. They knew even less about waste sorting. Bernadette Festor recalls : "The Moselle Basin was hit very hard by the crisis in the steel industry. Working in the vocational training sector, we could no longer tolerate watching unskilled jobseekers completing endless rounds of work experience placements with very little possibility of professional redeployment at the end of it all." So the two women obtained Government approval to create their professional integration company. They offer sorting services to a subsidiary of the SUEZ Group at a household paper and plastic packaging sorting facility in Fameck, near Metz, where their employees work on a production line. This activity would soon be supplemented by the launch of a cleaning service based on the use of eco-friendly products, catering to private individuals as well as the region’s communities and companies.

A complete formation

Today, Valoprest has 45 integration people and 15 permanent positions, and most of its employees were recruited via the Pôle Emploi (Job Centre). "Our aim is to train as many people as possible. Within a maximum period of 24 months, we prepare them to get back on the road to employment in a normal company," says the manager. To help them, additional short courses (lasting a few days) are offered in areas such as safety, teamwork, and sustainable development. Rachid Benlaghdem, a young Algerian worker hired in 2009, was able to specialise. "After I had worked for five months on the sorting line and then in the glass department, I was given the opportunity to get my ‘platform’ permit so that I could operate the machine used to clean windows on high-rise buildings." Following this one-week training course financed by Valoprest, Rachid feels more confident about the future : "There is work available in the cleaning sector, and I have learnt so much here." The main thing is to create ‘a coherent path’, says B. Festor, who points out that close to 300 people were able to find lasting employment (temping jobs, fixed-term employment contracts, or open-ended employment contracts) after their time with the company. These are good results, but it should not be forgotten that this social assistance represents a significant cost. That is why the founders decided to diversify their activities by launching Valo’DDesign in 2008. This third branch is involved in the salvaging and sale of used objects.

Design devoted to sustainable development

"With Valo' DDesign, we are reinforcing our sustainable development approach by giving new life to waste items," explains B. Festor. "At the same time, we enhance the skills of our employees, who can specialise in more technical areas of woodworking and iron work." Tables, bookcases, chairs, and lamps are thus transformed into unique articles created from the waste supplied to Valo' by communities and companies. These include Actemium, a subsidiary of the VINCI Group, which provides services in the industrial and water sectors in Metz. Frank Handler, company director and sponsor of Valoprest since 2008, regularly contacts the workshop that the VINCI Foundation helped to fund : "When we dismantle installations, gearbox casings and engines, for example, can be salvaged." In his capacity as a sponsor, he takes advantage of his experience and his connections to promote Valo’DDesign’s activities : "I am full of admiration for people who embark on this type of project. We want to support them and help them grow, because their model is interesting. To do this, we must present them in as many large towns as possible, and provide good communication". And the message is getting through ! Several sales outlets have already been set up in Nancy and, more recently, in Paris.

October 2010 © Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

VINCI Foundation works with Reporters d'Espoirs, a French news agency, to highlight and share the innovative social initiatives that it supports. The arrangement includes the writing of articles and exchange on topics that lead to solutions. Thus presented, the initiatives, validated using the criteria of the editorial charter of Reporters d'Espoirs, are intended to demonstrate their development and results.