Social innovation

What is a social innovation? It is addressing a social issue in the fields of employment, environment or housing and adapting to the changes and evolutions of our society in order to find solutions to the social needs of our times. It is responding to social issues whilst allowing the community to make significant savings.     

Innovative, for nearly 30 years

For over 30 years, GROUPE SOS has been developing numerous social innovations. Here are some concrete examples :

  • Educative day-care services

Accommodating, protecting, counselling and guiding vulnerable children and their parents and putting suitable educational solutions within their reach.

This solution allows 6 children out of 10 to avoid being placed in foster care which is three times more expensive and often ill-adapted. 

  • “Moving towards the job”

Transport services developed by Wimoov  to facilitate jobseekers in getting around.

1 euro invested in this project saves 6 euros of public spending.

  • The digital solidarity safe

Assisting the homeless by providing a digital safe in which their official documents can be safely stored.

Transitional housing

Offering lodgings to marginalized persons in need of stability and a place adapted to their case histories.

This solution is two times less expensive than ordinary housing centres.

  • Temporary housing in the private rented sector

Allowing families to be housed for an average of 18 months until a permanent housing solution can be found.

GROUPE SOS currently administers 550 apartments. As an alternative to the more costly social hostels and reception centres, these apartments allow significant savings to be made. With 5.000 apartments, these savings would amount to approximately 55 million euros.

Quantifying the impact of social entrepreneurship, Mc Kinsey, 2012

  • Inter-generational lodgings

Acting as a go-between for young people looking for accommodation and elder people either in need of company or of an additional income.

  • Beds in Healthcare day centres

Providing nursing and lodgings to the homeless.

These four centres administered by GROUPE SOS are an alternative to ill-adapted emergency services and create a saving of 10 million euros per year.

Quantifying the impact of social entrepreneurship, Mc Kinsey, 2012

  • Therapeutic coordination houses

Housing and assistance for persons suffering from chronic and disabling pathologies (cancer, neurological diseases, HIV/AIDS, etc.) and the socially excluded. These structures provide healthcare coordination, medicinal follow-up,  social and professional integration.

  • Therapeutic communities

Housing, treatment and assistance to persons suffering from long-term addictions.

  • Sleep Inn

Providing emergency medicated lodgings to destitute addicted persons. After having stayed in a Sleep Inn, 80% of those assisted undertake a programme of treatment.

  • Checkpoint

The first HIV/AIDS rapid screening centre in Paris within a medicalized structure, which is administered by professionals.

Social Novation

In order to ensure optimal support, GROUPE SOS must be able to assess the new issues of our society and adapt its responses to the identified evolutions. This fact encouraged GROUPE SOS to launch the Social Novation programme.

The expertise in social issues and the variety of the fields of intervention make the 350 structures of GROUPE SOS a remarkable field of investigation for social need. Through the Social Novation programme, GROUPE SOS intends to mobilize its capacity for innovation and its know-how in order to identify unaddressed needs.

The Social Novation programme was deployed following a logic of continuous improvement of the services provided to our users, especially to specific publics, whose needs are often poorly known. Its purpose is to rationalize the information collection process internally in order to identify the social needs at the source, and then facilitate the emergence of appropriate solutions, whilst providing every initiative within the appropriate time framework for developing an innovation.

AN EMPIRICAL APPROACH, based on the real needs of our society, as identified “in the field” within the structures of GROUPE SOS.

A CROSS-CUTTING LOGIC. It is from the encounter of diverse approaches that innovation arises. The Social Novation programme aims at facilitating exchanges between professionals in different fields of intervention, within or outside GROUPE SOS, through the organization of multidisciplinary working groups.

AN « OPEN SOURCE » INITIATIVE.  When aiming at maximizing impact, it seems essential to let the different parties involved (associations, public authorities, partners…) appropriate the whole process and its outcomes, and contribute to its deployment. This programme therefore opens its doors to external contributors, and plans for an important information campaign targeting  a set of association and social organization leaders as well as public decision-makers.

INTEGRATING THE ECONOMIC DIMENSION. In order to be sustainable, and financially viable, an innovation must allow significant savings to be made for the community. This pragmatic logic has taken precedence over all other considerations concerning this programme.

The work of the Social Novation programme will lead to the publication of a white paper on social innovation listing all of the solutions that have been conceived. These works will be made public during a large-scale event, a highlight of the communication programme of GROUPE SOS, whose purpose will be to share and gain support for the development of the recommended innovative solutions.

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Frédéric Bailly
Board member
CEO International Action | Real Estate

Kevin Goldberg
Executive Director - GROUPE SOS International Action


Acrobat PDF GROUPE SOS booklet