SSE Step pioneer’s business jumped 35%

“Most of all, I am satisfied that I was able to keep the project afloat despite the turmoil.” Kenny Bertonazzi, Managing Director step (Tertiary Services to Companies in the Pyrenees) in Pau (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) makes no secret of this: running a social inclusion company is not always an easy task. Even twenty years later, because this pioneer of the social and solidarity economy (ESS) in New Aquitaine is celebrating its anniversary this year with a new logo. And just as much desire to offer work to people who are far from the business world, first from one disadvantaged district of Pau, and now from the entire metropolis, where five more integration structures operate.

Two new activities

The move began with the document processing service, still the most important, accounting for 41% of activity. Grouped under the name “Fabrique du numérique paloise” in partnership with the Simplon School, digital careers training is currently provided to the fourth edition of 60 students of different backgrounds and levels and represents 30% of income. And the two most recent activities, on-site services – urban logistics and concierge services for companies – such as a development studio and an IT maintenance workshop, account for 25% and 4%, respectively. But they are growing the fastest and explain why Kenny Bertonazzi expects sales to grow by 35% this year!

Step also has a computer service shop (Credits: Step).

The CEO is preparing to expand the space at Helioparc Technopole to be able to rent. “By the end of 2021, we should be about fifty,” indicates the leader, who also counts the number of integration positions created, totaling 200 since 2001.. “Our mission is complex: I often say that not because we master the code, we master the codes of the company”explains the one who is also a Po city deputy in charge of the social and solidarity economy and a former president of the national federation of integration companies.

Cheerful context

These integration companies, numbering almost 4,000 in France, have never felt such a wind at their backs. In 2019, the government increased the budget for integration through economic activity (IAE), allocating one billion euros annually for this. And this is in order to be able to go from about 140,000 people admitted in 2018 to 240,000 people in 2022. In early November, the federation of integration companies also welcomed the commitment to inclusive public procurement – social issues must be taken into account. in public procurement and concession contracts, included in the Climate Law, which was passed in May last year. “There is a law and ambitions, it remains only to bring them to life”federation calls.

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If the inclusive social order concerns primarily construction, and not Styop’s activities, then this is indeed a reflection of the change of time. In the social but also in the environmental field, which Step wants to continue in the coming years, for example by creating a bio-waste recycling activity. “Compared to traditional companies, our inclusive goal undoubtedly encourages us to be more courageous”notes the CEO. But with the same commitment to profitability that STEP achieved back in 2020, and operating like any other company. “Our private customers, including Schenker, Aubert&Duval and, for twenty years now, Total, as well as government customers, value our quality of service at a competitive price. They make up 93% of our income, and only 7% comes from government assistance.”

A model different from that of FMS in Saint-Geor-de-Maremnes (Landes), where three-quarters of the staff, all on permanent contracts, are disabled. Or Api Upp, an association from Capbreton (Landes) that also makes a business of furniture manufacturing in its assembly shop. But both, like Step, are growing strongly. “It is good that there are companies like ours, but this is not enough. We can no longer produce without connection to the territory. Everyone should contribute, the site is so huge”– emphasizes Kenny Bertonazzi.

At Cap Ecologia, Suez and Pau are building an ambitious circular energy project.