On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ of the Banque Populaire Foundation, Groupe BPCE interviewed one of the winners
Where did this project to open a bookshop come from?
I've always loved reading. I think that, because of my visual handicap, reading allowed me to “see” the world, to understand it, to feel it, to complete the “fuzzy” vision I had with precise descriptions of landscapes and physical interactions between beings. Literature has played this role for me, that of the appropriation of space and bodies.
My project to create a bookshop comes from the fact that I realized very early on that if I wanted to live from my passion, reading, I had to make it compatible with an entry into working life. I come from a working class background and I am not used to frequenting bookshops, only libraries, and when I learned of the existence of this profession I immediately wanted to try it. So I did several internships and quickly realized that I liked it, the contact and exchanges with customers, but I also appreciated that it would be difficult for me to work in too large a structure because they are not very well adapted to my disability. So I immediately decided to give myself the financial means and know-how to achieve this dream.
How did you discover the Banque Populaire Corporate Foundation?
I first encountered the Banque Populaire Corporate Foundation in 2003 when I was in the midst of my first creative project, I was living at that time in Marseille and planning to open a bookshop there, but this was only the beginning of my efforts and, pending further developments, I found training as a bookseller in Nantes and then, in the process, a job in a cultural and tourist structure – “les machines de l'ile” – where I created the Bookstore section of the shop in this tourist venue.
Eight years later, I felt ready to fly on my own and it was at that moment, when I examined my funding application file, that I discovered the documents about the Foundation! I immediately contacted Martine Tremblay, Director of the Foundation, who supported me in my efforts!
How did your relationship with the Foundation go?
My project was immediately very well received and accompanied by Martine Tremblay, who advised me to gather all the documents, not to forget anything and to respect the deadlines for submitting the file. The contact was very enriching as the members of the panel and the President of the Foundation came to the bookstore for the presentation of the prize. It was a very moving and important moment and above all extremely warm-hearted! There is a real desire on the part of the panel members to support the work of people with disabilities who are willing to do business.
It was also very enriching thanks to the fact of being accompanied by a press officer and being able to access different media (the Vivre FM, France Inter radio stations). We feel valued and strong thanks to this public visibility.
What has the Banque Populaire Corporate Foundation brought you?
The Foundation has given me a form of self-confidence! It taught me to formulate the question of disability in public (through the video that was made to explain the project), to be proud of the work I was able to do, and to feel legitimate in the world of entrepreneurship! The Foundation, through its financial and human support, creates a sort of cocoon around disability, a stimulating and rewarding cocoon. This support made me want to talk more about disability in the media.
What have you learned from this experience with the Foundation?
I hope that project leaders with a disability will enjoy the support provided by the Foundation! I have obtained a lot of energy and a financial boost from it, which allows me to consider a part-time job in addition to the permanent employment already secured, partly thanks to the Foundation's help. It is an essential support that makes you want to make even greater progress! This experience with the Foundation has allowed me to believe in myself. I will tell people with projects to never give up and believe in their dreams!
For more information: website of the bookshop, La vie devant soi
For more information about the Banque Populaire Corporate Foundation: Click here