Time flies … SIREAS will be 60 next year, ATEB (Association of corporate treasurers in Belgium) which I started with several friends in 1991 is now 30, EMMI was founded in 1999 which makes it 22 years old, microStart just celebrated its 10 years and NewB was created in 2011, as was Alumni Europae, so 10 years of age as well.….. I‘ve been working in the social economy sector for almost 10 years now and on February 7, 2022 I’ll be 65, the retirement age.
Hey Olivier, does that mean that you are going to quit everything and retire to your wonderful house Les Cèdres in the Dordogne ?
No it doesn’t! First off, I very much enjoy what I do and I think I am useful here in Brussels. Second, most of our friends and family live here in Belgium. And what would I do without you, my friends? It is great that we can meet again in person, sharing a bite and a glass of wine, I’ve terribly missed seeing you over the past almost two years. So we have a lot of catching up to do 😊 😊 😊. We are also back to our winter schedule of tennis, 2 hours of mixed doubles on Sundays and another slot on Thursdays. And singing, of course! We were at last able to sing the Mozart Requiem which had been due in September 2020. We have performed it three times already in concert with excellent soloists and professional musicians, much appreciated by the audience. Our next performance will be on December 7 at the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles. Here is the link in case your are interested and want to hear and see us if you are in Brussels (http://www.conservatoire.be/evenements/requiem-de-mozart-concert-theatral.html.)
Very well Olivier, but where are you at with all those activities of yours? Actually, everything continued as best as possible, given the circumstances. Some field-based organisations suffered quite a bit from not being able to hold in person meetings. It must be said that the government has provided a lot of support to vulnerable people here and donations to organisations helping those most in need have gone through the roof. We’ll see how the situation evolves once this kind of aid is no longer available.
microStart commissioned another impact study following the one of 2017 which had demonstrated that 1€ invested in the work of microStart generated 4€ of financial social impact: an unemployed person turned entrepreneur no longer receives unemployment benefits, pays VAT and tax and recruits other people, often equally jobless before. This impact was affected by the COVID pandemic but still amounts to 2.53€ ! Bearing in mind the conditions this is really very good, so congrats to the staff and volunteers who continued to reach out mainly to entrepreneurs at risk (www.microstart.be). SIREAS also pursued its work in favour of vulnerable people under difficult conditions, obviously. Again, congratulations to the teams devoted to training, legal and social aid to migrants and continued vocational training in the field. By the way, we are looking for people who are willing to help overcome this difficult period as members of the Board (www.sireas.be). NewB continues to spread its wings in the sector; step by step we are providing ever more services. If you haven’t done so yet and if you live in Belgium, open an account at NewB! (www.newb.coop). As to the non for profit organisation APO.G we unfortunately had to take the difficult decision to end its life; the entrepreneurs who were members had to focus on their core activities and the consultants had trouble finding sufficiently attractive topics to be discussed, quite apart from the fact that everything had to happen online, too much to ask after a busy work day spent in front of a screen. But we did celebrate the end with a party and decided to stay in touch. The only organisation which actually almost benefitted from the situation is Alumni Europae! We managed to hold meetings with the participation of alumni from California, Latin America and Australia, and the number of members has increased: more than 5.300 alumni are enrolled on the site www.alumnieuropae.org ! European Money Markets Institute (www.emmi-benchmarks.eu) did a lot of work to enhance its image by overhauling its website and also by consolidating its activities, naturally. There again the team has made huge efforts to manage the organisation in these difficult times. Thank you for that! My mandate as Board member has been extended for another 4 years. The work done by Emergency was equally hard hit by COVID. Despite this, thanks to a tremendous effort by Giulia, our person in charge of volunteers, the number of volunteers has gone up quite considerably (www.emergencybe.org). The founder of the organisation, Gino Strada, passed away not long ago. So sad!
Just now I was contacted by a wonderful organisation, Abbeyfield, which promotes grouped accommodation throughout Belgium. Ten houses exist already, for between 9 and 18 inhabitants who have decided to live together, every person having their private premises and numerous opportunities for sharing things! The umbrella structure, Abbeyfield Belgium, is also looking for Board Members to continue promoting this concept of the future (www.Abbeyfield.be).
Finally, let me also mention that we would be happy to welcome people wishing to share our adventure at Les Cèdres, our large house in the Dordogne which I have described in great detail in my previous newsletters (www.olivierbrissaud.info).