Christophe Chevalier

Organization: 
Groupe Archer
Year founded: 
1987
Country: 
France

Groupe Archer fights unemployment and boosts local economies by partnering with companies planning to relocate from the region and by taking over part of their production.

Focus: Unemployment
Geographic Area of Impact: France
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 1,264 (2010)
Annual Budget: US$ 6.9 million (2010)
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, France, 2011

Background
To reduce costs, many companies are relocating certain or all parts of a business abroad. This phenomenon generates critical gaps in local economies, exacerbates the already severe unemployment rate and allows decades of acquired know-how to go to waste.

Innovation and Activities
Christophe Chevalier has created a new business model by convincing companies in the process of relocating to leave behind parts of their production chain. These parts are then administered and organized in partnerships with local businesses and civil society representatives.
In the town of Romans, for instance, in which the shoe industry was threatened, he took over the production lines of two established French brands, Jourdan and Kélian. Chevalier went knocking on the doors of retired craftsmen to ensure their know-how was not lost and he hired some of the employees who had been fired. Subsequently, the Groupe Archer succeeded in launching its own brand, Made in Romans, which sells 4,500 pairs of ethically manufactured shoes in the region annually.
In 2005, Chevalier created a holding group in order to coordinate the many activities and to strengthen partnerships. This transformed Group Archer into a Centre for Economic Cooperation. The Centre has two main objectives: to support and create new economic activities at the individual or collective level and to develop local human resources. Today, Archer's Territorial Centre of Economic Cooperation is the largest employer in the northern Drôme region of France.

The Entrepreneur
As a native of the region of Drôme, Christophe Chevalier grew up in a hostel for young immigrants, managed by his father. As a result, he has always been aware of social and economical challenges in France.

He chose a social career and trained as a youth social worker. His passion for numbers prompted him to obtain a Masters in Management in parallel. In his first job, he worked as a youth worker for the DDASS (the regional social services department) and for the PJJ (Legal Protection for Youth). In 1988, Christophe Chevalier completed his civil service at Archer and in 1991, at the age of 26, was appointed as Managing Director of the organization.