3 min

Interview with Alain Boribon from the Citizenfund cooperative

Image de présentation de l'article Interview with Alain Boribon from the Citizenfund cooperative

Introduction: Alain Boribon is a serial entrepreneur committed to the transition to a more desirable world. In 2017, he co-founded the Citizenfund and has been fully dedicated to it ever since. Alain carries the Citizenfund with passion, patience and perseverance. His ability to generate 1000 ideas per minute is remarkable, and he always makes himself available to discuss and share the ins and outs of the Citizenfund. His dedication and enthusiasm make him a real driving force behind this inspiring initiative.

What is the Citizenfund?  

The Citizenfund is a cooperative and participatory investment fund that supports projects with a social or environmental purpose.

This fund stands out for its disruptive nature thanks to several characteristics:

  • It broadens its investment scope by introducing cultural or educational projects, prioritising social or environmental impact rather than financial profitability.

  • It adopts a participatory approach where investor-cooperators have the power to choose the projects supported

  • It aims to be transparent, accessible and non-elitist. With shares available at €50 for those under 26 and €250 for those over 26, the Citizenfund ensures that each member has one vote regardless of the number of shares held, thus promoting the democratisation of investment.

How did the Citizenfund come about?

The Citizenfund was created in 2017 following reflections on the direction of our company and discussions between social entrepreneurs facing financing difficulties. Traditional investors imposed conditions that were incompatible with the vision of the leaders of societal projects. The idea was therefore to create a "cooperative of cooperatives" investing in various social projects with a more modest return and in the longer term. This cooperative would act as one of the first investors in these projects, serving as a reference to facilitate further investments in the future.

What is the mission of the Citizenfund? 

The Citizenfund's mission is divided into three key objectives:

Financing the change : We support projects that contribute to the common good, both financially and in other aspects. When a project is integrated into the Citizenfund by decision of the cooperators, we become its ambassadors. We regularly communicate about our projects through our social networks, our newsletter, as well as at events and trade fairs in which we participate. In addition, we actively support projects in questioning/difficulty by organizing round tables with our cooperators to find ideas/solutions to the challenges encountered.

Changing finance : Transforming the financial sector paradigm by offering innovative solutions that address the challenges and shortcomings of traditional investment funds. Our ambition is to contribute to the evolution of society's global paradigm by promoting reconciliation with humans and promoting a more sober and sustainable way of life.

Inspire, raise awareness, educate and empower citizens for a regenerative economy and societal paradigm shift, while providing them with the necessary tools for action to engage them. This aims to demonstrate the importance of their voice and impact in building a sustainable and desirable future.

What role does the Citizenfund want to play?  

The Citizenfund aspires to be a pioneer in transforming the financial paradigm. Our goal is to prove that a form of finance that is truly focused on the common good is possible, while being transparent, accessible, democratic and participatory. We also aim to inspire a new societal paradigm and a different vision of life by encouraging commitment and collective responsibility for a desirable future.

How do you select which organizations are funded?  

The selection process for organisations funded by the Citizenfund is based on the collective intelligence of our cooperators and partners.

After evaluation by our operational team, the projects are submitted to our selection committee, composed of 2 elected cooperators, 2 thematic experts and 1 co-founder. This committee evaluates projects according to 5 key criteria: sustainable purpose, team investment, operation, ability to carry out and financial plan.

Then, the approved projects are presented at a validation evening where the cooperators can vote online. The final decision rests with the co-operator-investors.

A few figures to illustrate the Citizenfund and its impacts?  

Currently, the Citizenfund is located in two cities: Brussels and Charleroi, bringing together a total of 280 cooperators. To date, it has supported 30 societal projects in 17 different sectors. Due to the diversity of sectors and the variety of projects supported, it is complex to aggregate and standardize our impact. This is both quantitative and qualitative, manifested for example in the reduction of CO2 emissions, the smile on the faces of children using horse-drawn carriages to go to school, the amount of waste sorted, the raising of the level of general knowledge, the improvement of physical and mental health, and many other aspects.

What are the Citizenfund's medium-term ambitions (and/or biggest dreams)?  

The Citizenfund's medium-term ambitions are deeply inspired by the principles of permaculture and aim to establish a new financial and societal paradigm. We aspire to ensure that every citizen can take ownership of this tool for change and adapt it to their community, region or country. This approach aims at an optimal adaptation of funds to each territory, thus promoting a complete relocation of finance in a "glocal" way, i.e. both global and local. The different Citizenfunds will be interconnected to form a solid network benefiting from collective intelligence.

In addition, one of our main aspirations is to create "Citizenfund students" within Belgian universities. This innovative project aims to offer a different and enriched vision of sustainable finance to all students, regardless of their major. These student clubs will stand out from traditional investment clubs by offering responsibilities and missions related to impact investing. This includes the analysis of projects, participation in selection and voting committees, the monitoring of funded projects, as well as the organisation of thematic events or evenings, thus contributing to the formation of a new generation of conscious citizens engaged in the transition to a regenerative and solidarity-based economy.

A final word?  

In conclusion, another vision of finance is within reach: a citizen-driven, glocal, transparent, democratic, joyful and accessible finance for all. With initiatives like the Citizenfund, you have the opportunity to get actively involved in change. So, seize this opportunity and take your destiny into your own hands!


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