A look back at the 6th European Microfinance Research Conference
On 3rd, 4th and 5th June, Paris Dauphine University, the Institute for Research in Development (IRD) and Montpellier Business School had the honour of hosting and organizing in cooperation with The European Microfinance Platform (e- MFP) and the European Centre for Research and Microfinance (CERMi) the 6th European Microfinance Research Conference, bringing together 130 experts from all over the world.
Researchers and Professionals gathered to discuss the following issue: “New tools, new actors: goals, values and beneficiaries” in Microfinance. Anastasia COZARENCO, Research Professor and MBS Chair in Microfinance in Developed Countries, explains: “When we think about microfinance and micro-credit, we think first of all about developing countries.
“However, we can now see that these mechanisms, combined with the industrialization and increasing use of new technologies, have certainly promoted the financial inclusion of previously isolated areas and populations, but also created new risks such as the exploitation of individuals’ personal data for commercial purposes. Does Microfinance still aim to promote the financial inclusion of marginalized populations or turn these populations into new consumers? “
The purpose of these three days of round tables, debates and workshops was not necessarily to build an immediate response to these questions, but to encourage researchers and professionals to question the meaning of their research and practices, and to foster international collaboration.
Isabelle Guérin (IRD, co-organizer), Anastasia Cozarenco (MBS, co-organizer), Baptiste Venet (University Paris Dauphine, co-organizer), representatives of the Nepalese delegation.
Promoting social business and strengthening Microfinance Research at Montpellier Business School
In accordance with its mission to train responsible managers, Montpellier Business School received last March 4th Professor Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, pioneer of microcredit, to raise awareness on Social Business. In order to deepen its pedagogical accompaniment and its academic expertise of this discipline, the Microfinance Chair of Montpellier Business School was created and is the only one to focus on developed countries.
Anastasia COZARENCO commented saying: “Following the success of this conference, we are preparing to roll out other initiatives to better meet the demands of Research in the field and to pass on the latest tools and innovations to students to make them aware of societal values throughout their career.”
On Friday, September 20th, the final five finalists of the 6th edition of Start-Up Week faced off in front of a jury of professionals.
On this final phase, the expertise of Private Sport Shop, sponsor of the edition, was all the more important as it targeted a key element of their positioning: sports and digital.
Application, virtual reality and algorithm: a podium under the sign of technological innovation
For this ultimate week of Business Game, the concept remains unchanged: five projects compete in a final pitch phase before all the students and a jury of experts assessing the innovative character, the financial realism and the launch strategy of the start-up.
At the bottom of the podium, we find the group Virtual Arena who has chosen to focus on the friendly and spectacular aspect of major sporting events. In view of the perpetual improvement of the retransmissions of these events, this group imagined a concept of “virtual box” to watch, using virtual reality glasses, sports competitions as if you were there, and to meet in a virtual lounge with the people of your choice.
In second place, the group SAM (Sport Automatic Manager) decided to surf on the growth of the number of memberships in sports halls but especially the number of dropouts after a few weeks. The reason most often cited is the lack of availability of professionals and monitoring. Thus, the group has built a virtual coach, “Sam”, which allows tracking autonomously one’s progress through an algorithm.
The group that managed to reach the top of the podium was Place Me, an application for the sale of tickets for sports events, between individuals or on last minute. The project was born due to the filling rate deficit of the stadiums: 70% of the seats are actually occupied when 100% of the seats have been sold. The application allows you to connect enthusiasts, digitize your ticket and resell live on the application a few minutes before the game. This is an innovative concept halfway between an e-commerce platform and a social network.
To see the previous winners, here are the links:
The European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) has just awarded EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System) accreditation to Montpellier Business School (MBS). Already accredited by AACSB and AMBA, the School joins the very small circle of the 1% of worldwide Business Schools holding the “triple crown”.
Montpellier Business School thus becomes the 14th French triple accredited post-preparatory class management school (AACSB / AMBA / EQUIS), the 91st amongst about 14,000 business schools worldwide.
Accreditation is the result of a long and rigorous review process that assesses an institution’s compliance with high academic standards defined by the EFMD and covering all dimensions and components of the institution: strategy, pedagogy, research, internationalization, proximity to companies and networks of graduates. Accreditation also applies to all of the school programs: Bachelor, Grande Ecole Program, Masters of Science and Executive MBA.
Montpellier Business School relies on an atypical positioning, combining academic requirements and CSR footprint, which has allowed it to differentiate itself and acquire, over the years, a special place among French and international business schools. As Bruno DUCASSE, Dean of Montpellier Business School, explains: “This new accreditation recognizes Montpellier Business School’s unique strategy, which combines a focus on academic quality meeting the highest global standards with the will to defend strong values: social openness and building a more responsible economy and society. This is only the beginning, we are entering a new process of continuous improvement which must lead us to continue our progress. “
For André Deljarry, president of Montpellier Business School, “this new accreditation places Montpellier Business School in the top 1% of business schools in the world. It is a great pride for our school and our territory. With the Triple Crown and a new campus in the near future, Montpellier Business School will be ready to enter a new phase of its development. “
The integration of ecological and societal issues has been at the heart of Montpellier Business School’s strategy for many years.
Montpellier Business School is associated with the “Conférence des Grandes Ecoles” and endorses the forum of the French Student Network for Sustainable Development (REFEDD) which calls for a better integration of climate and social issues into the strategy of higher education institutions.
Montpellier Business School (MBS) supports this collective initiative, which is in full adequacy with the foundations of the school, its mission and its values: to train responsible managers capable of embodying ethics, openness, diversity, responsibility and overall performance.
Known for its societal commitment to Diversity, Montpellier Business School has integrated all dimensions of CSR in its internal workings as well as in its teaching for several years, with the aim of working at its level and through its students and graduates towards a more sustainable society.
Education and 360 ° awareness of environmental and societal issues
Montpellier Business School integrates CSR and sustainable development both in its teaching, where these subjects are taught in transverse as well as dedicated courses in all its programs (from Bachelor to Executive MBA), and in its internal operation.
Students take courses in CSR and Sustainable Development, Responsible Marketing, and can choose a specialization in Social and Solidarity Economy or Sustainable Management of Human Resources and Diversity.
Every year, all the first year students of the Bachelor and Grande Ecole programs participate in the solidarity projects “Alpha” and “Prométhée”. Coached by an employee of Montpellier Business School, each group sets up an action plan to raise funds, improve the reputation and strengthen the impact of an association.
All employees and students are also invited to take part in a number of awareness-raising programs that promote societal values throughout the year. In 2019, Global Responsibility Week organized workshops and conferences to raise awareness about the disappearance of wildlife and opened up new economic opportunities to start a business without endangering its ecosystem.
Commit to the future by supporting sustainable research
At Montpellier Business School several chairs and interdisciplinary research groups are working on CSR fields.
The Energy and Sustainable Development Chair, which organizes the annual “International Conference on Energy, Finance and Macroeconomics (ICEFM)”, brings together researchers and actors from all parts of the world around the latest discoveries in these three subjects.
The aim of the Entrepreneurship Social & Inclusion Chair is to promote businesses in the social and solidarity economy and to support people who are less qualified for employment in order to contribute to a more inclusive economy.
The Microfinance Chair is also dedicated to inclusion through microfinance, especially in developed countries, sensitizes students to Social Business and collaborates with Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2006.
The group “Values, Organizations, Actors and Responsibility” (VOAR) specializes in CSR practices and has supported companies in the implementation of sustainable development policy for several years, as was the case with Doctor Magalie Marais within the National Assembly two years ago.
Lastly, Sustainable Development will be at the heart of the specifications of the future eco-friendly campus, with a negative carbon footprint for higher education at the height of ecological challenges.
Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a reference organization for its international ranking of universities, has just published its 2020 list of the best Masters in Management, Marketing and Global Finance.
This ranking takes into account five main criteria that are the employability of graduates, the diversity of students and teaching staff, intellectual leadership, the return on investment of training and the salaries of graduates.
For the second year in a row, Montpellier Business School’s Grande Ecole program has a score of 100/100 in Diversity and thus occupies the 1st place in the world and France on this criterion. In the general ranking, the different programs of the school are classified as follows:
- 12th place in France for the “Grandes Ecoles de Management” for the Grande Ecole Program;
- 8th Master in French Marketing for the MSc Marketing Program;
- 12th Master in French Finance for the MSc Finance Program.
A theme that echoes the founding values of Montpellier Business School
Since September the 3rd, the 6th edition of Start-Up week is in full swing at the Montpellier Business School campus. This team-based Business Game brings each week, and until September 20th, the 900 final year students of the Grande Ecole Program to the challenge of starting a business.
For this second week of challenge, Private Sport Shop was guiding students through the complex sports market. Yannick Léouffre explained to the graduating students that “one of the market trends is the search for autonomy among athletes.”
Thus, the theme to which entrepreneurial apprentices should have been particularly sensitive to that week was inclusion. Katherine Gundolf, Director of the Montpellier Business School Entrepreneurship Centre, said that “this theme aims to make students work around concepts that are both innovative and respectful of diversity, two characteristic values of Montpellier Business School.”
A rich diversity in entrepreneurial projects proposed by students
As usual, five projects faced each other in a final phase of pitching before all the students and a jury of experts assessing the innovative character, financial realism and launch strategy of the start-up.
Each group decided to integrate inclusion and diversity at a different stage of the creative process. For the B&Fit group, a range of smart sportswear that adapts to everybody’s morphology, as well as for Safe Finder, an electronic bracelet for issuing an alert in case of aggression, the choice was to integrate the inclusion notion as early as possible to the Business Model and thus facilitate the practice of sport for a specific target.
For two other groups, the idea was not to create a product but to reinvent an existing concept and put it at the service of CSR: To Gather chose to ride the wave of “plogging” (running while picking up waste) organizing a series of official races whose proceeds would be donated to several associations. The second group, meanwhile, imagined a sports coaches agency delivering their services to businesses with the particularity of training and engaging only former prisoners whose reintegration into the job market can be difficult.
Nevertheless, one group has managed to emerge from the game thanks to a very well identified need: Smart Swim. “We started from a simple video, where we found that in official competition, we hit the visually impaired swimmers on their heads so that they know when to turn at the end of the pool.” Smart Swim is similar to swimming goggles, with the particularity of emitting a vibration when the swimmer is about to change lanes or to hit the end of the pool. “This product is not just for blind swimmers. It can be for all swimmers who prefer to focus on their performance, rather than on their correct trajectory. Sport for everyone.”
For nearly 12 years, the Montpellier Business School Foundation for Equal Opportunities, under the auspices of the “Fondation de France”, has raised funds to support Montpellier Business School’s social policy. Thanks to sponsors and donor companies, more than 400 students were able to benefit from aid totalling more than 15 million euros.
Helping each student to achieve success regardless of his family and financial situation
The Scholarship Ceremony will take place at Montpellier Business School on November 21st. This event celebrates the skills, academic level and overall potential of students through the award of:
- Excellence scholarships, which cover the full cost of training for designated students on social and academic criteria.
- International scholarships of excellence that include training costs and living expenses for students recruited in developing countries, with the help of French embassies abroad.
- Employee Scholarship for which all Montpellier Business School employees are mobilized.
- The first alumni scholarship announced at the Di-Day Meet your Network on April 12th.
Other scholarships are also awarded annually to apprentices: these are App’titude scholarships, which supplement apprentices’ remuneration in order to ensure the unforeseen events related to the pace of training.
The Foundation also supports and encourages entrepreneurship with the Young Innovative and Responsible Business Award for young entrepreneurs, students or graduates for less than three years. It evaluates the financial realism, the quality of the business plan, the innovative character and the contribution to the defence of the values of openness, responsibility and overall performance of the project. In 2019, Valentin and Pia won the € 10 000 to finance their start-up. Discover their story here.
A Foundation fully dedicated to equal opportunities
The specificity of the Montpellier Business School Foundation lies in the fact that 100% of donations are reinvested in actions related to equal opportunities. This is the purpose of the Montpellier Business School Foundation for Equal Opportunities: to fund various schemes to help students socially and financially.
The actions of the Montpellier Business School Foundation for Equal Opportunities are therefore not limited to scholarships. To find out more about all the schemes funded by the Foundation, click here.
Start-Up Week is back on the campus of Montpellier Business School for a 6th edition. Until September 20th, this team-based Business Game challenges each week the 900 final year students of the Grande Ecole Program to start a business.
Supervised by a dozen expert coaches, the 127 teams are trying to reinvent this year the companies of the sports sector. A small novelty of this edition, the sport theme is divided into 3 sub-segments of the market to renew the challenge and concepts every week. For this first round, the apprentice entrepreneurs have focused their skills and creativity around outdoor sport.
Private Sport Shop launches the expert conferences and shares market trends
Yannick Léouffre, CEO of PRIVATE SPORT SHOP, leader of private sales of sports equipment and publishing partner, has agreed to inaugurate this sports week with an opening conference delivering the main issues and opportunities of the sports market. “The spectrum of the sports market is very broad,” explains Vanessa Motais, Chargé de Mission at the Montpellier Business School Entrepreneurship Centre. “This can range from the equipment sector, to broadcast rights, to innovations in the disciplines themselves “.
Yannick Léouffre explained to the graduating students that “there are five major market trends. Athletes are looking for more autonomy and want to practice without a club or license. The angle of well-being is gaining momentum, and it is the practice of outdoor sports which completes the podium of customer needs”.
A successful simulation resulting in eligible concepts within the incubator of the Entrepreneurship Centre
At the end of this intensive and challenging week, students played the pitch game in front of a jury of professionals. “In addition to innovation and the concept, each group had to take into account the financial realism and the launching strategy required in the context of a simulation of fundraising,” explains Cédrine Joly, Director of the Grande Ecole Program.
The top five projects competed in a final phase of pitches in front of their comrades and a jury of experts. While some students surfed the trend of dating apps, electric bikes or collaborative economy systems like BlablaCar, the first place was disputed by Altibuzz, a vibrating altimeter to tell the user when to trigger his parachute, and Lensup, a virtual reality solution that transforms the real surroundings into a video game. After a slight suspense, it was ultimately the second group, with the larger target and relying on the successes of the video game market as Pokémon Go, who won this first week of challenge.
“The projects presented this week were of very good quality and can be incubated within the Entrepreneurship Centre for students who wish to do so. This is the opportunity to remind people that the Montpellier Business School incubator is open to all: students, graduates, teachers, professionals from the region … “concludes Katherine Gundolf, Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre.