NICOLAS HAZARD: THE JOURNEY OF A SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR
Nominated “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum in 2015, Nicolas Hazard has been building a successful career in social entrepreneurship. He is the founder of INCO, a global accelerator supporting social enterprises. We interviewed him to know more about his journey as a French entrepreneur in Austin (USA).
Entrepreneurship: A Means to an End?
The creation of a business often arises from a entrepreneur analyzing his surroundings and looking for solutions to problems. Before founding INCO, Nicolas Hazard went through professional experiences abroad and in the French public sector. “I quickly noticed how limited political actions were”, says Hazard.
What could be the solution? “I decided to turn toward the private sector, focusing on entrepreneurship, to induce a much-needed difference in the world. I decided to become an entrepreneur as a way to become an actor of change”.
Hazard then narrowed his attention to the financial sector. The 2008 crisis, that sparked a sense of mistrust and fraudulent behavior regarding financial institutions, triggered his choice. “I see finance as a tool that needed to be re-anchored in reality, at the service of startups who make the world more inclusive and sustainable”, says Hazard.
Social businesses are organizations that use commercial means to maximize a social or environmental outcome. After graduating from Science Po Paris and HEC, Hazard used his past professional experience to create INCO, a social business that operates in more than 20 countries “creating economic opportunities for all”.
“INCO invests in companies that combine financial viability and positive social and environmental impact. Since we quickly noticed that the startups we financed also needed some support to fully mature their projects, we decided to make INCO an integrated accelerator, combining all the stages of development needed for these young companies”, explains Hazard.
INCO provides training, incubations programs, workforce development and media support.
Hazard is also the president of CALSO, a non-profit organization helping disadvantage individuals on their journey to success. Besides that, every year he organizes the “Impact.” event, dedicated to social entrepreneurship. The event brings together 1,500 political and economic decision-makers from 50 countries annualy in Paris.
Austin, a Technological Hub
Hazard explains the reasons to set up in Austin, Texas, the incubation program Tarmac TX: “By exemplarily adding technological, entrepreneurial and academic talents, the city of Austin became one of the major technological hubs where big companies like 3M, IBM, Google installed their offices”.
The administration of Austin, especially City Hall, wanted to make the city an example of inclusiveness and durability, capable of rising to the social and environmental challenges inherent to large metropoles. “Austin is also known today for its excellent quality of life, with a dynamic cultural and artistic scene. So many reasons that pushed us to prioritize the capital of Texas compared to other American cities.”
The French Social Know-How
Hazard tells us that he “personally tries to export the “Social Made in France”, and in particular the model of social enterprises that unite economic performance and public good, putting vulnerable individuals back to work”. As an entrepreneur, he considers that “there is a lot to learn from other countries, especially the United States, where all entrepreneurial dreams can be made true.”
This is the reason for him to travel a lot and network with “as many entrepreneurial mindsets as possible”. He highlights that France social know-how is a valuable asset. “Paradoxically, this model works well in the US, a country that value individuals who give themselves a chance to succeed, whatever path they choose.”
“Every Entrepreneur has his own path”
We asked him if he had any advice to give to entrepreneurs:
“What I learned and I appreciate the most from the United States is that to be successful you first need to fail. When raising money, you need to be able to show that you have learned from your setbacks and that you weren’t discouraged.”
“More than money and partners, who always end up being found if the project is good, you first need to be tenacious and know how to admit what did not work the first time, to be able to start again.”
An Article by Syrah Ribourel
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