Christophe Dunand

Ashoka Fellow
Geneva, Switzerland
Fellow Since 2014
Réalise Entreprise d'insertion


Christophe works to avoid long-term exclusion from the labor market of the most excluded people (long-term unemployed excluded by their lack of a diploma, their age or their cultural origins). The approach combines the evaluation of competencies, operational training (Swiss learning logic) and direct placement, bypassing the usual selection process, including resumés and interviews.



Each year about 300 people are trained by réalise in one of its five activity sectors (gardening, bleaching, cleaning, logistics and watchmaking industry sub-contracting). Between 30% and 40% of them find a job
at the end of their internship. Christophe’s work has also resulted in the federation and professionalization of social organizations, the dissemination of the réalise model as a viable social enterprise through his university
functions, and a system change in the field of inclusion and training in Switzerland. He is now working to scale up réalise impact at the international level, making the model available to other organizations working on vocational training and labor integration.


Christophe was not inspired by traditional schools, so he joined a school of horticulture at the age of 16, to be in contact with nature. Motivated by ecological issues, he followed an engineering school and later a post-graduate Masters in Sustainable Development. in 1993, facing the rise of unemployment in Switzerland, réalise became the center of his commitment and he has been working since then to build a sustainable labor market and a social and ecological transition.





This profile was prepared when Christophe Dunand was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
Throughout the nineties, Christophe started building the field of “social integration enterprises” (i.e social enterprises focused on connecting vulnerable, unemployed people more permanently to the workforce) and demonstrating the power of social entrepreneurship. He invented and scaled a new model to reintegrate the most excluded people into the labor market and made it the new reference for the whole social sector.

Capitalizing on his experience and recognition in the field of social integration, Christophe has replicated his model and initiated a changemaking movement in all the social fields of action, from education to environment to health, working against exclusion. His transformative model relies on a threefold strategy: 1) creating networks to federate local initiatives under a common identity and breaking down barriers created by the highly-local nature of the social sector and government regulation; 2) incubating new solutions and demonstrating the power of innovation to change traditional systems; and 3) breaking silos to engage government, academic and business players. The DNA of Christophe’s national platform to connect local initiatives for employment includes training for in-demand jobs, scalability, innovation and private partnerships.

Because of Christophe’s work, a single definition of social integration enterprise is now accepted in all the Swiss cantons, which unlocks funding and support for scaling-up initiatives. In addition, the “’Swiss Integration Network” – which gathers all public and private organizations working on labor issues - uses Christophe’s model as its new strategic framework.

Christophe also has created a flagship network of “Cantonal Chambers for Social Economy” which provides unprecedented visibility, coordination and collaboration to the Swiss social sector, which has been slower to embrace innovation and which is highly local in nature. Finally, Christophe started the first classes on social entrepreneurship in universities and business schools in Switzerland, influenced the city of Geneva to create a new employment contract for people with social issues, and he engaged the National Confederation of Swiss Employers (26,000 companies) to change their recruitment processes and hire people coming from social integration enterprises. A key figure in Switzerland, Christophe’s pioneering efforts have created a legitimate legal and financial space for the sector of social entrepreneurship to surface and scale.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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