Jean-Louis Ribes

Distribution Services Industriels (DSI)
Year founded: 

DSI improves the perception of disabled people in France by employing them in industrial service jobs.

Focus: Disabilities
Geographic Area of Impact: France
Model: Social Business
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, France, 2008

In 1994, Jean-Louis Ribes realized his dream of starting his own consulting business. Many clients shared with him their difficulty in applying laws regarding employment of disabled people. While making inquiries, he realized nothing was being done to employ disabled people and that nobody really cared. DSI’s mission is to improve perceptions of the work value of disabled people. He refuses to confine the company and its employees to low value-added tasks.

Innovation and Activities
DSI employs disabled people to perform industrial and tertiary services, such as data capture and photocopying. However, these jobs can evolve quickly to higher value-added activities. For example, DSI employees work in industrial logistics and R&D, which includes a contract with France’s Ministry of Defense to ramp up signal processing for its radar systems. Other areas where DSI works include providing aeronautical parts for Airbus and transportation logistics for Air France in Toulouse.

At DSI, individual development is extremely important; each disabled employee is trained and coached. For example, an employee hired by DSI with a third-year level from a junior technical high school is now an IT manager in charge of the company’s entire IT network. This person is permanently equipped with a voice recognition application since his disability does not allow him to write.

About 80% of those employed by DSI are disabled. The company benefits from additional turnover from the state to pay for the service of employing and training them, yet about a dozen people are employed without this aid. Of the disabled people hired by DSI, 80% have never had an employer before, nor had a specialized background.

DSI presents its initiative as an advantage rather than a constraint to corporate clients. They can also reduce the AGEFIPH (fund for the professional inclusion of disabled people) tax, and can benefit from a reduction proportional to the turnover realized with DSI.

The Entrepreneur
Jean-Louis Ribes is from a humble background. His parents were sharecroppers and he started working when he was 11 years old. After high school, he attended a school for technical training, which led him to work with two engineering offices.