Sébastien Marot

Year founded: 

Friends-International protects and supports marginalized children, youth and their families to become functional and productive citizens of their country. This is achieved through access to education and employment and the use of social business models.

Focus: Youth, Education, Health, Homelessness and Housing, Enterprise Development
Geographic Area of Impact: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Philippines, Honduras, Mexico, Egypt, Myanmar
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 60,000 (2011)
Annual Budget: US$ 6 million (2011)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 31%
Recognition: Regional Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Asia, 2009

There are over 500 million marginalized children and youth in urban areas worldwide, as a result of migration, unemployment, domestic abuse, substance abuse, detention, exploitation and/or deceased parents. Unless effective intervention and social services are put into place, marginalized youth will continue to weigh negatively on development, security and public health issues.

Innovation and Activities
Established in 1994, Friends-International takes a comprehensive approach in helping 60,000 marginalized children and youth every year to become functional and productive citizens of society. The organization is built around four interlinked initiatives:

The Friends Programs provide best practice psycho-social and educational services that support marginalized urban children and youth, their families and communities, and function as practical training resources for other organizations. Currently, Friends-International runs Friends Programs in Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Thailand.

The CYTI Alliance builds cooperation in the field, replicating good practices, sharing training and working together to influence policies that can increase social and economic opportunities for marginalized children and youth. It ensures that members’ services are based on the Convention of the Rights of the Child. CYTI Alliance has members in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, Honduras, Egypt and Myanmar.

The ChildSafe Network is an international community-based network that works to protect children from all forms of abuse. This is achieved by establishing local child protection networks, coordinating local and international awareness campaigns, and using social marketing strategies and methodologies to increase child protection by ensuring behaviour change at a global level.

The Friends Social Businesses provide vocational training and/or access to employment to its target groups, while at the same time creating financial resources supporting the overall sustainability of the organization and its partners. This includes the franchising of specific social business to support replication, sustainability and support to partner organizations.

The Entrepreneur
After studying at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, Sébastien Marot worked with the department of French Foreign Affairs and in marketing for l’Oreal, before being inspired to work with marginalized children. During his travels through Cambodia in 1994, he launched the award-winning Mith Samlanh project in Phnom Penh to address the many issues faced by marginalized children and youth. From Phnom Penh, he developed the internationally acclaimed social enterprise Friends-International, to provide protection, support and care for marginalized children and youth around the world, using a series of social business models. His awards include: the Order of Australia for Service to Humanity; the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship; and, the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Asia (2009). Friends-International was named a Top 100 Non-Governmental Organization by The Global Journal in January 2012.