Sylvain Couthier

ATF Gaia

ATF Gaia is an adapted enterprise focusing on the recycling and reselling of IT and telecom equipment, which promotes equal access to employment by integrating a large majority of workers with disabilities in its workforce.

Focus: Employment, equal opportunities, disabilities
Geographic Area of Impact: France
Model: Social business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 45 (2014)
Annual Budget: USD $10.33 million (2014)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 95% (2014)

The Social Problem
In France, a total of nine million people consider themselves at least partly disabled. The government officially recognizes over 2.7 million of them, granting employment rights to 1.8 million individuals thanks to the adoption of new laws and policies. Unfortunately, major inequalities are still present in the system. Those bearing disabilities often experience lower wages, higher unemployment rates, and limited access to training when compared with the rest of the population. It appears clear that disabilities have a strong impact not only on the health of those that have to live with them, but also on their employment status. Promoting fair access to job opportunities remains therefore key to addressing social inequalities linked to disabilities.

Innovation and Activities
ATF Gaia is an adapted enterprise, employing over 80% of workers with disabilities in its workforce. It offers technical assistance and IT services to business, on top of buying used IT and telecom equipment for the purpose of reconditioning and reselling. It is also an authorized Microsoft refurbishing centre and, when the equipment cannot be resold, ATF Gaia recycles it through a network of approved partners.

The company provides its employees with different opportunities to achieve professional goals with around 700 hours of training per year. The trainings identify current and future market needs, and support people with disabilities in developing the skills needed to find durable employment.

Today ATF Gaia employs 45 disabled workers, and most of them joined the company with no previous qualifications. In 2014, the company processed over 162,986 pieces of equipment, reselling 61% of it and recycling the remaining 39%.

The Entrepreneur
Sylvain began his career as a sales engineer at Computer Associates, a large software development company. After different years of experience, he moved to ATF Gaia, where he worked as a sales representative, prior to rising through the ranks and becoming President of the enterprise. Since then he has received recognition including the 2013 EY Entrepreneur of the Year award for social engagement. As a former high-level rugby player, Sylvain transposed the values of this sport into his company: team spirit and respect for others.