L’OCCITANE celebrates its Foundation’s 15th birthday – and three achievements reflecting its firm philanthropic commitments!
The L’OCCITANE Foundation is celebrating its 15th birthday. It was founded on 8 July 2006 to further develop the solidarity initiatives undertaken by L’OCCITANE en Provence since the 1970s. Building on the brand’s sincere and willing commitment, the Foundation set itself three priority areas for action on which to focus its efforts: respecting biodiversity, caring for sight and women’s empowerment. Each year, the Foundation supports some 50 projects around the world led by organisations such as UNICEF*.
In its 15 years of engagement, the Foundation’s programmes have protected almost 1,000 plant species in Provence and around the world, enabled more than 13 million people globally to receive eye care and supported more than 42,000 women in Burkina Faso.
President of the L’OCCITANE Foundation and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the L’OCCITANE Group
The birth of the Foundation in 2006 was the natural continuation of what L’OCCITANE has done since its own beginnings.The Foundation’s achievements are marvellous insofar as they have tangibly changed the everyday lives of millions of people. In celebrating this landmark we’re celebrating millions of individual stories and successes!
I’m very proud of all those who strive to further L’OCCITANE’s philanthropic commitments by working for and with the Foundation; they do an absolutely extraordinary job!
L’OCCITANE’s philanthropy budget consists of the Foundation’s endowment (more than €1 million a year) and two complementary sources of funding. The first of these is local budgets that L’OCCITANE’s subsidiaries use to directly support NGO projects, assisted by the invaluable contribution of brand employees volunteering for the Foundation. Every year, over 30 projects aiming to care for sight and respect biodiversity are selected and given financial support by the various business areas involved. The second complementary source of funding comes in the form of the profits** from the brand’s charity products, which it sells in its boutiques and online.
Caring for sight
According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), 1.1 billion people worldwide suffer from loss of vision, even though it could be prevented or treated in 90% of cases (source: http://www.iapb.org/learn/vision-atlas). Three of the Foundation’s many initiatives particularly illustrate the breadth of its engagement in this area, which seeks to enable as many people as possible to see the wonders of nature:
- In 2020, L’OCCITANE and its Foundation celebrated the completion of its Union for Vision 10by20 project, whose goal was to provide eye care to 10 million people. On the back of this achievement, L’OCCITANE and its Foundation now intend to raise this figure to 15 million by 2025. This project comprises screening programmes, treatment, surgeries and the provision of glasses, but also funding for equipment and training for eye care professionals.
- L’OCCITANE and its Foundation launched a major international partnership with UNICEF in 2017, with a guaranteed minimum annual contribution of €1 million. At the end of 2020, the partnership already helped prevent childhood blindness in more than 5.5 million children in Bolivia, Myanmar, Papua-New Guinea and Niger by supporting vitamin A supplementation programmes. In 2020, the partnership with UNICEF was extended for a further three years and its scope was broadened to help prevent childhood blindness in over 3 million more children worldwide.
- L’OCCITANE’s teams throughout the world are making an invaluable contribution to these charitable endeavours. The Race for Vision has taken place every year since 2016, with all L’OCCITANE staff getting active to rack up mileage by walking, running or cycling. At the end of the event, L’OCCITANE undertakes to make a contribution through its Foundation, based on the total distance covered, to projects that prevent and fight against blindness.
For more than 30 years, L’OCCITANE has been sourcing shea butter – one of its hallmark ingredients – from women shea producers in Burkina Faso. By sourcing its fair-trade certified shea butter directly from these women, the brand helps them to secure a sustainable livelihood and ensure that their know-how can continue to pass from generation to generation.
The dozen or so Burkinabe female shea butter producers that L’OCCITANE began working with in the 1980s are now 10,000 in number, and since 2013 L’OCCITANE has been recognised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as an exemplary company in Burkina Faso.
In addition to the company’s fair-trade sourcing of ingredients, since the Foundation was launched it has supported NGOs advocating for women’s empowerment in Burkina Faso. It focuses on girls’ education, vocational training and women’s entrepreneurship. In 2020, L’OCCITANE and its Foundation beat their target of supporting 33,000 women in Burkina Faso: the number of women supported since the commitment was made has now reached 42,000, and the new aim is to assist 60,000 women by 2025.
To meet the urgent needs of women and girls affected by internal displacement resulting from the deteriorating security situation in the country, the Foundation has included funding for emergency assistance in its strategy for 2021.
Established in Provence in 1976, L’OCCITANE is now part of a family group with international reach that brings together a community made up of ambassadors for nature and craftspeople who work with it. L’OCCITANE has always been committed to preserving the natural heritage of the Mediterranean. This is a concern shared by the Foundation, which supports local initiatives aimed at passing on know-how related to the region’s natural plant heritage and protecting threatened species and ecosystems.
More broadly, through its engagement, the Foundation seeks to avert the dangers threatening ecosystems. To this end, the Foundation supports the French Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which maintains a Red List for Mediterranean ecosystems. Since 2015, 31 ecosystems have been identified and evaluated, providing a precious tool for building conservation strategies, identifying priorities and developing regulations.
The L’OCCITANE Foundation’s engagement in support of biodiversity has broadened internationally since 2019. At the same time, the Foundation is encouraging all L’OCCITANE subsidiaries worldwide to find and support local organisations that are running projects to preserve rare and/or threatened local plant varieties, restore forest ecosystems and promote sustainable agriculture.
* UNICEF does not endorse any company, brand, product or service.
** 100% profits donated