We have been working alongside Le Chemin des Fleurs (formerly Fleurs de Cocagne) since its inception. The charity, an organic horticultural farm in Avrainville (c.40 km south of Paris), was established in 2014 to help excluded and vulnerable individuals, primarily women, rebuild confidence and self-esteem through worthy and rewarding agricultural work.
Le Chemin des Fleurs took an abandoned farm and brought it back to life, first by growing flowers and providing high quality bouquets which its employees sell locally and to businesses and then expanding their offer with by producing organic vegetables in 2019.
Why we decided to support Le Chemin des Fleurs
PAI Community supports Le Chemin des Fleurs with yearly donations and fundraising events – including two sponsored races, raising more than €20k at each edition, but also through regular contacts and interactions. Additionally PAI community sits on the charity’s board and supports Le Chemin des Fleurs much like one of PAI’s portfolio companies, bringing more than financial donations, PAI Community advises, mentors and helps a talented and dedicated management team in making connections that will further strengthen its mission.
Le Chemin des Fleurs : a transformational journey
In 2019 Le Chemin des Fleurs expanded into organic vegetables and they now employs the equivalent of 16 full-time workers, offering training and, where necessary, support with health, housing and addiction with the help of a full-time dedicated social worker.
The performance would make any portfolio manager proud: over the last five years, Le Chemin des Fleurs’s turnover has grown 10-fold. In 2020, despite the pandemic, it increased turnover by 26%.
PAI Community played a key role in helping Le Chemin des Fleurs conclude a transformative transaction with the acquisition of the site (land and building) which it operates.
The site was acquired via an SPV (special purpose vehicle) with financing made possible by a significant one-off donation from PAI Community together with provided by some individuals that Le Chemin des Fleurs will repay over time, therefore becoming the sole owner of the site.
PAI Community played a crucial role in the site acquisition, leading the negotiations that took place with the landlord. This land has now become the cornerstone of the next development stage of the charity as it will now have sole control over the site and the ability to invest in developing the property.
This new step has unlocked the potential to broaden the reach of the charity, adding opportunities to enlarge the local impact and attraction of the site, adding new skills to employ more people (maintenance person, cook), but more importantly, on the back of investments, the charity will become a reference in mastering the art of growing organic flowers: Le Chemin des Fleurs is now in a position to build upon an ambitious development plan with such planned investments allowing it to widen its reach in France, franchising its horticultural know-how to third parties, among which some will hopefully become copycats in other regions.
What’s more, we’re also favouring connections between Le Chemin des Fleurs with PAI’s portfolio companies (MyFlower and Armacell).