“Bringing together start-ups supported by Orange and responsible suppliers in China can confidently produce innovative products at competitive costs, while positively impacting the local economy.”
During his 27-year career at Orange, Alex Wang has worked as China Area Manager for 3 years, then Strategic Account Manager, Wholesale France Sales Manager and CEO Sourcing Consulting since 2006. He also founded the Joint Audit Cooperation (opens in a new window) (JAC), the CSR association for telecom operators.
Jean-Michel Boisseau joined the Group Purchasing Department in 2003 as a Manager, and then held the role of Strategy Director of Purchasing Development for 7 years. Since 2017, he has been Director of Suppliers Innovation in charge of implementing the Group’s Open Innovation strategy for procurement/supply chain.
“Responsible purchasing is a key focus of the Orange CSR strategy. When Stéphane Richard (Chairman and CEO Orange) signed the Supplier Code of Conduct in 2010, it marked the beginning of the Group’s proactive policy in this area. Since then, our policy has expanded across our international footprint through training and support with a twofold objective: streamlining our suppliers while positively impacting local economies through our purchasing choices.
In 2004, Orange set up a satellite office dedicated to responsible purchasing around four axes: workers’ social conditions (child or forced labour), health and safety, environmental protection and ethical business practices. Since then, the interest in responsible purchasing has increased in importance both with businesses and the Chinese government.
We’re also developing cooperation between multinational suppliers through the Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC), a CSR association now totalling 16 telecom operators including Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, Vodafone, Telefonica, AT&T, Verizon and Telstra. Recognising that we often all use the same suppliers, we’re sharing manufacturing sources and best practices to ensure they improve their supply chain processes. This means one voice and one methodology for cost sharing and greater influence.
Today we’re opening up our “responsible supplier” contact lists to start-ups. These are the companies who are particularly interested in manufacturing in China, which is a very attractive country for sub-contracting. More than a simple address book, we support start-ups in their relationship with Chinese suppliers by helping them with business relations, legal assistance and negotiating manufacturing contracts. Our HARP (Hardware AcceleRation Programme) enables them to manufacture their products in China while bringing together CSR and innovation. This is the case for Smiirl, which has developed a connected counter for social networks, and also Prizm, which has created an add-on to a sound system for creating music playlists according to people’s tastes and moods.
Our programme offers start-ups a double benefit. It guarantees them manufacturing that they can trust in – whether that means quality or intellectual property. And it still means they benefit from competitive prices for products that can remain ‘made in Europe’ or ‘made in USA’ etc. For Chinese suppliers, this is an opportunity to fill their order book and strengthen cooperation with Orange and other JAC members.”
Gauthier Nadaud is one of the founders of Smiirl, which manufactures real-time counters connected to social networks. The start-up joined forces with Orange to manufacture its products in a Chinese factory.
“Having support from Orange in China was like going there with a big brother and the backing of an international group.”
Gauthier Nadaud, cofounder of Smiirl
What was your starting point for working with Orange?
Orange spotted us in 2013 during season 4 of Camping, a NUMA accelerator. François Dufour, who is in charge of start-up relations, suggested we work with their business unit in Asia. We were producing small quantities of counters in France, and this was the opportunity to ramp up our production volume. Orange came with us to visit more than 15 factories before we made our choice. Working with such large factories on the other side of the world was a first for Smiirl!
What are the advantages of working in this way?
The advantage of starting out in France was learning as much as possible about manufacturing our product. We have also kept part of our production in France, in partnership with the “Association des Paralysés de France” (French association for people with disabilities).
However, it was becoming more complicated to increase our production volume. In China, in addition to great local expertise in manufacturing, we’ve benefited from an excellent local reception and more affordable production costs. And having support from Orange was like going there with a big brother and the backing of an international group.
What does the support mean in concrete terms?
Orange mainly helped us at the start, when we were choosing a manufacturer. We received a lot of support understanding the cultural side of business as well as legal and commercial aspects. It didn’t take us long to become independent and comfortable in our relationships with local suppliers and partners, and Orange has continued to provide one-off support when we need it.
Was responsible manufacturing an important element in your choice of supplier?
Knowing that our manufacturer respects a number of ethical criteria made all the difference, especially in this part of the world where working conditions, compliance with environmental standards and intellectual property can vary widely. The Orange certification is a proof of how serious it is, leading us to think more and more about how we manage our products through the entire supply chain.
What advice would you give to a start-up who wants to move its manufacturing to China?
Know your product by heart! This will give you a realistic idea of production cycles and you can fall back on it when the manufacturer tries to make changes. Having started with small manufacturing volumes enabled us to get to know our product’s supply chain before moving our manufacturing offshore.