Cairo 13: “Business leaders don’t have time to get sick”

New Publications: Why was Cairo 13 created? What is the difference between an employee and a self-employed person with cancer or a long-term illness?

Chantal Morvan: The birth of Caire 13, in 2014, was based on this realization: there is no support for independent business leaders in case of prolonged and disabling illness. Monitoring is aimed at the worker by the social security where, in case of sick leave, he can be stopped and replaced. In a VSE or SME company, the activity of a self-employed worker is often linked to himself, he is the key man or key woman. And if he’s in the process of treatment, he literally doesn’t have the head anymore to manage his box and no one can do it for him. As a result, it is the risk of his activity or even the jobs that depend on it. As a business leader, you develop a certain mindset of not wanting to recognize that you need help. We are convinced that this will not happen to us. But it’s life. We want to make a manager’s life as easy as possible so they can focus on their care.

What connection do you have with Cairo 13?

During an evening organized in 2019, I met Jean-Daniel Benaich, former president of Cairo 13. He explained to me the purpose of the association and I started to get very interested in it, because that was what I needed when I found out I was sick. I had run my business since April 2001, a call center for doctors and lawyers, Filkom.

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In 2007, I self-diagnosed a rare growth disorder: acromegaly, giant’s disease. An adenoma in the pituitary gland that was producing growth hormone. I began to grow again, like a newborn. But when you’re 40, you’re deformed under the weight of the organs that grow inside your body. Before being diagnosed, I was exhausted, I couldn’t move, I was in pain…

How did you react?

My company answered 1,600 calls a day and I had twelve employees. So I hid: I acted as if everything was fine, as many leaders do. In fact, my brain was upside down, I couldn’t make my collection, answer the phone… I put my business in difficulty and found myself in the Commerce Court. I had nothing, neither insurance nor foresight, because business leaders are never sick by definition, they have neither the time nor the right. I’m the typical life profile of a beneficiary, only I didn’t exist. Today I am healed, and I am where I finally, always should be, in Cairo 13. What is happening here, what is being said here, is my life. I am committed to supporting the people who come to see us.

On April 14, you were elected president of the association for three years. How do you see this new commitment?

Today, and always, Caire 13 operates in the shadows. The idea is to show that behind all this, there are beautiful human values. On June 5th, the Rotary Club of Gémenos is organizing a kart race on the Castellet circuit and has decided to donate everything for the benefit of our association. This is usually what I would like to focus on: exhibitions, culture, sport, well-being… For both our beneficiaries and our volunteers. And encourage them to do so, because it’s not easy to be the driving force when you’re sick. It takes positive energy all around! Of course, if there is no light somewhere, it doesn’t help to heal.

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I would also like to find new funding, because even if it remains free for the sick leader, it all comes at a cost. The support team is composed of multidisciplinary professionals: lawyers, accountants, etc. All entirely volunteers.

We already have partnerships with the Gims 13 foundation, AG2R la Mondiale, the Banque de France, the EDF foundation, the city of Marseille, the Bouches-du-Rhône department, the Paca region… I want to ask for corporate solidarity everywhere!

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