In France, 98% of the youth goes to school, this hub of knowledge and traineeship to become citizen. But what does the word “citizen” mean? Do we have rights and obligations regarding our own country only? Aren’t social and environmental issues global?
I always wanted to get engaged on specific causes but I was divided about the actions I should undertake. Should I launch a project in France? Is there not more needs in developing countries?
In 2009, I started a project in Burkina Faso with 10 of my best friends: we wanted to support women of a small village in the south of the country to earn more incomes and send their children to school. Most of the women of the village were working on the production of shea butter (beurre de karité) but were earning almost anything from it. So our role was to help them increase and certify their production so they could sell it to french corporations. It was my first entrepreneurial experience and it was the best time I had during my studies. But at the same time, many people were telling us “why do you need to go so far while there are already many issues in France?” Now I’m telling myself that the question I was supposed to ask myself at this time was: how could we connect people all over the World to solve local issues that are actually global?
3 years ago I discovered MakeSense, a global movement that has been built by individuals ready to take action to help social entrepreneurs all around the world. Offline, they organize innovation workshops to build collaborative solutions to the entrepreneurs’ issues and online, mobilize their friends to share their ideas on www.makesense.org.
I was looking during a year from the outside about what they were doing. At this time I didn’t really understand but I was impressed about all this involvement and happiness of young people ready to take actions on causes that really matter to them. So at one point I decided to join.
I think now you can call me the “Business on top of MakeSense traveler”; in 2 years I learned much more than in 5 years of studies. I first started with SenseSchool, the academic branch of MakeSense. With SenseSchool we permit to students to learn concrete tools while getting engaged on causes that are important to them. I still remember, when I applied there, Marine Plossu, co-founder of SenseSchool, asked me what innovation meant to me? I didn’t know why she was asking me this, for me innovation was only technologic; all I wanted it’s to support social entrepreneurs and have an impactful job.
Now I understand what I was missing as a student: the concept of innovation. By growing up, we lose the curiosity and non-judgment we had when we were kids. Innovation permits to bring all of this in us, become more curious about a specific issue and bring with fun a specific solution to it.
I learned so much with SenseSchool, that I wanted to go FORWARD and give the opportunity to anyone in the World to get engaged, solve issues and learn at the same time. Thanks to Commonssense and our partnership with Gawad Kalinga, I left to the Philippines to develop the community of MakeSense volunteers in Asia. In 6 months, we mobilized 300 people all over the region on challenges of social entrepreneurs.
What was amazing is that people were like me 2 years ago: they didn’t know anything about design thinking and innovation tools but were motivated to get mobilized on specific causes, learn and connect with people all over the World.
During my stay in Asia, I really saw the power of the MakeSense community: on April 25, a big earthquake occurred in Nepal. 8 Million People got affected and a big majority of them became homeless. This natural catastrophe really chocked populations in Asia and all over the World. The MakeSense community got engaged very fast: Trechelle from the hotspot in Singapore launched a “call to action” to support the social enterprise BillionBricks, which builds shelters for homeless in Asia. In 4 days, the community was able to raise 20 000 dollars to send hundreds of shelters to accommodate thousands of Nepaleses.
On a long term vision, Nepalese volunteers saw that to have an impact, they will have to create economic and social value in the country. They organized innovation workshops mobilizing local entrepreneurs and the youth of Kathmandu to create the next social enterprises of the country. Even volunteers from Mexico, through the MakeSense digital platform, organized the same events to propose other solutions. From this they were able to imagine 5 social enterprises in the country. Thanks to MakeSense, people from different places in the World got mobilized and bring their solutions to an urgent need.
After 6 months, the volunteers are still getting involved to bring change in their countries. For instance in Vietnam, Minh is organizing this week-end an innovation workshop with hackerspace to build an open-source community able to create solar lamps for the less fortunate.
Now I’m back in France and working with the SenseCube, the social start-ups acceleration program of MakeSense. With Simon we are mobilizing students and young entrepreneurs willing to use the new technologies to have an impact on society during the SwitchUp Challenge.
It’s the new chapter of my journey: bring all the innovation tools I learned and joy I have to entrepreneurs willing to make a change in the World.
In 2 years, I had the chance to travel between different social businesses (SenseSchool, MakeSense & SenseCube) and also all over the World. I really believe I’m now a World citizen, but it’s not thanks to all these travels: it’s thanks to the worldwide mobilization and connection I create every day with passionate people.
To conclude, I can definitely tell you that MakeSense trained World Citizens: People exchange and create tools every day with dozen of nationalities to propose solutions to causes that really matter to them.
Today we are 20 000 people who choose a challenge, solve it and celebrate. Our dream for the following years is to give the opportunity to 1 MILLION PEOPLE. For this, we need more people like Mamba (West Africa), Lorena (South America) and Chloé (Europe) who are supporting the MakeSense volunteers in their daily social innovation journey.
So if you want to allow anyone to solve 21st century challenges, learn innovation and become World citizens, support MakeSense for the Google Impact Challenge: bit.ly/4sense!