Engagement

With the support from the Cetelem Foundation, Anne took her organisation, Homeless Plus, to the next level

Through the Cetelem Foundation, BNP Paribas Personal Finance is able to play an active role in making life better for the people of France. A hotbed of corporate social responsibility initiatives and innovations, the Foundation is committed to closing the digital divide and fighting the social injustice it fosters. It supports initiatives from charitable organisations with a focus on e-inclusion projects.

Having worked at BNP Paribas for 15 years, Anne requested support for her project from the Cetelem Foundation and it was approved! Here is her story.

What programme did you want to tell us about today?

I’d like to tell you about a project that I have been a part of since the beginning and that aligns with my belief in helping one another – the Homeless Plus app for helping the homeless.

Can you tell us about it?

It’s a free app that helps you locate homeless people, with their consent, and then post what they need: food, clothing, or just simple human contact. Then, it alerts people who may be able to help with these needs. Version 2.0 of the app will be released in early October and will put merchants, non-profits and individuals in contact with one another so they can help homeless individuals by organising community events.
The app is easy to use so it is easy to take action: enter the person’s location, mood and needs, and that’s it!

How did you hear about this project?

It’s a non-profit application created by my friend Aida Demdoum. We believe in the same causes and we were already taking part in soup runs, but we wanted to do even more, and we thought that technology might be a way to accomplish this.

What is your specific role in the organisation?

I do a lot of work on our partnerships, raising funds and moving the project forward. I also take part in the events held by Homeless Plus, such as our community events and soup runs. I’d like to mention that our organisation is staffed entirely by volunteers.

You wanted to take your project to the next level by getting the Cetelem Foundation involved. How did you know that the foundation might be able to help you?

By sheer chance. Last December I reached out to the CSR teams when we were collecting smartphones to give out to homeless individuals. We talked about the organisation and they told me that the project was a perfect fit for the Foundation’s causes. They then suggested that I present my project through the official channels. The Foundation members were interested and agreed to fund us for three years.

How did the people you submitted the project to react?

They were very enthusiastic. The foundation members had a lot of questions about the location services and how the homeless individuals use their smartphones. We talked about “new uses” because in the charity world, our relations with homeless persons are evolving. Plus, we do a lot of work with tech-focused student organisations to find ways to put new technology to work for the Homeless Plus app.

What is the Foundation doing for you and how is it changing how you operate?

Through the Cetelem Foundation, BNP Paribas Personal Finance is funding our work and helping us to develop the new version of our app. It’s also boosting our visibility with the 6,000+ people who work at the company in France and opening doors so we can take part in more community events.
For instance, in June we participated in the European Sustainable Development Week and collected smartphones. We are also connecting with new people at the company. We have met some incredible people and we are seeing that a lot of people would like to be part of the initiative, even if it’s just on a one-off basis. In July, one of our colleagues offered to collect 100 thermoses. We then handed them out during the heat wave so that people could always have cool water to drink. With a single phone call, she really made a difference!

Are you pleased to know that the company you work for cares about what you care about and supports your work?

Of course! I’m so proud of my company! In addition to the support from the Cetelem Foundation, I am proud of the employees who are all doing what they can. I am so happy to have met these incredible people and to have found out about the charitable projects my colleagues are working on.

What would you tell your colleagues if they are thinking about submitting their projects to the Cetelem Foundation?

Go for it! It’s a great way to connect with and get support from people who already know you, in a way, and that makes a huge difference!