Soliguide is a multimodal platform providing homeless people and refugees with helpful information. Here’s a few words from Victoria Mandefield, the woman behind it all:

What inspired you as creator? 

For quite a few years, I volunteered to help homeless people and refugees. I think I was guided to the idea by the obvious need. People expressed that they were lost about where to go, so I started to keep a list on my phone on nearby places. The real “Aha!” moment happened on the bus. In Paris, recently, they installed interactive screens on some bus stop. I saw a homeless person trying to sleep on the bus stop bench, while kids where playing on the interactive screen. I found the contrast striking and thought that this technology should be used for things that really matters. It should be used to help that person sleeping right next to it.

How do you sustain the project?

Our business model is based on cities, like Paris and Bordeaux. They finance us to develop the project on their territory, because it’s positive for them to be able to reintegrate homeless people faster. Today, about 50% of our budget comes from grants from Europe, private foundations and donations, but our aim is to reduce it over the next year.

How do you measure the impact of your work?

Today, Soliguide’s database covers Paris and its suburb, Bordeaux and Nantes (3 big french cities). In just a year and a half, we mapped more than 4700 places a

nd allowed for more than 26 000 orientations on our platform! We are really amazed with how many people use it and find it useful.

I also keep on volunteering and find myself using my own tool sometimes. I find it very rewarding, to see its usefulness into action.

What are your future plans?

Currently, we are awash with requests from all around France to develop the Soliguide. It’s really positive, and it shows that the need exist in many parts of the country, but it’s also a lot of work!

My long term vision is to develop it anywhere it is needed. I want to implement it in particular in all the big cities in Europe (486 that have more than 100 000 inhabitants, to be exact!).

What was the best moment for you after founding your business?

The best moment, I believe, it was to be able to hire people. I am lucky enough to have an amazing team comprised of very diverse people. Being able to give a job to people, that for some are themselves bouncing back from precarity, is incredible.

In which way winning the European Youth Award helped your social business grow?

The European Youth Award helped us gain recognition and broaden our mind. We loved spending these few days with other amazing social entrepreneurs. It really expanded our long-term vision, and we are much more ambitious now.

How was your experience at the EYA Festival?

We loved every part of it! We learned a lot by attending the workshops and created bonds with entrepreneurs from all around Europe. On top of that, we discovered Austria and it was awesome.