"Creating solidarity between all parties involved"
Christian Vanizette co-created the MakeSense platform in 2011, which supports innovative and socially responsible projects, and he is one of the jury members for the 2016 EDF Pulse Awards. The following is an interview with Christian Vanizette, a great admirer of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammmad Yunus.
What is MakeSense's goal?
MakeSense is a digital platform that connects 25,000 citizens worldwide. Its goal is to solve serious social and environmental problems. In a concrete sense, potential volunteers interested in the transition towards renewable energy can use the platform to find a project fighting for that kind of change. This means that MakeSense creates connections between different parties and aspires to create a grass-roots movement around the entrepreneurs who are tomorrow's visionaries. Thousands of projects can be found on the platform, divided among eight large themes, including Energy.
How does it work?
If volunteers are interested in projects like Comme à la maison (CALM), an Airbnb equivalent aimed to provide for refugees, they can organise what is known as an "idea hold-up"—an event where volunteers can brainstorm to design the future site, optimise how it operates, etc. That's where the idea of a "citizen hold-up" comes from. It's a matter of taking good ideas and initiatives, and putting them to work for social entrepreneurs. Such events have gotten our name out there—but that's only one of many accessible tools. Volunteers can also get involved with projects over the long term.
Why have you joined the EDF Pulse Awards jury?
We are clearly facing huge social and environmental challenges. If we must wait for social entrepreneurship startups to fully develop, these problems will never be solved. But if we can create coalitions that unite large companies, public authorities, and social entrepreneurs, we'll be able to solve some difficult problems—whether its a matter of fixing the education system, or accelerating energy transition. I believe that this transition needs to be a gradual, collective undertaking. It shouldn't turn into a clash between new players and old models. There should be solidarity. EDF needs these visionaries to explore new opportunities—and young, innovative companies need EDF's clout in order to reach millions of consumers. That's why I'm a part of the EDF Pulse Awards jury, and why I've invested in the EDF Foundation as an administrator. I believe that the EDF Pulse Awards are truly the best way to meet new players. I hope to find projects that are ready to join our incubator to work on their social aspects. To this end, I am particularly interested in projects that focus on energy poverty.
What criteria did you use to judge the finalists?
The projects that really caught my eye are those whose development model takes their social and environmental impact into consideration. That's really the lens I used to judge the quality of a given project. What problem is it going to solve? And will it work on a large scale? Let's be ambitious. Let's find projects that are going to change the playing field—and at a global level when it comes to transitioning to renewable energy sources!