Did you know that even in 2020, 22% of French people are still on the wrong side of the digital divide? Which means that around 15 million people in France have no access to a computer or don’t have the ability to use one. Unfortunately for them, the majority of central government services and official procedures are now digital. With its 100% Made-in-France connected booth, WeeM makes those services and procedures accessible to everyone.
The soundproofed WeeM uses a giant tablet connected to the internet via its own high-speed modem to provide access to a broad range of official services: the Pôle Emploi national employment service, the CAF benefits agency, EDF customer service, and a raft of other legal, health and housing services. An operator video call service gives users immediate access to help if they need it. Inside the booth, users are insulated against external noise and can access the services they need in total privacy. Confidentiality is key to the WeeM concept, because it can also be used to contact victim support services to report harassment, domestic violence or other types of violence. With around fifty cabins up and running in September this year, WeeM hopes to have 1,000 booths in operation around France by 2022.
Category: Resilient Infrastructures
Led by Emmanuel Ratel, the WeeM management committee is made up of seasoned entrepreneurs and experts in marketing and business strategy, supported by a team packed with complementary skills, and an extensive network of technical partners.
WeeM co-founder Sylvain Le Chatton is also mayor of a village in the Oise department of northern France. During a meeting, he told us about how powerless he feels about those he calls "the forgotten outsiders of the digital world". Every day, he comes into contact with constituents who are anxious because they can’t submit a tax return, have no access to a proper net connection or are uncomfortable with having to ask their already busy children to help them with official paperwork. So WeeM was born out of the desire to include those who are left powerless by digitalisation.
What are the most recent developments for your start-up?
We've just completed our funding round, and we’ve been successful in raising just over €1 million from business angels. Alongside that, we also launched our new range and incorporated telemedicine services into our WeeMs.
What’s been the most unexpected thing that’s happened as a result of the start-up?
The most unexpected event in this adventure was undoubtedly the opportunity to present the WeeM production model to Bruno Le Maire, the French Minister of the Economy and Finance, at Vivatech 2019. Our presentation highlighted the relevance of the ‘Made In France’ model.
So how does your project revolutionise your category?
WeeM has the nerve to bring forward a solution for those who have been forgotten and excluded from today’s society. The transition to digital isn’t a ‘magic’ solution, because it leaves a lot of people behind and outside the digital world. As responsible entrepreneurs, we want to deliver a practical response to those on the wrong side of the digital divide. We also hope that this initiative will improve the appeal of rural communities. Our vision of the digital world is a very human one, and one we want to share.