In July 2019, Céline Fernandez, a Digital Communications Manager based in Paris, spent two weeks teaching 70 Peruvian social entrepreneurs marketing and digital communication techniques as part of the Congés Solidaires® programme offered by the Thales Foundation.
The municipality of Miraflores, in Lima, Peru, wanted to offer marketing and digital communication training to the social entrepreneurs in its incubator. With the cost of this type of training well above its budget and online courses too basic to meet its needs, the municipality turned to Planète Urgence, an NGO that runs the Congés Solidaires programme, to find a volunteer trainer. “They needed a customised training that could provide certification and have a real impact on the work of these entrepreneurs,” said Victoire from Planète Urgence.
Céline, a digital communications expert who has worked in Thales’s Communications Department since 2016, also has experience in corporate marketing and export sales. When she heard about the assignment, she immediately volunteered. “It came at the perfect time… I felt a need to share my skills and experience with projects that could have a real impact on the lives of individuals and their community.” .
The beneficiaries’ backgrounds were as varied as their projects. Participants included a young mother trying to develop more flexible work arrangements in businesses in Lima, students searching for a new, positive way to promote important Peruvian initiatives and culture, a banker looking to expand his collaborative fundraising services, and others. Some came to help grow their business, while others were there to enhance their social media presence, develop social influence marketing strategies, or simply define their business plan.
To meet all of their needs, Céline divided her efforts between training and individual mentoring. She prepared and led two 3-hour workshops in which participants learned the basics of digital communication and looked at more in-depth topics such as web page optimisation, new trends and more. Then she held individual meetings with 20 entrepreneurs to discuss specific issues and their action plans.
In the final evaluation, over 90% of participants said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the course. “I am still working with several of them remotely and they let me know how their projects are doing.” . Planète Urgence will conduct a more in-depth review of the impact of her training and mentoring six months and one year later.
Céline returned from her assignment feeling motivated and enriched by the experience. “I spent two weeks in an environment where people are doing everything they can to accomplish their dreams. I was particularly impressed by Jacqueline’s project to help women get back to work after cancer. I coached her on how to develop an editorial line for her Facebook page, website and YouTube channel. Her end goal is to start a school where these women can train others in new skills so they can use their abilities to help their community and regain confidence in themselves and their future.”
As part of the Congés Solidaires® pilot programme, launched in October 2018, five Thales employees have already chosen an assignment from over 300 projects focused on two charity objectives:
- Training adults (women’s groups, artisans, cooperatives) in computing, project management, marketing, communications, etc.
- Providing socio-educational support to at-risk youth within local educational networks: academic support, socio-educational activities, thematic activities, etc.
The Foundation covers the cost of the assignment for up to 2,500 euros, which includes the training cost, assignment preparation and management expenses, lodging and other on-site living expenses. The Foundation is currently considering renewing the programme in 2020.