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A Brighter Molenbeek Thanks to ‘MolenGeek’
On the sidelines of this year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), representatives from Samsung, Belgian government officials, and a team of young entrepreneurs presented the success story of MolenGeek, an initiative designed to create opportunities for youth in the Brussels municipality of Molenbeek, as a best practice of public-private partnership that can change the future of a community.
The initiative is a good example of how Samsung’s technology and Global Corporate Citizenship Goals, which seek to promote education, employment and health, are contributing to creating a more inclusive society. And with technology a key part of so many industries today, the MolenGeek initiative demonstrates how Samsung is working to foster the technical entrepreneurship of young people as part of its citizenship aims.
Cultivating Change in Molenbeek
To support MolenGeek, Samsung has joined forces with the initiative’s dynamic team of founders as well as the Belgian government, to provide young aspiring entrepreneurs in Molenbeek with the space and resources to launch their own innovative startups. As a community previously linked to radicalism and disenfranchised youth, the initiative, seeks to provide a positive answer to the past negative outlook of the neighborhood.
In addition to providing technical and financial support to MolenGeek, Samsung has helped to establish a professional coding school to train young programmers. Samsung employees also actively participate in organizing events such as Hackathons and an Internet of Things (IoT) Challenge to provide mentorship for Molenbeek’s future digital entrepreneurs.
“In a logic of co-creation, Samsung’s support helps MolenGeek and its participants by making accessible a whole new world of technologies. Participants can now have access to the latest technologies for free. They also have access to a new way of skills acquisition based on learning by doing,” said Julie Foulon, who is one of the co-founders of MolenGeek.
As result of events like the Hackathons, brilliant startups have been created such as CitizenMap in April 2016. This was right after the terrorist attack in Brussels, which was thought to have been connected to radicalized youngsters in the district of Molenbeek. To contribute to the improvement of the emergency services, the creators of CitizenMap interviewed first aid and emergency services in Brussels to understand the IT challenges of the city, next collecting and mapping all the defibrillators in Belgium. A year later, in May 2017, CitizenMap was launched for a trial run with the Red Cross prior to its official release.
To date, the MolenGeek initiative has incubated 25 startups such as T-IL and QuickLyric. T-IL is an alternative tourism app based on the interests of its users. According to users’ tastes and preferences, T-IL recommends tourist spots when users travel in a specific country. QuickLyric allows users to download instantly the lyrics of the songs they are listening to, no matter what source they are using: Spotify, MP3, Deezer, Google Music or even radio. After almost six months, QuickLyric has registered over 500,000 downloads and is used in over 20 countries in more than 20 languages.
“MolenGeek is a best practice on how we can give young people a positive perspective for their future in a world that is increasingly digital and fast-evolving. This is a success story that the world needs to know,” said Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation of Belgium in his opening remarks during the presentation to the UNGA.
For Samsung and the partners behind MolenGeek, the success so far is only the beginning. More exciting results and innovations are expected ahead which will hopefully bring further positive impact to the lives of Molenbeek’s young people.