Corporate > Citizenship
How Molenbeek Turned into ‘MolenGeek’
In an effort to create new opportunities for the youth in the Brussels municipality of Molenbeek, Samsung has joined forces with a dynamic team of young entrepreneurs who are actively transforming the neighborhood into a seedbed of innovation.
MolenGeek, a relatively new initiative born from a public-private partnership, is no ordinary workspace. Here, young entrepreneurs in the neighborhood can use the space to launch their own innovative startup, while being surrounded by like-minded participants and having access to professional training resources.
This initiative brings positive hope for all young people of Molenbeek, a neighborhood that was once tied to terrorism, most recently after the 2016 bombings in Brussels. In fact, key national Belgian media have reported how Molenbeek’s young citizens of all ethnic backgrounds, genders and religions are harnessing their potential to build a brighter future, through projects like MolenGeek. These projects will hopefully help reduce the high youth unemployment rate in the area – which now exceeds 30 percent. A whopping 136 young entrepreneurs have already joined MolenGeek, and are actively building their own projects and cultivating their skills through various training programs.
In the coming months, the center is expected to offer a host of new programs for participants of different age groups. While the majority of the MolenGeek community is over the age of 18, children between 7 and 12 will soon be able to attend digital workshops, while youngsters between 12 and 18 can join the Supercoders program, where they can learn more about coding.
Additionally, regular Hackathon events will continue to be held, allowing young minds to collaborate to create new products and services that can help alleviate societal challenges. Last year, the projects were centered on improving emergency services and facilitating mobility for people with disabilities. In 2017, they will turn their focus to creating a circular economy and enhancing education.
In this way, MolenGeek is not only tackling youth unemployment but also empowering participants to use their skills and knowledge to build a better world.
On January 13, one year of hard work culminated in the official inauguration of the business center. During the ceremony, key representatives of the public-private partnership behind MolenGeek, such as Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Agenda Alexander De Croo and United States Ambassador Denise Campbell Bauer, applauded the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the center’s young talents, and acknowledged the added value of its corporate partnerships.
The members of the MolenGeek community were eager to present the products of their work, such as a virtual reality app to simulate the challenges that people with disabilities experience when using public transport.
While the federal government backs these creative minds with considerable support for the new business center, companies like Samsung and Google are helping out by bringing in logistic support and digital expertise.Samsung will not only support the MolenGeek community with its products, but also through the sharing of the knowledge and experience of its employees. By engaging its experts, Samsung hopes to help train the young talents at MolenGeek about the newest trends in the digital technology sector, and coach them while they develop their ideas in key digital fields such as the Internet of Things.
“Samsung, as a corporate citizen, is pleased to help young people gain valuable skills that will help them find a job in the 21st century, while also inspiring, empowering and cooperating with young digital entrepreneurs,” said Hoon Chung, President of Samsung Electronics Benelux.
Through its partnership with MolenGeek, Samsung remains committed to empowering the young people of the world to grow as entrepreneurs and to become leaders of innovation in society.