Make Sense Forward

MakeSense stands for refugees

11 November Nov 2015 1139 11 November 2015
  • ...

MakeSense, the global movement promoting social entrepreneurship, launches an international mobilization for refugees together with SINGA France. Christian Vanizette, MakeSense co-founder, speaks about the campaign, that will finish at the end of the year.

MakeSense, the global movement that connects social entrepreneurs with volunteers all around the world ready to take up their challenges, has launched an international mobilization to help tackle the refugee emergency.

In order to do so they have partnered with SINGA, a community based in Paris that connects refugees with members of the society around their passions, projects, or interests. The campaign will finish at the end of the year and everyone can get involved.

In just 4 years MakeSense has mobilized more than 20,000 volunteers in 100 cities all over the world to solve the most pressing social problems.
MakeSense will use the same mobilization tools that it uses to help social entrepreneurs for the refugee emergency.

As Christian Vanizette, co-founder of MakeSense, explains: “We don't help refugees directly, but we mobilize people around the world to solve their challenges. We spot social entrepreneurs who work with refugees on the field and ask them about their organizational or innovation challenges in order to better do their missions at a bigger scale. Then our volunteers engage to solve these challenges during 2 hour sessions and if they connect well with the entrepreneurs they continue working with them to implement the ideas.”

MakeSense has a citizen involvement approach to help solve society's most pressing problems, in the convinction that, in order to solve a problem, it is necessary for different players to join forces: a collective action of social entrepreneurs, citizens and governments.
Google has recently recognized MakeSense as one of the most innovative projects in France, using technologies and digital tools to change the world. The project is one of the 10 associations out of 300 nominated to the Google Impact Challenge.

“After engaging with citizens and social entrepreneurs, once solutions have emerged, we ask our volunteers to start engaging and mobilizing the public administration to showcase these solutions and try getting them to think about scaling them. We want to replicate this approach on any cause and cities”, says Christian Vanizette.

Together with SINGA, MakeSense has identified three challenges that need to be targeted to solve the refugee crisis. The first challenge, a short term one, is to ensure refugees a safe passage to Europe. Then the second is to provide them with basic needs and information, while the third is to guarantee them social inclusion and economic opportunities, integrating them into society, because, as Christian Vanizette points out: “Our vision is to make sure that when refugees arrive in our country they are considered as people creating opportunities and not as people to be looked after. ”
This last one is a long term objective whose goal is to integrate refugees within10-15 years.

“It is important to react to the crisis, but it is also important in the longer term to create a society where inclusion is ensured and where refugees can contribute to make our society a better place”, says Guillaume Capelle, co-founder of Singa.

MakeSense has sourced entrepreneurs working on these three challenges in France and Germany and they are looking for other organizations working in the same field elsewhere in Europe and Middle Eastern countries.

For example MakeSense has helped SOS Méditérranée, a Franco-German ngo that has launched the first European initiative for the rescue of refugees at sea, using a crowdfunding campaign.
The campaign has proven very successful, with more than 270,000 euros raised.

How the MakeSense refugee effort was born
The campaign was born in Berlin last April. For a month MakeSense mobilized 800 people to solve the challenges of more than 15 organisations that work in Berlin and help refugees. This is the approach that they have used.

"Soon afterwards the MakeSense community in Paris, having seen the excellent results of what had been done in Berlin thanks to social media has also decided to engage on this issue launching a partnership with SINGA. Together we have organized the first hackaton in France for refugees. Out of this hackaton came the idea of CALM-Comme à la Maison which is like an airbnb to host refugees.

Singa's challenge was to find a way to connect at scale French and refugees arriving in the country for a better integration straight after arriving. That is how the CALM-Comme à La Maison idea emerged.
"CALM has already received more than 3000 French hosts ready to put refugees up”, highlights Christian Vanizette.

“After those two first mobilization and as the refugees crisis was getting bigger, more and more volunteers started to create local actions in their cities. As a results seeing all those signals and willingness of engagement from citizens in the MakeSense community we decided that it could be great to encourage this momentum and launch a global mobilization until the end of the year”, Christian Vanizette points out.

"MakeSense operates on the basis of the willingness of citizens. When we see that there is a cause they really care about and that the MakeSense international community can have an added value, then we engage", explains Vanizette.

MakeSense started with a trip to Asia in 2010. In order to tackle the refugee issue different MakeSense members, called Gangsters, have undertaken trips.

Like Ismail Chaib, MakeSense's Berlin connector, who went to the Greek island of Lesbos in October (where 4000-5000 migrants arrive from Turkey every day) on a project called Startupboat along with 30 other volunteers, planning to get a first-hand experience of the situation and identify solutions for the refugee crisis. This experience “made me realize ensuring refugees’ a safe passage to Europe should be a priority for all of us”, says Ismail Chaib.

And Daniel, who pioneered the mobilization on the refugee issue in Germany, and has just ended his European tour to meet social entrepreneurs working with refugees. Back in Germany, he then took part in the jury for incubator boosting refugee projects.

Everybody can join the mobilization at and help move the Refugee Crisis Forward.

Cover photo: Christian Vanizette, Make Sense co-founder, and Alizée Lozac'hmeur, founder of SenseCube accelerator.