Charles-Edo Vincent is the Founder and Managing Director of Lulu Dans Ma Rue. Charles began his career at Netscape in 1996. He subsequently spent 10 years working in sales and marketing positions in the software industry. In 2005, he joined Emmaüs France, and experienced first-hand the issues Emmaüs faces within the economy. In 2007, he founded a system of social integration - Emmaüs Defi.
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Emmaus Défi’s holistic model to activate homeless people through employment was devised in order to tackle the deep-seated issues that have led them to live on the streets in the first place. By offering a homeless person a flexible framework and access to part-time work, they resell recycled and donated products for a fair prize in Emmaus Défi stores.
The organization employs most exclusively people in a precarious housing situation and aims at recreating a social link. Unlike existing social employment companies, this model is not contingent on a weekly or 24 hour per week contracts that discourage participation. At the beginning, the homeless person may work only a few hours per week, but this “social employment” system economically empowers fragile men and women living on the streets to become agents of change in their own lives and become progressively reintegrated into society.
As a social enterprise that provides a solution to the re-inclusion of people in a precarious housing situation, Emmaus Défi has various projects that characterize it. In partnership with SFR, a prominent French telecommunications company, Emmaus Connect has launched the ‘solidarity connections’ project that offers a ‘pay as you go’ internet access at a considerably lower price to homeless people in several strategic locations across major cities. Seven internet locations have already been opened in France that currently impact over 5,000 people. In 2014, Emmaus Défi predicts to open 20 internet locations thus having an impact on 12,000 people.
Emmaus Défi has also partnered with Carrefour, a big supermarket chain in France, to launch the first Solidarity Bank that re-sells non sold furniture for a significant lower price for low income families. The project stemmed from the issue that for low income families, furnishing their houses is often costly and thus unaffordable. Alongside this, the Solidarity Bank also favours the recycling of the unsold furniture and up to date, 400 families have already benefitted from this model.