Covid-Solidarity: how technology is joining forces to #HelpYourNeighbours

COVID-19 has struck society in all of its facets. However, how people are dealing with this is simply heart-warming at times. More and more initiatives are calling for solidarity with our fellow citizens who need it the most. Even if we need to keep 6 feet apart, society is still showing its social & human side.

A beautiful example is Covid-Solidarity. It’s an initiative that matches people in need with volunteers to give them a hand in their daily grocery shopping. Initially, it started as a joint effort of Belgian entrepreneurs. Yet soon, it grew to a solid cooperation between different European technology partners.

At Cumul.io, we got the chance to collaborate with Covid-Solidarity, and took the opportunity with both hands. We are both grateful and proud that we can support the greater good by making smart use of data.

What is Covid-solidarity?

So, what is Covid-Solidarity actually? It’s a non-profit startup that connects people in need with volunteers who are willing to assist them in their essential shopping. Both volunteers and those in need can contact Covid-solidarity to express their interest to help or be helped. They do the matchmaking of people that live in the same area, in order to find the best match for help nearby.

Covid-Solidarity helps people in need with their essential shopping needs

Basically, the volunteer will do the essential shopping in the supermarkets, pharmacies, bakeries etc. for someone in need. They deliver it to their home, while still respecting the social distancing.

The startup has been very successful so far, and has been covered in the Belgian media a couple of times. Through their initiative, already more than 800 people were able to find help with their grocery shopping.

A collaboration between existing technology companies

We talked to Belgian entrepreneur Olivier Rousseaux, one of the driving forces behind Covid-Solidarity. He started with the idea, but soon many other entrepreneurs and tech companies joined him to further build this non-profit movement:

“In a crisis like this, you always bring the most value in an area where help is needed the most. For example in Belgium, you noticed very fast that an older segment of the population was most heavily impacted by the virus. Residential care centers were hit hard. So, it was obvious that we could make a much bigger difference for this segment.”

Olivier Rousseaux, Founder of Covid-Solidarity

To build something valuable fast, it was essential to have agile partners to collaborate with. This is why Covid-Solidarity relies upon the existing ecosystem of technology companies:

“Technology provides impact directly. If we would work with consulting partners, they’d have to build something custom from scratch. But we had no time to lose. So, we decided to work with mature startups like Cumul.io for analytics, or Aircall for setting up a virtual call center. We could just use these off-the-shelf solutions to quickly focus on what matters most in these time: helping the most isolated people.”

Olivier Rousseaux, Founder of Covid-Solidarity

Olivier refers to their collaboration as a kind of “Human API”. They are plugging together different technologies, but all of it happens with a very human goal in mind: to help the people who need it the most.

Covid-Solidarity team

How data helped simplify the matchmaking process

Cumul.io came into the picture when the Covid-Solidarity team started to grow. Olivier explains:

“It’s always challenging to manage a team of fully remote workers. But when you don’t have a full roadmap yet, this is even harder. At this point, we understood we needed some kind of ‘common ground’ to make decisions based on facts. Cumul.io was the perfect fit: now, our dashboards help us to make the right decisions moving forward as a team, completely driven by our data.”

Olivier Rousseaux, Founder of Covid-Solidarity

The team is using dashboards mainly to map the matchmaking process. This shows them at a glance:

  • Which media are most effective to find new matches
  • How people found out about the initiative
  • Which regions have the most matches

Cumul.io dashboard for Covid-Solidarity

This helps the team at Covid-Solidarity to constantly track what is the best next step in their action plan. Which media & channels should they focus on to gain more awareness? How do they get in touch more easily with the people in need? Which geographical areas should they focus on? The dashboards help them answer these questions at a glance.

What Olivier likes about this project, is that the data can actually be used for a greater good. He feels data analysis is often associated with operational excellence, in the sense that it cuts costs and gains profit. However, their non-profit startup proves that data can also support society on a human level:

“In this initiative, Cumul.io and its team are so much more than a dashboarding tool, or data scientist for us. They are an enabler. A helping hand to make our social initiative better, so we can efficiently match more people in need with volunteers to help them out.”

Olivier Rousseaux, Founder of Covid-Solidarity

Proud to join forces with Covid-Solidarity!

We are proud to work together with Olivier and the team on this project. It is heart-warming to see such solidarity in difficult times like these. We’re grateful that data can contribute to bringing people closer together. 🤗

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