Uyolo, the social network with social impact that charmed BNP Paribas Cardif

Among the winners of the 2018 edition of Open-F@b Call4Ideas, Uyolo is an innovative digital platform to promote strategic philanthropy and active citizenship. The challenge is to turn it into a tool used by companies: one of the first to test this innovative solution by BNP Paribas Cardif

22 Apr 2019

Switch from social networking status for individual users to a tool used in companies. For Uyolo the victory of Open-F@b Call4Ideas 2018, the call promoted by BNP Paribas Cardif, is not only a source of satisfaction and pride. But a step to grow the business: “BNP Paribas Cardif will test the product in the company” says Alessandra Gargiulo, co-founder of the startup that won third place in the call launched by the insurance company dedicated to positive impact innovation. 

And the sector could not be more appropriate: because Uyolo is a community dedicated to those who want to change the world. Easy said, hard done. But not for Alessandra Gargiulo and her team: “Talking about collaboration, welcome and cooperation in a social context like ours is certainly not easy. But maybe that’s exactly why we need it,” says the young entrepreneur. However, to understand why such a young startup (founded in April 2018, in the same year, after a few months it won the international Open-F@b contest) has aroused the interest of a player like BNP Paribas Cardif with whom it is about to start a path of open innovation, we need to start from the beginning. That’s how Uyolo was born and what he has in mind. 

Uyolo, the Instagram for social impact 

Uyolo is an Instagram for social impact, a social network that aims to inspire young people to become actors of change. It is “an innovative digital platform to promote strategic philanthropy and active citizenship. The Uyolo App combines the logic of social networking with a micro-donations platform and allows users to interact and donate to the causes they are most interested in through a simple like” says founder Alessandra Gargiulo. 

Uyolo provides an easy, fun and rewarding way to raise awareness among young people about important and current social and environmental issues, such as the global migration crisis and climate change. It provides not only a window on the world, but also an opportunity to engage and make a difference in everyday life,” continues the young entrepreneur who relies on the Millennials generation to initiate change. Few fundraising platforms have the capacity to involve young people every day. Instead, Uyolo aims to address the growing call of the Millennials for impact and social justice, thanks to its simple and attractive interface and an approach based on full transparency and trust. The non-profit associations to which users can donate, in fact, are all certified by Uyolo after a selection process aimed at ensuring transparency and reliability. 

Created with the aim of democratizing philanthropy and making it more accessible, innovative and engaging, the platform already hosts over 300 users and 15 non-profit organizations from different countries, including Tanzania, India, Lithuania, Ukraine, France, Italy and the United States. 

 “Uyolo’s vision is to promote philanthropy and volunteerism among young people while supporting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations in 2015 to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity by 2030,” the founder points out. Milanese, 27 years old, after a degree in international affairs at the American University of Rome, he attended a master’s degree in cooperation and development in Paris. During her master’s degree she will attend a six-month internship in South Africa in 2014. “I used to do management consulting for some non-profit associations and worked with some local companies to help them find projects to invest in,” she says. It is during this experience that Alessandra notes something particular about the world of non-profit associations: “We are willing to donate to the associations that have more visibility and we do not know the small local realities that often, although unknown, are more effective because they are in contact with the local people. The lack of transparency and trust also affects company donations,” she explains. So she decided to carry out a questionnaire to analyse people’s attitudes towards donations: “Many people have confirmed that when they become aware through the media of situations of discomfort and need, they would like to help but don’t know how to do it because they don’t know where to start and who to trust. Everyone said that if they trusted nonprofits and knew who to donate to, they’d donate twice as much. This gave rise to the idea of creating a platform that would link certified associations that can be trusted with users and companies,” says the young Milanese woman. 

In April 2018, the startup Uyolo was founded with headquarters in Milan and offices also in Paris. The name comes from the word “Xhosa” which means happiness. Alessandra Gargiulo is joined by Yetoe Menye Akakpo Guetou (originally from Togo but in Italy for sixteen years, social network expert) and Audrey Solène Touboulic (French, works in Singapore with a network of Asian philanthropists). The aim: to contribute to the development of an ethical and sustainable economy. A target that does not go unnoticed by BNP Paribas Cardif. 

The path of Open Innovation with BNP Paribas Cardif 

The victory of Open-Fa@b Call4Ideas is decisive in Uyolo’s growth path. “Thanks to the support of BNP Paribas Cardif we are planning a launch event for June 2019, on the occasion of the Festival of Sustainable Development, to promote the project” continues Alessandra Gargiulo. Not only that. BNP Paribas Cardif has offered to test the product at a company level: “We are developing the offer we are going to propose to companies together with the Company. Our goal, in fact, is to help companies promote their corporate social responsibility initiatives,” continues the founder. So far, in fact, the Uyolo app has been used by individuals. But the things you can do with Uyolo at the corporate level are different: “Organize corporate volunteering events, opportunities for employees to donate a portion of their salary or benefits, or dedicate their skills to support a non-profit organization. Specifically, with BNP Paribas Cardif we are thinking of a product based on the possibility of giving insurance to those who need it,” the entrepreneur points out. And he concludes: “This is not only a way of doing business in solidarity but also an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the company and employees or customers when they decide to share the same ideals. 

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