A ‘concierge service’ – taking care of errands and tasks people don’t have time for – seems a luxury most of us won’t splash our hard-earned money on. But a new French concept called ‘Lulu dans ma rue’ is the opposite of an exclusive service for the happy few. Founder Charles-Edouard Vincent’s focus is on creating work and rebuilding social connections in neighborhoods. He has set up an easy-access and affordable ‘conciergerie’ that connects locals that are looking for work opportunities and those that want a task or small job taken care off. French president Hollande is already a fan of ‘Lulu dans ma rue’.
A kiosk that functions as neighbourhood ‘hub’
At the pretty looking kiosk – ‘Lulu dans ma rue’ is present both offline and online – you can ask the concierge to connect you with somebody who can help you out with an one-time task you don’t have time for (walk your dog), hate to do (set up an IKEA closet) or don’t know how to do (fix a dripping tap). Getting the help of a ‘Lulu’ will cost you €5 for 20 minutes of service.
Who is ‘Lulu’?
A ‘Lulu’ can be anybody with time that wants to supplement their income, such as jobseekers, students or retirees. But it can also be somebody with specific skills, such as freelancers, looking to expand their network. The ‘Lulu’s’ are self-employed (micro)entrepreneurs who invoice the services provided to ‘Lulu dans ma rue’, which manages the customers, offers mentoring for the Lulus and organizes contact between the two parties. Clients can publish an assessment of the service provided on a platform. ‘Lulu’s’ can work in this way for a month, 6 months or even 10 years. It’s a new form of integration by work: every provider enhances his employability and expands his network.
Founder Vincent’s mission is to make work accessible for everyone.
“I try to reinvent all these little jobs that make people feel useful. My conviction is that nobody has no skills. Everybody knows how to do something. I want to make sure that we are able to have everybody express their ability, their skills, their talent.”
Demand for the occasional helping hand
In a society that is becoming more and more individualistic, it seems fewer people are willing or able to do the odd job for each other. But ‘Lulu dans ma rue’ shows that the demand for the occasional helping hand isn’t gone though. In their first month of existence – april 2015 – the organization received 311 orders and carried out 225 service assignments. More than 3.500 people visited the kiosk and the ‘Lulu dans ma rue’ website had more than 10.000 visitors.
By reinventing the concierge services, ‘Lulu dans ma rue’ creates a local community of people helping each other out and, in the process, rebuilds social connections and trust in neighbourhoods that has often been lost in big cities.
Backing of president Hollande
Currently only the 4th arrondissement in Paris is lucky enough to have a Lulu kiosk but Vincent’s plan is to expand to other districts in Paris and cities in France soon. He even has the backing of the French president Francois Hollande who has chosen the venture as one of 15 projects that will receive support this year.
“Whatever happens we will have generated some humanity in our everyday life and that’s beautiful to be part of”