‘The opportunity to work with young people passionate about technology was like a dream come true’

It comes as no surprise that GoodUp and Accenture have partnered up. GoodUp offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase thousands of diverse projects around the world, contributing to a better world. ‘Together we can truly impact the lives of millions of people all over the world.’

‘Matching visionaries, people with great ideas, with achievers, people who want to use their time, money and skills, to do something amazing.’ According to GoodUp’s website, that’s what the organization specializes in. With this mission in mind, it is no surprise that GoodUp and Accenture partnered up. ‘Together we can truly impact the lives of millions of people all over the world.’

Rewind to 2008, when Anna Chojnacka met Bart Lacroix and decided to join forces. They believed in the idea of being innovative when it came to making a positive impact in the world. ‘Basically, we wanted to do everything differently than existing social development organizations. More than anything, we wanted to take a professional approach to philanthropic projects in order to maximize their impact,’ says Anna.

Accenture partnership with GoodUp - Anna Chojnacka , Bart Lacroix
‘Essentially, we aim to solve global problems by harvesting and activating the power of the crowd, and to grow that crowd as much as possible. Our motto is simple: the bigger the crowd, the bigger the impact! The world faces numerous challenges that are all solved in a vacuum, while there is an abundance of knowledge, resources and expertise that can solve problems a lot quicker. Through our initiatives that we offer companies, cities and communities, we hope to connect with the right people in order to contribute to that quicker solution and, thus, a better world,’ Anna states.

From 1%Club to GoodUp

Launched as the 1%Club in 2008, GoodUp was the first Dutch crowdsourcing platform - a word that didn’t even exist back then. A year later, they entered the Accenture Innovation Awards. It was love at first sight: Innovation Lead Pieter Paul van Oerle was a fan of the 1%Club straight away. Even though they didn’t win the competition - they ended, very respectably, in the top three losing to Buienradar - seeds for the partnerships were sown there and then.

A decade later, things have evolved amazingly. From humble beginnings (think a small and somewhat shabby office in Amsterdam), the ever-passionate Bart and Anna now manage a 25-strong team of highly driven employees in a stylish warehouse-turned-office space. The 1%Club brand and platform still exists; in 2016 GoodUp was launched as a companion project, OR was launched in conjunction with it. It’s grown from being a B2C platform where individual projects could be promoted on to a Software-as-a-Service product where entire GoodUp platforms can be advertised. GoodUp no longer relies on subsidies, and has become a self-supporting organization that offers entrepreneurs the chance to showcase thousands of diverse projects around the world. All of which focus on various sectors of society, allowing people from all walks of life to contribute to a better world.   

Skills to Succeed

‘It’s one of the many reasons why we highly value our partnership with GoodUp,’ says René Hoogeveen, Accenture’s Sponsor of the partnership. ‘It’s fantastic to be able to make a difference by simply connecting the right people and platforms. We strongly believe in the ‘Skills to Succeed’ project we run through GoodUp - which has already raised over €32,000 through crowdfunding and successfully launched over forty projects around the world. Accenture’s employees have a strong desire to “do good” - like most employees these days. Accenture’s employees possess knowledge, skills and expertise that can truly contribute to a greater world, and thus, Accenture and GoodUp is a perfect match. With this collaboration, we have the opportunity to maximize our impact even more. When they kick-start a new project, Accenture expands its reach, too. It’s a classic win-win situation.’

Today’s buzzword

Having an impact, doing good: why is it so important these days? Anna: ‘In this day and age, purpose is what it’s all about: purpose-driven companies employ people who have a personal purpose. I think it’s great: it means people are aware of themselves and their potential to contribute to society. These days, people - and not just millennials! - are very selective when it comes to which company they want to work for. “What does my company do for others and how do I contribute?” There has also been a shift from a focus on User Experience to Employee Experience - from UX to EX, as the key driver for growth,’ Anna explains. ‘By having an authentic purpose, a company is actively acting on the number one driver to boost its Employee Experience.’

What does my company do for others and how do I contribute?

‘The way a company deals with its employees and clients has become one of the most important factors that can make or break it. Moreover, translating that purpose into an authentic action is crucial. But you can’t just talk the talk; you have to walk the walk. GoodUp offers a great platform to show the world how to turn your purpose into action, show you’re genuine about it and indicate what the actual impact is. The platform efficiently measures the impact of all projects, and Accenture has been using it for years.’

Employees of modern companies are assigned a number of hours per year to spend on volunteering. At Accenture, this even adds up to 24 hours per year per employee, to spend on a social project of their choice. What’s more, there’s also the possibility to work full-time on a pro bono basis for one of GoodUp’s projects, which is what Senior Manager Jeroen Louman did. In 2012, he boarded a plane to Nairobi, Kenya, for a six-month stint at Nailab - an accelerator of technology startups in East Africa.

Accenture partnership GoodUp - Jeroen  Louman

‘Things just came together’

‘I always knew I wanted to utilize my knowledge and experience in a completely different environment than I have been working in for over a decade,’ says Jeroen. ‘While searching for the right assignment I met Anna and Bart, who shared their ambition for Nailab. The need to professionalize and become self-sustainable required exactly my type of skills and experience. The pieces of the puzzle came together. The opportunity to work with young and ambitious people who are passionate about “my” technology industry and help them to mature within a completely different cultural setting was like a dream come true. I was able to spend 50 percent of my time working for Nailab and helping them professionalize as an accelerator, and the other half on working closely with the startups that were on board. I loved every minute of it.’

‘I have always felt passionate about giving something back to society. The fact that I have knowledge, experience, skills and energy to offer organizations that could really need it made it a no-brainer. This meant that I could offer them fundamental knowledge on how to market their proposition, execute their market research and create the strongest business case. Ultimately, it meant they could take their startup to the next level. Especially in Kenya, a startup hub with great potential, there’s a huge need to differentiate in order to be successful. By offering them skills to succeed, networking options and access to funding, some of the startups grew into very successful businesses, employing dozens of people – those are now people who have become financially self-sufficient. Another example: one of the startups was recently sold to an international conglomerate for millions of dollars - how fantastic is that?’

Helping someone who has great ideas, but lacks the resources, is nothing short of amazing

‘All in all, it was a life-changing experience for me: the moment you see the sparkle in the eyes of someone who suddenly “gets it” is priceless. It sounds like a terrible cliché, but helping someone who has great ideas, but lacks the resources, is nothing short of amazing.’

Battling students

Another inspiring GoodUp project was one they organized with Accenture: the Student Battle. As René explains: ‘Goodup and Accenture selected a number of projects and assigned them to teams of ambitious Dutch students, coached by an Accenture employee. Over a few months, students were asked to conceptualize a long-term vision for their project, and through whatever means necessary, come up with a sustainable and feasible solution for the project’s longevity. It’s the ultimate combination of matching knowledge, drive and energy, which then leads to practical and efficient solutions. The victors and their coach were awarded the opportunity to visit the project they focused on. Those battles were not only fantastic, thanks to the enormous inspiration and energy around the event, but some led to interesting business cases. For instance, a project focusing on painting shacks in Brazilian favelas resulted in the launch of a Dutch company called Fairf, which produces sustainable paint. Through their foundation - Fairf Charity Projects - they were able to open a plant in a favela in Rio de Janeiro, offering jobs to locals.’

Accenture partnership with GoodUp

‘We work together closely with a variety of great partners, but I must admit the partnership with Accenture stands out,’ says Anna. ‘Over the past eight years, whatever obstacle, dilemma or challenge we encountered, we could always contact Accenture, and they would always be available to offer advice or a solution. Whether it be in a practical sense - we have had numerous Accenture employees work on a pro bono basis at our office for a while to implement Salesforce or DevOps, or provide a workshop on how to best strategize our international ambitions, or just as a valuable sparring partner. Accenture is a very hands-on partner that isn’t afraid to let us know when something needs to be done better or more efficiently. Undoubtedly, it’s one of our most valuable partnerships.’

Exponential success

‘The feeling is mutual,’ says René with a smile on his face. ‘We are extremely proud of the fact that GoodUp managed to become the successful, self-sufficient organization they are today. The partnership has evolved: GoodUp has gone from being an Accenture-sponsored partner to being the platform supplying all projects that increase our employee engagement. From a personal perspective, I love how working closely with GoodUp and their energetic, enthusiastic teams enables us to contribute to a better world. By helping GoodUp realize their goals, we too achieve ours ten-fold. Together we can truly impact the lives of millions of people all over the world.’

Author: Inge Abraham