Part of the UNRIC’s Benelux desk’s #SDGActor series
MolenGeek is a social enterprise based in the municipality of Molenbeek (Belgium). It helps young people, students, job seekers, but also the elderly who are not familiar with the online world, to get to know about new technologies and their applications.
Mutual help at the roots of MolenGeek
The founder of MolenGeek, Ibrahim Ouassari, was born to a family of eight siblings. Some of them became engineers and judges, but he could not adapt to school life and left at the age of 13.
He began to work and became interested in computers and information technology. One day, he asked a question on a forum about a program and people immediately offered answers and solutions! “There are a lot of people like me all over the world, who help each other for no particular reason other than to just be helpful,” he explains.
For many young people around him it was difficult to start working life, due in part to a lack of computer skills and knowledge of new technologies in general. “It was for them that I wanted to start MolenGeek”.
A “safe place” for everyone
At MolenGeek, “mutual help” is the slogan. The company offers long and short-term training courses. It has a “Coding School” and a common workspace, “cowork”, where “MolenGeekers” can get to know, inspire and help each other.
This workspace is free, but those who use it must in return contribute to the MolenGeek community by participating in events or by sharing knowledge with others.
“We’re a big family here. I feel completely integrated, accepted and listened to,” said Sana, a 27-year-old student who completed a 6-month digital marketing course.
The training courses for job seekers are free, so they have a better chance of finding a job that is meaningful to them.
Involving women and the elderly
What matters to the company is not who the people are, but their skills and, above all, the common goal that brings them together: the desire to learn and grow. MolenGeek also wants to reach and encourage women to participate in the training courses.
The integration of the elderly is another of the founder’s priorities: “There are fewer and fewer services for people without Internet access”. Ibrahim is planning to create “grandparent-grandchild duos for fun family activities” in the future.
An idea that is growing internationally
The combination of free access to the “Coding School” for job seekers with a special teaching method and a space open to everyone is a formula for success.
The long-term training courses attract an average of 400 people per year and 2,000 people take short-term courses (1 to 4 days) each year.
MolenGeek is internationally oriented and continues to grow. The company is now active in eight European cities: Charleroi, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Padua and soon Laken.
Inclusion of an organization in the Benelux series of “SDG Actors” does not reflect UNRIC’s views and does not imply its endorsement.