VINCI Foundation testimonials – Ikambere charity

Cross-interview with Yannick Sauvebois, sponsor and Project Manager at VINCI Energies Systèmes d’Information and Bernadette Rwegera, President of the charity Ikambere.

Ikambere is first and foremost an inviting, friendly place in Saint-Denis that supports vulnerable women living with HIV. Every year, it works with 500 women, helping them to access healthcare, exercise their rights, find accommodation and employment, eat a balanced diet and take part in activities that build social ties and self-confidence.

  • How did this sponsorship start?

Yannick Sauvebois:

Our IT Director put out a call through the works council to all VINCI Energies Systèmes d’Information employees encouraging them to support a local charity working with the VINCI foundation. Straight away, I was interested in getting involved, so I applied and was picked to sponsor Ikambere. And that was 9 years ago! I’ve been working with the charity ever since.

Bernadette Rwegera:

We first heard about the VINCI foundation after applying to a call for proposals to seek funding to buy a van. We needed the van to set up and expand our idea to distribute food parcels to the women we support at Ikambere.

  • What kind of support does the VINCI foundation provide?

Bernadette Rwegera:

The VINCI foundation helps us in many ways. For example, they awarded us a grant to buy the van we needed to distribute food parcels and ride out the health crisis, which enabled us to put up homeless women in hotel rooms. We’re also able to benefit from the support of VINCI Energies employees through a skills sponsorship agreement with the foundation. These volunteers work hand in hand with our teams managing our IT and phone system.

Yannick Sauvebois:

Our primary role is to provide IT support. We offer assistance with the telephone system, where one Thursday afternoon a month we’re on site at the charity. We also offer user support and get together to brainstorm new ideas to improve their IT systems. Being on site means we’re able to sort out issues they wouldn’t necessarily have identified. The first thing we did was to equip and install an IT room, the “Cyber Space”. The people being helped by the charity use tech to keep in touch with their native land, learn to read and write, or put together a CV, and find work. We worked with our various departments to successfully migrate the charity to O365 software, which makes it easier for administrative staff to work remotely from a laptop. Recently, I moved the charity from ADSL to fibre optic broadband, and migrated the payroll software.

  •  What do you gain from this experience?

Yannick Sauvebois:

I really enjoy volunteering at the charity, because I know just how my efforts have an immediate impact. It gives more meaning to my job, as I can see the way in which the IT system helps the teams at Ikambere and the women they support to “grow”. I am also lucky enough to be able to share some nice moments with the team and the women. And that’s just really special!

Bernadette Rwegera:

We were lucky enough to be put in touch with Yannick Sauvebois, who’s been working with us for over eight years now. Yannick put together a team of volunteers who regularly put their skills to good use at Ikambere. It was thanks to this Dream Team that we were able to upgrade all our IT software so we were properly equipped to expand our action on the ground. Digitisation is a huge challenge for the charity sector, where budgets are often too tight to invest in the hardware and infrastructure required. The support provided by the VINCI Energies volunteer IT team is absolutely invaluable to us.

  •  What kind of positives do you think a buddy can take from this experience?

Yannick Sauvebois:

I think we enable sponsors to put their skills to use in support of a local public interest project. We have real needs and their involvement has an immediate impact on what we do.

  • What would you say to another charity thinking about submitting a project to the VINCI foundation?

Bernadette Rwegera:

I would advise them to submit a practical, precise and measurable project that would encourage VINCI Energies employees to get involved.

Set up in 2002, the Fondation VINCI pour la Cité supports projects that provide long-term solutions to the social and professional integration issues facing disadvantaged people. The foundation supports initiatives on the ground in areas near VINCI operations in France and Europe. It also encourages employee involvement and promotes social innovation within VINCI Energies business lines.

In order to adapt to the variety of situations locally and embed community engagement deep within the regions, the Fondation VINCI pour la cité supports the creation of foundations outside France. There are now 14 sponsorship structures that are taking long-term action to combat exclusion.

Germany: VINCI Stiftung für gesellschaftliche Verantwortung (VINCI Foundation for social responsibility)

Belgium: Fonds VINCI

Spain: Fundación VINCI España

Greece: Syndesmos VINCI

Netherlands: VINCI Foundation NL

Czech Republic: Nadace VINCI

United Kingdom: Isle of Wight Foundation

United Kingdom and Ireland: VINCI UK Foundation

Slovakia: Nadacia Granvia