Stéphane is empowering the most excluded youngsters to discover their inner self, express their ideas, actively participate in democracy and “reconnect” with society through public-speaking based educative experiences that are connected to real professional, cultural or civic opportunities.
Beginning with Seine-Saint-Denis - the youngest, most impoverished department in France (28.8% of the population is under twenty years old and 24.8% fall below the poverty line) - Stephane has pioneered a sixty-hour program that runs over six weeks at the University of Saint-Denis that mixes debate, rhetoric and theatre with professional coaching and a public speaking contest. This program, called Eloquentia, is a lever for students to connect to the business world, through sessions with business professionals that help them understand business norms and social codes, prepare for interviews and secure job opportunities. Eighty percent of students that have participated have reported increased self-confidence and seventy percent have found professional opportunities through Eloquentia’s seven corporate partners. Although university students go through the program, the public speaking contest is open to any individual living in Seine-Saint-Denis. Over hundred people participate each year but thousands are mobilized at the final event. Assisted by Stephane, teams of empowered students are now replicating Eloquentia in 4 other universities. In 2017, Eloquentia will organize the biggest University public speaking contest in France.
In order to reach a larger and younger audience, Stéphane has replicated the methodology into secondary schools, now impacting 57 out 125 secondary schools in 30 cities of Seine-Saint-Denis with different programs, including a student department council that empowers 114 ‘super school representatives’ (two in every secondary school) to strengthen their debating skills and actively animate and contribute to a democratic process within their school, through training sessions, discussions in schools twice a year and plenary assemblies three times a year. Within 4 years, Eloquentia has become the second non-profit organization impacting the largest number of youngsters in Seine-Saint-Denis, impacting more than 600 young people. In 2017, Stéphane will deploy a digital democracy tool to extend its impact scope by engaging 2500 secondary school students in real-life democracy processes.
Stéphane’s strategy also includes a strong media component. Throughout the process, Stéphane has strategically selected and engaged cultural icons (artists, opinion leaders, etc.) with very different views as mavens to create media traction and embody the fact that divergent opinions can provoke dialogue rather than violence. In November 2016, Stéphane released a truly inspiring documentary sharing the Eloquentia experience on a national TV channel in France. Within 7 days, it was seen about 1 million times – thus convincing more young people and potential partners to be a part of the Eloquentia adventure, and triggering a positive mindset change about marginalized youth.
In order to take his work a step further in effectively (re)creating wide social interactions between social groups, Stéphane is using the power of technology to pioneer a new, non-profit, fast-growing social network that incentivizes mutual help amongst citizens. An algorithm combining a virtual currency system with a coefficient enables the more generous users (those who give goods or services or volunteer for NGOs) to access goods and services at a lower ‘price’. This ‘the more you give, the richer you become’ model sparks a paradigm shift by showing that large scale solidarity exchange is possible. 25,000 plus people have already subscribed to the Indigo social network (and 700 new users subscribe every week without any communication efforts), with trigger communities in France, Greece, Portugal and Ivory Coast – where he strategically started by engaging populations who are the most in need, such as the refugees arriving in Greece. The alternative Indigo system is indeed particularly helpful for people who have a limited access to good or services or living in a country where the classic financial system is either corrupted or crumbling. What is more, Stéphane catalyzes this change by engaging well-known ambassadors, across France and beyond, thus generating a strong interest among national media players, like CBS (a movie is being produced on the Indigo ‘bet’).