Seniora Groep (Let getting older become comfortable)
We solve the personnel problem in senior health care and the loneliness of elderly by getting them in touch with enthusiastic students
The competition is only open to people between 18-34 years-old and resident in UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands. Does this apply to you
Country of residence of entrepreneur
Tell us about your personal background. Why are you passionate about this issue? Making an idea a reality takes innovation, dedication and strong leadership. Do you have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to realize your vision?
At age 17, I left the tiny village where I came from to study Industrial Engineering and Management at the other side of the country. You can imagine that this is a giant leap, especially for your family. After three years, I wanted to go on a study tour to Latin America and I studied the influences of culture on entrepreneurship in Mexico and Costa Rica. When I was there, I had a jaw-breaking experience when I saw the differences in culture on the family-aspect. Everybody was taking care of their older family members, where I only saw my grandparents at most once in a month. Back in Holland, my partner Allard de Jong noticed the same problem of loneliness when he did a research in a hospital in Florida. We want to make sure that the older generation will not be forgotten.
This is my first company, but I do have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to realize my vision. I already organized a lot of events, like the second largest formal ball in the Netherlands. Next to that, I've been in the board of the umbrella organization of the student associations in Enschede. My work at Kennispark Twente helps me with the development of my entrepreneurial side. I am also a fellow of the Kairos Society, a society for a selected group of entrepreneurial students in the world who are passionate about social entrepreneurship and making the change.
About Your Organization
Netherlands, OV, Enschede
Country where this project is creating social impact
Netherlands, OV, Enschede
Is your organization a
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The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
There is a mix of problems that will be solved. At first, there is a personnel shortage in Senior Care Institutes which will become bigger and bigger. In the futere there will be less and less volunteers and people who are willing to work in the health care section. At this moment, all the obligated jobs are done, but the elderly won't get any personal attention by the employees. As a result of this, the seniors will feel more and more lonely. Research has shown that this loneliness is one of the main causes of fictitious and non-fictitious diseases. We want to solve the loneliness amongst elderly.
Secondly, we found another problem. We study at the University of Twente and we noticed that a lot of our friends couldn't find a job they liked.
At third, we try to bridge the generation gap.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
At first, there is the lack of personal attention. Family members are working and their grandchildren are too busy with their own lives. They don't have the time to visit their grandparents, but they do care about them. They can buy a plan for their older family members which guarantees that they will receive personal attention of the Juniora's, our student employees. We are focusing on students, because they have the brains and are assertive enough to help the older people. There is a shortage of jobs for students, while the costs of studying are rising and rising. We can offer students a job that will also give them the opportunity to learn from the experience of the older generation. We'll obligate our students to follow a course which helps them to understand the problems of the elderly and helps them to deal with difficult situations. In short, we will support health care institutes and make the elderly less lonely by using students to keep the older generation company.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
We provide the older generation with a trained student buddy, who helps the elderly to feel less lonely.
How it works when a family member wants to use our service for an older family member:
- They can't visit their (grand)parents but hate to see them feeling lonely
- They order a plan from our website with a guaranteed amount of personal support.
- The grandparents will get informed about the possibilities and are able to decide what they want to do each week and they have the opportunity to select a personal buddy.
How it works when a health care institute wants to use our service:
- They look at the shortage in their next month and let us know how many hours they will need our students for personal support.
- We'll send a message to our students that they are working at that care institute to support the personnel.
How it works when elderly want to use our service themselves
- They contact us and let us know what they would love to get
- We'll help them find a Juniora who is able to help them.
- The elderly have the opportunity to keep or switch this Juniora.
In all the three possible ways, it will solve the three problems
- The shortage of care personnel
- The shortage of jobs for students
- They bridge the gap between the older and younger generation
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Our biggest competitors are the volunteers, domiciliary care and stubborn health care institutes.
- There are getting less and less volunteers and this generation of volunteers is getting older. We don't see them as a direct competitor, because we support the volunteers.
- The domiciliary care is another competitor, but we are more reliable and flexible because of our trained students. We are focusing on the personal support instead of health care.
- Some health care institutes provide the service for personal support, but they ask €42,50 to take a one-hour walk. We are asking half of that price.
Our idea doesn't exist and therefore we don't have main competitors, because we want to cooperate with and support the the health care institutes. We are an additional service.
Select the stage that best applies to your business
Operating for less than a year
This Entry is about (Issues)
What is the social impact you have had to date and how you measure it?
At this moment it is hard to specify our social impact, because we started at January 17th this year. We are currently looking for partners, investors and health care institutes who want to cooperate with us.
To look at the future impact, it is investigated that over 200.000 elderly are getting company at most once in four weeks. Next to that, just in the Netherlands more than one million people are feeling lonely. It is probably impossible to solve this problem entirely with our concept but we can make the difference by connecting these people. Not only with our students, but also with each other. We are feeling touched by this issue and want to make a change and we believe we can.
What barriers might hinder the success of your business? How do you plan to overcome them?
One of the barriers might be the step to pay for our service. We obligate our students(juniora's) to obtain a certificate of good conduct and get a training by a professional. Next to that, all our Juniora's will be in a network where they can tell their story's and help each other with their difficulties/problems.
Another difficulty might be our financial situation at this moment. We do not have a lot of money in the bank. We have enough money to make it in Twente, but we are looking for investors to grow our business to the rest of the Netherlands and eventually to more western societies.
How does your model address financial, social, and environmental sustainability?
Financial Sustainability: At this moment, we have enough money to let our company remain healthy when we stay in Twente. We just started but we are looking for investors that will give us the opportunity to expand. Our largest cost is the salary of our Juniora's, but we will have a margin in that aspect. The problem is the payment time of health care institutes. Therefore, we need to create a buffer and we need investors for that. If we want to expand our services to the rest of the Netherlands, we'll need an funding of approximately €100.000,-
To remain financially healthy, we will provide plans to elderly and their family members. The beneficial affect is that we'll have a continuous cash flow and know the amount of money getting in. With health care institutes, they can variate the amount of hours needed, but there is a minimum amount they are obligated to use.
Social sustainability: Our environment is getting more and more older people. Therefore, our target group is getting bigger and while loneliness is a big problem now, imagine the need in the future. The experience of the older generation is flowing away if the generation gap keeps growing.
Environmental sustainability: There are two ways to keep the health care industry as cheap as possible. The first way is to use a legion of robots which will guide the elderly. The second way is to use cheap personnel. We think our option is better for the environment.
Awareness & learning
How do you see social entrepreneurship contributing to the improvement of developing countries?
I think the developing countries will need social entrepreneurship. I am a fellow of the Kairos Society, a society with a goal to stimulate social entrepreneurship worldwide, and I've met a lot of social entrepreneurs when I was at the global summit. One of these guys invented a sanitizer which lets the people in Africa wash themselves without the use of water. I think the world needs social entrepreneurs.
I don't think our company will solve the problem in developing countries, because the problem doesn't exist there. I think the purpose of social entrepreneurs isn't only to provide the country with your service, but especially to guide the people in developing countries when they want to be entrepreneurs. The website http://www.kiva.org/ is doing a great job on this one. They will provide inhabitants of developing countries with funding. Next to funding, they will need training on entrepreneurship. That's what (social) entrepreneurs should do.
What aspects of your stay in Uganda as part of the competition do you think you will find most challenging and rewarding?
I think it will be most rewarding to see the way how the people deal with their situation. When I was in the poor parts of Nicaragua I've met some people who were selling bags of lemonade in buses. They walked in a bus and tried to sell something. They would give the bus driver a bag of lemonade for free and got out at the next stop where they walked back to the grand station and they did this the entire day. You see the problems of those people on television, but you get touched when you actually face them. It is impossible to solve the ways of thinking at once, but we can help. It is hard to imagine that the Lord's Resistance Army can do whatever they want and also that people are getting killed for being gay. I think this will be most challenging and difficult for me.
Most rewarding will be to help them see their possibilities. They can make a difference by becoming an entrepreneur and I'ld love to help them.
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