Smart Neighbors

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Smart Neighbors: Awareness campaign on water consumption management and facilities maintenance

Aulnay-Sous-Bois, FranceAulnay-Sous-Bois
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

VoisinMalin has developed a unique approach to restore community in France’s poorest urban ditricts by connecting disempowered inhabitants with each other and with mainstream society by employing them in community outreach. In doing so, it restores their trust in themselves and in public and private institutions. It paves the way to improving the lives of millions of marginalized people in areas ridden with high levels of illiteracy, unemployment

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In Aulnay low-income areas, people struggle with a broad array of socio-economic challenges. They are typically poor users of public and social services because they fail to navigate them and do not trust the institutions that carry them out. As a result, these neighborhoods present a high rate of outstanding debts. Not only are communication tools ineffective, but outstanding debts and litigations are extremely costly for companies like Veolia.There exists a need to empower inhabitants to connect with the numerous efforts of public institutions, utility companies and citizen sector organizations to trigger a virtuous cycle of empowerment and a positive dynamic of community engagement.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

In marginalized urban districts, VoisinMalin employs and trains local citizens, called “Neighbors,” who have been identified for their leadership skills and desire to engage in their community. These “Neighbors” go door-to-door in these communities to provide educational information, gather insight into daily challenges, and connect citizens to relevant rights and services they are eligible for. In order to have the legitimacy to carry these messages and to fund her outreach system, VoisinMalin builds partnerships with public utility companies such as Veolia and local government institutions who have a strong need to connect with excluded inhabitants in order to fulfill their missions.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The "Neighbors" informed 477 families (81% of opening doors) about the potability of water and showed them how to use the water meter to monitor their consumption and detect leaks. They also explained who is responsible for the repair of leaks, and gave advices on eco-gestures and useful contacts (payment difficulties, legal information...). 1/3 of the people did not know that tap water is drinkable, which is why they did not drink it and bought bottles, representing an important budget for these families. Also, most people cannot evaluate their consumption and do not know eco equipments such as the dual flush or misuse it.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Through this first assignement on water issues with VEDIF, we are now able to work on this field with other projects, other neighborhoods, and Veolia is supporting us on these new territories. We are thus planning to work on managing water consumption in other neighborhoods around Paris, in Lille and in Lyon. Our experience of working with big companies at the national level will also help us to start our work on new territories, whereas we are also scaling deep thanks to the feedbacks of the inhabitants that we met during our door to door that have improved our practices. By spreading on new cities around France, VoisinMalin aims at creating a community of inhabitants eager to better their neighborhoods that will become a strong creative force.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Existing solutions operate via job creation but do not enhance and mobilize people’s leadership skills. They specialize on precise subjects and overvalue positions which lead to a predetermination of roles according to job positions, which impeeds to take advantage of the intelligence and ideas of the bottom of the pyramid. They offer useful services or activities, but tend to wait for people to come to them instead of going to their homes. But to have the opportunity to be well received and understood by the people, one must join them in their privacy and create a peer to peer dialogue. In addition, actions are often implemented with changing stakeholders, which affects the development of competences and of trust with local people. Finally, they do not rely enough on management, which is often delegated to local structures unprepared and with other priorities or constraints.


In addition to the Neighbors, the role of the manager is central to build a strong, sustainable presence in the community. He handles relationships with Veolia and other partners and provides them with several reports all along the project. He supervises the work of Neighbors, by training them and getting useful feedbacks about the inhabitants opinions. He also meets with local stakeholders and partners to enrich the project and create synergies. At the national level, a partnership manager is in charge of finding new assignments with national companies and institutions, while the local manager looks for new assignments opportunities with local partners. In addition, a development manager and the director of VoisinMalin keep capitalizing on local practices and monitoring the global impact of the Neighbors interventions.
About the Lead Co-Creation Partners
Veolia Eau d'Île-de-France
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Veolia Eau d'Île-de-France

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Former Delegate on Social Innovations



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Basic Info
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Primary European Country where this Project is creating social impact

, J93, Aulnay-Sous-Bois

Additional European countries where this Project is creating social impact
Select the category that best fits the type of your project:

New products & services: Entries in this category develop and offer essentials product and services that address needs currently unmet, Last mile distribution: Entries in this category focus on solutions that enable the physical delivery of life-changing services to people with restricted mobility or restricted access (senior people, people with disability, remote or difficult areas, etc.).

What awards or honors has the project received?

2011 : Sustainable innovation ; 2012 : Social innovation ; Social economy ; Daily life and sociability

Project Summary
Co-Creation Model: Tell us about your main strategic partners and how the partnership truly create value. For each Partner please include its type (business/social/public), its name, a short description, its key motivation to participate in the co-creation project, and the key contributions it is making in the co-creation project. Please follow the format displayed below:

VoisinMalin employs local citizens with leadership skills to be community builders and go door-to-door in their neighborhood to provide educational information.
By working on water issues, VoisinMalin aims at empowering local people and bettering their economic situation, and at developing the Neighbors’skills and the organization’s area of expertise.
VoisinMalin brings its knowledge of low-income areas populations to adapt the communication and educational methods on water issues. Nine Neighbors then go door-to-door to provide this information to inhabitants.

Veolia Eau d'Île-de-France
VEDIF’s missions are wastewater treatment, drinking water production and distribution, production of industrial water and industrial wastewater treatment, and customer relations management for the Ile-de-France.
The mission, sponsored by VEDIF, aims at giving people a better understanding of their water system so they eventually reduce their consumption, save money and avoid outstanding debts.
VEDIF finances the mission which means the salary of the Neighbors and part of the manager’s. It also provides the awareness material and leads the first training of both the manager and the Neighbors.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact. Please specify using qualitative and quantitative data (e.g. # of indirect and direct beneficiaries); help us understand how this solution truly makes a difference.

An evaluation was led after the first passage of the Neighbors to analyze the impact of the awareness campaign led ​​the previous months, through a questionnaire covering the topics first addressed. The objective was to measure memories from the first talk and changes of use since, and understand the barriers to change. This evaluation concluded that 86% of the people remembered the venue of VoisinMalin and 92% found it helpful. 61% remembered that tap water is drinkable and thus economies were made. Essential eco-gestures were remembered, even though the implementation is sometimes difficult. Also, 43% of the people checked their installation after the Neighbor's visit and found leaks. Inhabitants were able to express themselves and insisted on the importance of understanding the different terms (index, liters, m3) and of informing the whole family to achieve changing habits.

Funding: How is your project financial supported? [select all that apply]


Sustainability Plan: Has your project already reached financial sustainability? If not, what is this solutio’s plan to ensure financial sustainability? Do the main partners have enough stake to sustain the solution? If this project requires limited budget, how will other resources be secured to maintain or grow this work?

The awareness campaign on water is totally paid by VEDIF and is thus sustainable. This campaign is part of Aulnay-Sous-Bois’ assignments and participate in the sustainability of the site. VoisinMalin is based on the multiplication of the unitary model of a site, which reaches maturity in 5 years with ¾ of its resources produced by the sale of services, according to the following model:
1 site = 20 000 low-income area inhabitants = 1 manager + 20 employed Neighbors = 200 Neighbors friends (volunteers)
Annual sales: 90K€ (40K€ companies, 30K€ social housing, 20K€ local and regional authorities) and Annual grants: 30K€ (20K€ local and regional governments, 10K€ philanthropy). 15% of which goes to the headquarters to finance the central positions.
During its first three years of existence, a site counts 5 to 12 neighbors, the products are between 40K€ and 100K€, half of it being sales.

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the Partners to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

When Anne Charpy funded VoisinMalin, she got very interested in measuring social impact and heard of Veolia's work with Esther Duflo's randomisation method. She thus approached Olivier Gilbert who had followed the evaluation for Veolia. Both of them had a reverse development approach, valuing examples from Southern countries and adapting it to French communities. They also valued the impact for companies of working with local leaders and of designing its products in partnership with local communities. So when VoisinMalin became operational, Olivier Gilbert starting building this project.

About the Co-Creation
Barriers: What main barriers may you have encountered to co-create during the creation and implementation of the project and how did you try to overcome them?

The principal barrier has been preconceived ideas such as the opinion of a few local councillors regarding paying the Neighbors being considered as marchandizing citizenship when it is actually a way to value local skills. In addition, some inhabitants were quite distrustful towards Veolia and big companies in general. VoisinMalin had then to explain how it is a neutral local NGO that creates a link between inhabitants and Veolia through providing information from Veolia and comments from local inhabitants to report to Veolia.

Governance: What is the type of the relationship between the partners? (e.g. joint venture, contractual relationship, joint project...)

VoisinMalin and Veolia relationship is a contractual relationship. It started with a one year contract and now continues as a three year contract. The first year built trust between both parts and the second contract is not as descriptive and strict as the first one.
Much more listening and consideration has been attested since our first partnership. In results, we have now gained much more trust capital from Veolia which let us room for manoeuvre, freedom in our decisional part.

Interaction model: How is the project a transformative partnership? How is the interaction transforming the partnering organizations and their employees/ leadership in terms of creating a new vision, new management practices, new skills and new organizational structures? Please provide for concrete examples

VoisinMalin invites public utility companies and local authorities to build new relationships with inhabitants. Veolia and other partner institutions not only benefit from better use of their services, but also receive valuable feedback to adapt their services and communication to inhabitants of marginalized, isolated or low-income communities. For example, a unique annual event brings together local officials, public utility representatives, Neighbors and inhabitants. All these stakeholders experience a unique, facilitated conversation and are treated as peers, whereas they would otherwise never have met. This creates a new situation of accountability and dialogue, and dramatically changes their perspective on each other. For VoisinMalin, working with a big company as Veolia facilitated the replication on other territories, even though the local building of the project is still the main

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