After two years of a global pandemic, the start of the 2022 school year was synonymous with a return to normal for the majority of students.
However, today, two out of three are in an extremely precarious situation and the current inflation does not improve their situation. Between food, housing and health costs, the expenses are numerous for students in higher education. Thus, student precariousness is growing again this year, and the measures taken by the government are considered insufficient by the concerned actors.
Student precariousness in France: “56% of students admit they don’t have enough to eat” according to COP1-Solidarités étudiantes
Major charity organizations in France are taking notice of the growing issue of student precariousness, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and rising inflation.
To support students in need, these organizations have been providing meals, food boxes, and other essential products. However, despite the high demand for these services, many students are still not benefitting from them due to lack of awareness, misconceptions about eligibility, or feelings of shame associated with being seen at such distributions. This has also placed significant strain on the logistical and administrative capacities of these NGOs.
On a different note, overseas, a new trend in software development is taking shape: the rise of No-Code tools.
This innovative technology enables individuals to create websites and applications without any coding or programming knowledge. Instead, No-Code tools offer a user-friendly interface and drag-and-drop functionalities, making the creation of complex software systems much simpler and more accessible. This trend is gaining momentum across various sectors, as it provides a cost-effective and speedy alternative to traditional software development methods.
[…] No-code, as it reduces the cost of application production by a factor of 50 or 100 depending on how you look at it, makes it possible to solve people’s problems through software in a much more accessible way. Emmanuel Straschnov — translated from French
Moreover, No-Code tools have the potential to democratize software development and reduce the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs, driving innovation and accelerating digital transformation across industries.
In late 2022, we were approached by Le Secours Populaire, one of the biggest NGOs in France, to assess the potential of no-code tools, particularly Bubble.io, in tackling the student precariousness crisis. As part of our Flusk Fund program, in partnership with Fondation Carrefour, we decided to take on the challenge and develop Click&CoHelp, an app that could help both students and Le Secours Populaire organize distributions more efficiently.
We began by defining the app’s features and goals, aiming to support a booking system that would enable students to reserve a spot to collect their food and utility boxes directly from the app. This would not only reduce barriers for students collecting their boxes for the first time but also help the NGO prepare the right amount of boxes in advance, thereby eliminating long queues and frustrations caused by insufficient supply.
Moreover, the app allowed students to verify their ID directly from the app and incorporated a ban system for students who repeatedly failed to show up for their bookings. It also enabled students to book a spot to help craft and distribute the boxes, which could be largely put in the spotlight for the first time, convincing more students to help their peers thanks to the app’s user-friendly interface which greatly contributed to guiding the students to provide help.
Thanks to Bubble.io’s capabilities for iteration, the app was developed in an incredible two weeks, providing a potential solution to the ongoing crisis of student precariousness in France.
Le Secours Populaire quickly decided to launch this new app in 3 of their main distribution centres in the North of France.
The response from students was overwhelmingly positive, with many signing up and booking the first available spots within days of the launch. In an unprecedented achievement, the app reached 1.000 active users and 2.000+ reserved food boxes in just 3 months. This success demonstrated the pressing need for such a solution and the willingness of students to embrace new technologies.
However, the launch of the app also posed new challenges for the NGO, which had to accommodate and train its team to use the new tool. Although it initially felt overwhelming and complex, the team quickly realized the potential of the app and were able to gather valuable statistics and reports about their distributions. This enabled them to better understand the needs of the students they were helping, including their age and gender distribution, which was crucial for delivering boxes that met their private needs.
Overall, the launch of Click&CoHelp was a brilliant idea from the NGO to better connect and engage with their target audience despite the generation gap. The success of the app demonstrated the potential of no-code tools to address complex social issues and drive innovation in various sectors.
The ideation and development of a project within a mere two-week timeframe was once an unattainable feat, reserved only for the most skilled and efficient teams.
In this particular case, the application of this tool proved to be exceptionally pertinent. The outcome served as a prime example of the value that can be derived from utilizing such a resource in times of a crisis and emergency situation.
As I ponder the impact of these tools, I cannot help but contemplate the opportunities they hold for the future. The potential implications are profound, and the possibilities are endless. It is truly remarkable to consider how such technology can shape and transform our world in ways we never imagined possible.
Technology can really improve people’s lives. The problem is that it is expensive to produce. It is a luxury product that is essentially created for markets that can make money. And so the markets that can make money are groups of the population that have strong purchasing power. And that’s why we see all the startups founded by Silicon Valley, generally, more focused on making the lives of people who already have a not-so-difficult life easier, rather than making the lives of people who are really struggling easier. Emmanuel Straschnov — translated from French
As witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the world as we know it can radically change in a matter of weeks, and therefore the need for accessible, reliable and fast solutions could show very useful (pandemic spread dashboards, vaccination center organization and management, …)
The so-called “developing countries” are rapidly advancing and becoming more connected, with increased access and thiner technology gap. These countries could significantly benefit from the use of no-code tools, which have the potential to inspire and create citizen-led initiatives.
However, several significant obstacles remain, notably the proprietary nature of most no-code tools- which means the source code is unavailable and hosted on the tool’s own servers. This could prevent governments from using them due to security concerns. Additionally, the pricing models of these tools are often still very expensive and inflexible for developing countries.
The real barrier is learning the tools. What’s missing now is just social validation and making no-code in general more mainstream. It’s still a little sophisticated community that follows these things closely. It’s not for everyone. And in fact, that’s what’s missing, especially when the impact project side is not done by people, for the most part, who are not very tech-savvy. They don’t know. Emmanuel Straschnov — translated from French
As these barriers evolve, I’m really curious to see how they will affect the use of no-code tools in developing countries. However, I still hope that more social and environmental initiatives will emerge from these revolutionary tools in the meantime.
If you’re new to these No-code things, I’d recommend this article to better understand the recent rise of No-Code.
I also recommend sharing this story within your network, as it has the potential to inspire brilliant minds to tackle pressing issues through innovation. By spreading the word, we can cultivate a culture of problem-solving and ingenuity, paving the way for progress and positive change.
You can also have a look (and maybe take part) at our Flusk Fund, dedicated to support social initiatives using No-code technologies.
With Love, Victor from Flusk ❤️
Special thanks to Laurence Wallier from Le Secours Populaire for trusting us in the development of Click&CoHelp, her engagement for social causes is outstanding, and it was and remains very inspiring to me. Thanks to Emmanuel Straschnov for answering our questions.
Bubble.io is not affiliated with Click&CoHelp, Flusk or Flusk Fund.
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