In 2015 Sébastien Grosjean, BookingSync co-founder, travelled to Panama in order to make his commitment towards charity a reality.
Hello Sébastien, could you introduce yourself and talk a bit about BookingSync’s commitment for charity?
Hello, my name’s Sébastien, co-founder of BookingSync.
Before to start working on this company, I had already been working in the vacation rental sector for more than 10 years. But as the years passed, I wanted to do something more rewarding, something that could mix my experience in new technologies and vacation rental, in order to develop both.
Thanks to BookingSync, we can change the way vacation rental is addressed but also make profits which can later be partially redistributed to several organizations or associations (whether they focus on the environment, social rights, etc.).
Our commitment towards charity is constitutive of our development, which is one of our investors’ motivations. Each one of them supports and encourages us in that process so that, eventually, we could redistribute from 10 to 50% of our profits.
As we are still in the launching phase, we’re not making profits yet but we were still looking for a way to materialize our humanitarian engagement.
I then went to Casco Viejo in Panama, on April, 18th and 19th, 2015 with Matt Landau from VRMB.com.
Why Casco Viejo?
Matt Landau is an important stakeholder in the vacation rental sector, especially in Panama. I decided to join him as he was already there. He is very involved in the community and I thought it would be a real opportunity for me to receive some of his wise advice.
Matt had offered a vacation rental consulting workshop to those who donated to his foundation, Esperanza San Felipe, and Microsoft was willing to “Double the Donation”, which allowed Esperanza to receive twice more. So thanks Matt (and Microsoft) for making this possible!
What does Esperanza work on?
Esperanza, “Hope” in Spanish, works towards rehabilitating former gang members. The association allows them to be psychologically and socially monitored, educates their wives and children, provides them with food and health goods (such as baby diapers, hygiene products, etc.).
In exchange of those products and services, the members work for the community and are paid in “Buenas Obras”, “Good Deeds” in Spanish. This alternative currency gives them access to everything they need to purchase in the association’s market.
The association also encourages them to develop their own business, such as seafood delivery, food service, etc.
For now, 4 out of 5 gangs have been rehabilitated in Casco Viejo. The remaining members even come by themselves to the association in order to benefit from its services and care.
If you had to choose one word to describe this experience, which one would it be?
Hope / Esperanza
Life in Casco Viejo has been marred with violence for a long period of time, especially because of the gangs. They used to represent the only possible future to its inhabitants but thanks to Esperanza, they can now consider living a better life. Following the first gang rehabilitation experiences made by Esperanza, it's now other gangs asking for help to get a fresh start. It is amazing to see how, in as little as 5 years, rival gangs could pass from shooting each other to shaking hands for a brighter future.
What’s your next project?
We’re working with Arndt Soret, CEO and co-founder of the association Humanium, which fights for children’s rights (fighting against violence, food distribution, etc.) especially in Rwanda.
Arndt is also BookingSync’s lawyer and he works in the field directly for the association. We aim to develop an app in our interface which will be dedicated to Humanium so that the BookingSync users can define a certain percentage of their profits to give to the association.
We will donate this app very soon, as it is still under development.
You can support Esperanza and its missions too!