Developing services to fit local contexts, whether in developed or emerging economies, requires understanding consumer expectations and behaviors as well as adapting to local structures.
Veolia has developed an open social innovation program, Pop Up by Veolia. This involves partnering with local actors to co-create solutions that have a positive impact. A call for solutions is launched based on a cross-referenced analysis of local needs and Veolia’s needs. The aim is to identify social entrepreneurs able to meet both. The chosen entrepreneurs then benefit from support from our incubator partners and Veolia tries to find ways to collaborate with them and their beneficiaries to create new services. The Pop Up by Veolia network currently boasts 12 partner incubators in France and around the world, supporting over 100 social entrepreneurs. Fifteen or so collaborations between Veolia and these entrepreneurs have taken root.
For example, in France, we used expertise from CRESUS, which battles over-indebtedness, to develop FASTOCHE, an app that helps users manage tight budgets and work out any social security payments they may be entitled to. Feedback from people who used CRESUS was vital in developing an app to meet the needs of people with money troubles. We now offer it to residents of areas managed by our municipal partners.
Another example of our drive to build solutions jointly is the partnership between Veolia and Tubà, a space in Lyon, France, to co-create and experiment with ideas for smart cities. Veolia is in the process of testing joint construction with residents via TOGETH'AIR, an app that cross-references objective air quality data with residents’ perceptions. The idea is to bring about a shift in people’s travel and transportation habits.
In 2012 Veolia India, via its Orange City Water joint venture, won India’s first public-private partnership for integrated management of the water supply in the city of Nagpur. The company met with stiff resistance from local residents at first, particularly from people living in informal settlements who were firmly against the idea of private-sector involvement in the city’s water supply. This project brought with it a great many social and behavioral changes to the lives of residents. Community outreach and dialogue were needed to drive social acceptability and explain the positive impacts the project would have on daily life. A social welfare community liaison team, comprising 50 people from all walks of life, was set up to answer people’s questions and requests on a range of issues such as billing, meter reading, costs per cubic meter, etc. The team attended numerous residents’ meetings to give reports and updates on the work in progress.