Impulso reaches out to young people in search of meaning

An association born in 2016 under the leadership of Louis-Elie Maillard and Cyrille Roquette, Impulso is aimed at young people in search of meaning, thanks to microfinance. We met with the two founders who also are graduates of IÉSEG.

Can you introduce us to Impulso?

Impulso is an NGO that recruits and educates young people (micro-consultants) who will then be sent to help beneficiaries in need. These beneficiaries can be, for example, women in Latin America who are starting a business to get out of poverty, as well as small associations in the Hauts-de-France region that lacks skills, expertise or human resources. The goal is that these micro-consultants, mostly students between 20 and 25 years old, can bring their skills, talents and know-how to these beneficiaries. We accompany the young participants on a one-year training course, including a 6-month preparation that can be done in parallel with an internship, courses or a thesis. This training is fully online and allows young people from all over France to participate. The second part of the program is full-time and involves working in the field with beneficiaries in Latin America or in France. This mission can be considered as an end-of-study internship or a gap year, as it is a professionalizing experience and will allow for the development of practical skills.

In order to continue to grow, Impulso is working on a sponsorship offer whose aim is to build a bridge between young people leaving school, who want to work for an organization or a company that has meaning, and the corporate world, which is failing to recruit and to attract these young people.

How did Impulso get started?

We both joined IÉSEG in 2011 and became close friends in our second year. We wanted to live an experience abroad together in order to accomplish a social mission and not a “classic” internship. We learned many things and developed many skills at IÉSEG, so we wanted to give back to others the chance we had to be born in France in a wealthy environment, to have been educated and to have been able to pursue higher education. Since we were very young, we have both been immersed in the associative sector, so we really wanted to embark on a social and humanitarian adventure. But we quickly realized that there was no volunteering mission that really combined what we had learned in class (the professional side) and the humanitarian side. This is how the idea of creating our own humanitarian project was born!

We looked for what existed as socio-humanitarian levers for the development of populations in the Southern countries. We quickly became interested in micro-credit, which is a wonderful tool for emancipation when it is used wisely. We then met several microfinance players and realized that many of them give access to money to people excluded from the traditional financial system, but there was almost no one to accompany these people from disadvantaged backgrounds to make good use of their microcredit and turn it into something virtuous. We thought that with our skills, we could finally pass on this knowledge to project leaders who generally start their own business, not by desire but by default, to get out of poverty.

We then found local partners in Latin America and spent 6 months in Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru to visit three microfinance institutes. This first mission was a great success, and one thing led to another and we decided to develop our activity and, each year, the number of students we welcome is increasing. Since the launch, we have had 150 volunteers, a real symbolic milestone.

How did IÉSEG help you with your project?

During our studies at IÉSEG, there was a lot of group work, especially with international students. We learned to set up projects from A to Z independently with people from all over the world. Adaptability was a must. Moreover, we chose the Entrepreneurship major in the Master’s program, which allowed us to learn how to develop a business model and to meet very inspiring people. We loved the Career program which helped us discover what drives us and learned how to pitch.

We started the Impulso adventure alongside our Master’s degree in 2016. In 2018, when we finished our studies, the question arose as to what we were going to do: dive into Impulso full time or keep the project on the side with another job? That’s where the IÉSEG Incubator came into play, helping us to structure and professionalize the project. At the beginning, we had a lot of different business model ideas, but the IÉSEG Incubator team allowed us to focus on our added value and therefore on a defined model.

How is Impulso doing today?

Impulso is doing great and has grown tremendously since its launch. Today we offer three missions: a mission in Latin America with 4 countries of action, a mission in France and a mission – “sports challenge” which started recently.

Becoming an “Impulso” micro-consultant is an excellent way to get concrete experience: skills, maturity, responsibility, personal development, etc. All these elements must be increasingly part of the personal construction of young people, in addition to academic development.

Since this year, we also teach a course at IÉSEG on microfinance and collaboration between countries of the North and the South.

Any advice for an entrepreneur?

Surround yourself, listen to others, take feedback. Some advice is not good to take but others are essential to succeed in getting refocused. Also keep in mind that the life of an entrepreneur today is not just about numbers. Of course, you need to have five-year projections and a certain knowledge of finance, but being an entrepreneur today also means doing things according to your feelings. You have to feel the market, its customers, its beneficiaries… It’s all about being on the field and having fun!

IÉSEG's 60th Anniversary Badge