Interview: Tech can create opportunities for homeless entrepreneurs

Interview: Tech can create opportunities for homeless entrepreneurs

Andrew Funk (Founding President at Homeless Entrepreneur) is one of the keynote speakers we’re really excited to hear from at #LEAP23. Not just because his Barcelona-based organisation is so unique (it empowers homeless people to build new companies and careers, centred around their passions), but also because Funk himself is a talented communicator. 

It’s this ability to connect with others quickly and directly that enables him to bridge the divide between segments of society that don’t usually communicate at all: when he’s in the room, suddenly anything is possible. 

Homeless Entrepreneur is built on a crowdfunding model, which funds housing and work opportunities for the people who go through its programs. With the ambitious goal to end homelessness for 20% of the homeless population in the G7 and Europe, the organisation provides the network and resources to enable a successful future – as well as the immediate practical support that allows its entrepreneurs to get their startups off the ground. 

Tech companies and investors are key to the future of Homeless Entrepreneur. So we asked Funk how you could support this positive approach to ending homelessness. 

If someone told you they wanted to support the homeless people in their area but they didn’t know how to start, or were worried they’d come across as condescending if they started offering help or access to resources – what would you tell them?  

“I’d invite them to have a 15 minute chat with me to see how they can provide the most impact in the most satisfying way that’s aligned with their personal and professional goals and lifestyle. My email is funk@homelessentrepreneur.org and my WhatsApp is +34 697 877 089.  

“Please contact me and let’s have that conversation and speed up the process of ending homelessness together!”

Homeless Entrepreneur has a unique, refreshing approach – could you share a little on how your own experiences have enabled you to provide empowering resources and opportunities? 

“Going through a homeless experience myself and empowering people out of poverty since 2015 has helped our organisation understand the homeless individuals we support as well as the resources and opportunities that provide sustainable personal and professional growth for and with them. 

“Simultaneously, we have learned how to empower the partners in our community by including them in a way that is aligned to their core business. Public-private-civic partnerships are designing long term solutions to prevent and end homelessness and our data department is playing a key role in educating ourselves and our community, so all of our stakeholders can make better decisions.” 

How do you find people who don’t have a home, but you are willing and ready to engage in meaningful work? Or, how do you support people to get to that place where they’re ready and willing?  

“Inbound Marketing & Communication: we focus on helping our current beneficiaries successfully and sharing their progress to inspire others in a similar situation, and invite our community to invite people experiencing homelessness and poverty to contact our Homeless Helpline, which is where everything starts. 

“We suggest that everyone who contacts our Helpline participates in our Homeless Voices program to get their story out publicly, in their words. The people who participate in our Homeless Voices program are then eligible to apply for our HELP program. We have a selection process with the help of an HE score, which was designed by our data department, to measure the probability of the candidate’s success in our HELP program. We provide holistic support, i.e. professional development, health, training, housing, finance, legal, communication and a mentor, to accompany the Homeless Entrepreneurs in their journey to become active, independent citizens with a sustainable job and dignified housing.”

If you could go back to the start of your own career and tell yourself one thing you wish you’d known then, what would it be?  

“I’d tell myself to be more grateful for the hardships to come. Instead of dwelling on my loss, I’ve learned how to appreciate them as an opportunity to grow into a more complete human being, who will be able to lead others through similar times.” 

What do you see as the key opportunities for Homeless Entrepreneur at LEAP 2023?  

“The key opportunities at LEAP 2023 are learning from the +500 expert speakers and +100,000 tech innovators and leading experts from around the world in order to identify and build new partnerships that lead to an innovative strategic design and framework, funding, and market access – to empower people out of poverty by tapping into the limitless potential of tech to build a positive future, where homelessness and poverty, as we know it, no longer exists.” 

Thanks to Andrew Funk at Homeless Entrepreneur. Join us at LEAP 2023 to learn more. 

 

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