How you can help (Magikietsvragen.be help) children with homework
“Magikietsvragen.be” is still going strong 1 year after their foundation during last year’s Hack the Crisis hackathon. The online platform helps children with their schoolwork and is already counting on over 600 volunteers wanting to help. The project that was born out of necessity in corona times when schools were closed, is now continuing their ambition to support the education and future of our children. We had a chat with online marketing expert Luba Karpova, one of the founders of EDU12 vzw, the non-profit organization backing Magikietsvragen.be. We go over her experience during the hackathon, the key aspect of her complementary team, and her 3 tips in creating societal impact as an entrepreneur.
“For more than a year, 10% of our children in primary school are having learning difficulties. This means we’re looking at a number of 40.000 to 50.000 children!”Luba Karpova
Hack the Crisis
Over the weekend of March 27-29, 2020, creatives, startups, corporates, developers, and tech players intensively collaborated to help society with the sudden challenges that were imposed by the unprecedented corona crisis. The Belgian Hack the Crisis online hackathon nominated 10 finalists, with “Magikietsvragen.be” as one of the best pitches.
Via the website and app of Magikietsvragen.be, volunteers can help children from primary school with self-study at home, free of charge and in a safe online environment. Children first select the course they are having issues with (Dutch, mathematics, French or world orientation) and then press start. At that time, a volunteer, who is available, receives a notification on their smartphone to start a session. In this session, which takes place through a (video) chat, the volunteer helps the pupils understand the topic better.
“The key concept of our project was defined after our first brainstorming session during the hackathon: helping children who lack decent educational support”, Luba explains. “Many children can’t study well, because they don’t always have access to certain helplines. Parents aren’t always available to help, etc. However, many of our children nowadays have access to a smartphone or a tablet. Taking all this into account, our team came up with the idea of “Magikietsvragen”. By the end of the hackathon weekend, Luba’s team developed a minimum viable product. “We successfully convinced the jury, thanks to the preciseness and the visual aspect of our virtual pitch.”
Luba’s team started out as three friends with a mission, quickly grew into a diverse skilled group during the hackathon and, eventually, ended up as a well determined non-profit organization. “The hackathon was a good way to meet up with new people and form groups. That’s how we created our team in the beginning,” Luba says.
“We have few key people who were really crucial to bring this project to life. Initiator Stefaan Maene, Professor Luc Martens and IT specialist Frank Meyers, have been and still are incredibly important for Magikietsvragen’s journey”, Luba mentions. Stefaan is the one who motivated everyone to participate in the hackathon. Professor Luc Martens of Ghent University, also CEO of Excentis, financed the project by providing the necessary servers, foundation and production costs, PR and communication, etc. Lastly Frank Meyers, CEO of Licquid, made sure the concept of Magikietsvragen could be configured into an app. “We’re very lucky to have them in our team, as without them, the hackathon idea had been just an idea without real life realization”.
In the Magikietsvragen team you will also find Hervé Heesterbeek, HR consultant; Stefanie Lannoo, Flemish teacher focused on integration; Elke Jeurissen, inclusive leadership expert and Jill Vanparys, UX designer who works around educational games.
As Luba herself is at the same time Digital & Social Media Consultant, we asked her how she manages to combine a growing non-profit with a full time job. ”It’s not always easy”, she admits. “Planning is key. Passion is motor. As entrepreneur you have the habit to look for solutions. Any experience you have, in Management, Financial, Legal, Marketing, PR, and education, is important when running a business, whether if it’s for a company or an non-profit organization. And not to forget, having the right network plays a major role to make things happen.”
Are you a teacher and would you like to support the platform through your school? Order free flyers here.
“We are thankful for our volunteers”
Soon after the application was launched, Magikietsvragen quickly grew with 600 volunteers who were willing to help children with their questions. The campaign of Studio Brussel, Music for Life, was a vital contributor to this skyrocketing number.
You don’t need to have a teacher diploma or special training to be a volunteer. “Think of it as if you were helping your neighbor’s children of 6th grade with their homework, but now, thanks to the digital aspect, you can help children at greater distance.”
Do you want to get involved as a volunteer? Sign up at magikietsvragen.be or in the Android app ‘mag ik iets vragen’.
Security is the priority
Security of the children is a top priority for “Magikietsvragen”. Children are not required to log in and they can use the platform anonymously. Logging in as a teacher is only possible through the itmse®– app (i.e. an electronic identity card). This way, the identity of the volunteer is discrete, and he/she cannot use a false name and/or date of birth. Moreover, the children can end the conversation at any time. This allows to create a safe chat/video environment for the children and the volunteer.
What’s the future like for Magikietsvragen?
Magikietsvragen has a loud and clear motto: “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child”. “Our mission is to make all the resources available to children, so they can prosper in their education and in their integration to society.”
Luba Karpova strengthens that they are still in the process of recruitment to make sure all questions get answered, as efficiently as possible on the platform. “We also aim to expand our network by contacting local study advisors and schools. This should increase awareness for our solution to the growing problem of limited study guidance for children Flanders.”
Any form of financial support is welcome. “IT companies can support our initiative by offering us free servers: it’s also a great way to stand out with their CSR program. Next to that, we can use financial sponsoring or media deals in order to enhance our communication and reach more schools and children”, Luba tells us. “We are looking for financial funds to be able to offer our platform for free in the future. Next to our volunteers, our organizations needs an employee in order to follow-up the communications with volunteers and other stakeholders.”
“IT companies can support our initiative by offering us free servers: it’s also a great way to stand out with their CSR program. Next to that, we can use financial sponsoring or media deals in order to enhance our communication and reach more schools and children”
Would Magikietsvragen fit in your CSR policy? You can support Magikietsvragen financially by offering certain services for free, such as hosting or creating extra visibility as a media partner. Furthermore, it is a possibility for companies to motivate their employees to volunteer several hours a month. Sign up as a volunteer and help children online from your office chair!
3 tips for entrepreneurs who want to bring societal impact
Luba gladly listed 3 key tips for entrepreneurs who’d like to have an impact on society with their initiative.
- Focus on your specialty and apply it to a good cause.
- Expand your network: Meeting people with the same interests will help you prosper. Don’t forget: teamwork makes the dream work.
- Make it happen: Making it happen is the only way to make an impact!
Would you like to support Magikietsvragen? Make a donation via Koning Boudewijn Stichting. Tax deductible as from € 40. Find more information on the website.
Any other questions? Mail [email protected].