At 22 years old, they’re already wearing two hats: students and entrepreneurs. In May 2023, Clémentine Offner and Ivo Silva founded WeConnect, a societal impact company that puts students looking for accommodation in touch with private individuals willing to host them in their homes.
“Students and hosts share the same open-mindedness and the search for a human and social experience,” sums up Clémentine Offner. The Bachelor’s student in Psychology came up with the idea for the platform in September 2021 with her colleague Ivo Silva. They both realised the extent to which the issue of housing was prevalent among their fellow students, and what started out as a purely theoretical project became a tangible reality in May 2023.
Nine months later, around ten students have already been able to benefit from this advantageous accommodation package. “It’s a cultural exchange, and not just an intergenerational one, as the students can learn much more about the culture and life in the Grand Duchy from their host than they could on their own,” explains Clémentine Offner.
“Our offer is also a response to the fight against loneliness, for both hosts and students, who sometimes arrive in Luxembourg without knowing anyone,” adds Ivo Silva. This formula, which is resolutely different from that offered on the private market, also comes with two types of insurance (civil liability and rental risk). This is yet another argument to convince new hosts in the face of strong demand, with more than 200 students already registered on the platform.
Support based on experience
Alongside Gilles Heinesch and Christian Gutenkauf, the WeConnect team benefits from the support of the University of Luxembourg Incubator and Entrepreneurship Programme. “They enabled us to get mentoring from experienced people who answered our questions and gave us support”, says Ivo Silva.
The Bachelor’s student in Economics even says that he receives requests from landlords to welcome back the same students – it’s often the case that they forge strong links during their time living together. Most lease contracts run for six months, during which time the WeConnect team remains available to monitor how things are going and respond to any queries or requests. The contracts can then be renewed.
“Our ambition is first to grow our project in Luxembourg before looking at other countries,” says Clémentine Offner. For her and her colleagues, this act of entrepreneurship is also a rich learning experience. Combined with the student life punctuated by exam sessions and an Erasmus semester, the adventure even includes a distance learning component in business management. More than ever, the skills of these budding entrepreneurs are flourishing.