JCU Alumna Alessandra Gargiulo Holds Lecture “We Care, We Share with Uyolo”
Alessandra Gargiulo, class of 2013, graduated with a B.A. in International Affairs, and holds a M.A. in International Development from SciencesPo, Paris. She co-founded and is president of the Uyolo Fund, a non-profit startup venture. The Institute for Entrepreneurship invited Alessandra to hold a lecture during Professor Pulino’s BUS 305 class, and we got a chance to ask her some questions about Uyolo.
What is Uyolo?
Uyolo (from the Xhosa word for ‘happiness’) is an organization that aims at democratizing the philanthropic sector and promoting a culture of caring and sharing. Our first project is the UyoloApp, a mobile application that will allow users to engage in philanthropy by volunteering in a way that is easy, fun, and impact-oriented. UyoloApp will also help companies promote their CSR activities, and turn the so-called “beneficiaries” into empowered actors, by encouraging the sharing of information, success stories, and news on social issues, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Where did the idea for Uyolo come from?
In 2014 I lived in Cape Town for six months while I worked as a consultant for the South African Growth Institute. My job was to improve their capacity and impact, as well as identifying good projects and working with corporates and donors. So I had the opportunity to visit some communities that were extremely marginalized, and I decided I wanted to do something for social justice through strategic philanthropy.
How did it turn from an idea into a project?
I wanted to create something that would facilitate things between organizations and donors, while also creating an opportunity for everyday users to donate money. So the idea for the platform turned into an idea for an app that is easy and educational, where people can give a small donation just by liking a picture. Uyolo is the first philanthropic social network of, it’s an aggregator. Through the power of culture and social media, we guarantee reliability and active impact.
What have been the main challenges?
Uyolo started only as a side project, so the most difficult part was trying to find the time and money to invest in it!
What are your plans for the future?
We are looking forward to forging stronger partnerships with NGOs and companies. And of course, finishing the last stages of creating and promoting the app, which will hopefully launch between December and January 2017. We also want to participate in fundraisings and promote volunteering.
What is most rewarding about what you do?
I think for me, the most rewarding thing is seeing people who were skeptical become interested. Making people realize that they can contribute.
Has JCU helped you at some level?
Yes. I spoke to Dean Merva about the Uyolo project, and she put me in contact with Professor Pulino. At the time we started off with a different name, Philos, that I had chosen from my Classical studies high school background, but together we decided to change it to Uyolo for specific marketing purposes.
Anything you want to share with the JCU community?
To enjoy your time at John Cabot as much as you can, because being in such a beautiful and multicultural environment truly is a unique opportunity!