Student starts aid agency in Paris

Marketing Management student Maja Seidenfaden from Business Academy Aarhus started a new aid agency during her exchange semester in Paris.

People are often too shy to contact to a refugee, even if they did want to,  Maja Seidenfaden believes. During a semester in Paris, she started an aid agency InterSharing, which helps migrants and the homeless in Paris.

InterSharing's volunteers stand at the entrance to supermarkets and hand out shopping lists to passers-by.

This lists items that can be useful for everyday life for a homeless refugee.

InterSharing then accepts the donated goods and gives them to the homeless. Examples of goods could be toilet paper, razors, sanitary towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes, nail scissors and soap.

‘People live on the street everywhere,’ says Maja on a phone from Paris.

People want to help but don’t know how to

With help from eight other young people from different parts of the world, the 23-year-old student wants to help people on the streets of Paris meet their basic needs.

‘People sleep on every street corner and on heating grates. It must be terribly cold,’ says Maja, who is the founder and team-leader of the aid agency.

According to the French authorities, up to 80 migrants arrive in Paris every day.

Authorities cannot keep up

Maja Seidenfaden believes that the refugee crisis has hit Paris faster than the authorities can manage.

‘What we can do is meet people on the street, where they are. My impression is that InterSharing helps exactly where it is most necessary,’ she says.

Maja and the aid agency want to create the opportunity for ordinary people to help, people who otherwise wouldn’t know what to do.

‘I find that people are too shy to help. There is an enormous amount of people who have never spoken to a refugee, even though they are all over the place. I really think that is a shame.’

Started the project whilst studying

Maja started the aid agency as a project at ESCE International Business School in Paris, where she has just taken an exchange semester.

The idea came to her in Paris, but several of the tools she used to establish the project, she was taught at Business Academy Aarhus.

‘I have especially used my knowledge about marketing and about how to create awareness about a cause. It is also an advantage for me that I have learnt to use the tools in practice and bring ideas to life.’ 

The project will continue even though Maja is leaving

Just before the Christmas, Maja will travel back to Denmark. Next year, she will complete her 4th semester at Marketing Management at Business Academy Aarhus. In February, she will do her internship. She is not sure where yet, right now she is still looking for an internship.

Even though Maja is leaving Paris, InterSharing will continue. There are still many donations that need to be distributed to the needy. Maja has therefore entered into a brief partnership with the French organisation MOBIL'douche who will continue the project until all the donations have been distributed.

‘We have achieved so much,’ says the energetic young student and concludes that ‘the stay in Paris has been the best three months of my life’.