Beam is the world’s first platform to crowdfund employment training for homeless people and support them into skilled work for the long term. It provides them with a vital support network and the resources needed to secure a stable career, paving their way toward true independence.
At Bright Network we believe that everyone should have access to the best opportunities and the tailored advice they need to succeed as the workforce of tomorrow. We believe that this can be achieved through fostering a strong network of people around you. So, when we heard about Beam, we were keen to discover how their award-winning platform got started.
Beam works by embracing the power of technology to tell homeless people’s stories and share their dreams for the future. It allows the public to donate directly to their crowdfunding campaigns – influencing lives directly from their smartphone. We caught up with Beam’s CEO, Alex Stephany, to discover what inspired him to set up the platform and why it’s so important to him.
How Beam got started
After becoming friends with a homeless man at his local Tube station, Alex started becoming increasingly troubled by homelessness. He would buy the man cups of coffee and socks when it got cold, but over time his condition was only getting worse. This made Alex wonder how he could do more.
Previously he was the CEO of tech platform JustPark, so he began to think about how he could blend his technological knowledge with helping individuals. After researching and diving into the industry, it became apparent that addiction and bereavement were the two most common causes of homelessness.
Then came the tougher question - if these things happened to him, would he become homeless? The answer: probably not. Why? Because of his training and support network.
Alex and Tony at London Homelessness Awards 2018
Alex started turning his vision into reality. Coming from an entirely different industry, it meant jumping into a brand-new sector he wasn’t familiar with. But his wealth of technical experience and love of learning served him well.
He dove in headfirst, meeting with industry experts. “It was hugely valuable to meet with such senior people, who were very generous in their time and receive their feedback,” he says.
At Beam, he’s surrounded himself with ambitious and motivated individuals who are passionate about making an impact and driving Beam forward. There are currently 12 of them, but the team is quickly growing.
Onward and upward
This is just the beginning for Beam! Since launching in September 2017, they’ve been able to fund 139 campaigns and support 47 people into work so far, with the rest in training or job hunting.
One of these is Tony - the first person to join the platform. When Tony first found out about Beam, he was skeptical. “I wasn’t too sure why people would want to donate to me,” he says. “I was unemployed at the time, been on benefits for years. No one’s got a lot of faith in people that are on benefits and don’t work.”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
But luckily the Beam community has shown him - and 138 other homeless men and women - that there are many people who believe in them. Tony is now happily working as an electrician and living in his own home.
Tony is now working as an electrician
Beam has won a number of awards for its work, including first prize in the London Homelessness Awards, and Best Use of Technology in the Homeless Sector in 2018. In 2019, the platform was named the overall winner of the Tech4Good Awards, and Hottest Tech for Good Startup in Europe at The Europas.
The highlight for Alex has been seeing people who’ve got into work through Beam make small donations to other people’s campaigns every month. “It feels rewarding to put people in a position of empowerment,” he says.