Karine Pathinvo & Anne Gestin
“In 2017, we set up Troctachambre to offer students a turnkey collaborative solution for affordable, secure and socially connected housing”
Driven by a lack of simple and affordable accommodation solutions, Karine seeks to develop an effective and concrete support to encourage and support students in their move for studies, internships, linguistic stays, academic exchanges … That’s why, she cofounded Troctachambre with Anne Gestin, her partner. This accommodation solution offers students to exchange their room for another, or for a service they give to the owner who houses them.
Today, Les Grandes Idées gives them the floor to understand the student questioning that many have experienced. She explains in more detail this innovative formula that follows a “win-win” logic for everyone!
Hello Anne, Hello Karine, can you tell us more on the reasons which drive you to create Troctachambre?
Anne: Three years ago, as a student’s parent, I faced the problem of student housing. My daughter wanted to study in Hauts-de-Seine when we live in Seine-Saint-Denis. We looked for housing. We started to contact the CROUS, it was full, then real estate agencies (800 €/month), a roommate (500 €/month) … She went back and forth for 2 years! This really surprised me because we are still well off with two salaries at home. Even so, we were not even able to pay for housing for our daughter …
I then told myself that we should not be the only parents in this case. And indeed, it’s a problem affecting thousands of parents, even pushing them to take credit for their children.
Karine : I experienced the same housing problem when I wanted to continue my studies in London. I was an au pair for a year, I loved the city and its inhabitants and I wanted to continue the adventure by studying there. Unfortunately the family, I still see regularly, needed more hours of attendance than my student schedule would allow and I was forced to look for accommodation. I finally had to go back to Paris (a great city indeed), at my parents’ house, being unable to find a suitable housing.
When Anne told me the story of her daughter, I thought it was crazy that more than 15 years later, we still experience the same issues for accommodation.
We thought we had to act. We did some research and found that:
- Students are 20 million in Europe and 2.5 million in France
- Their rent represents on average 55% of a student’s budget
- 1 student out of 3 does not study what he wants because he can not stay in the city of his choice.
- And especially 1 in 5 students live beneath the poverty line in France.
That’s why we set up Troctachambre in 2017. We would like to offer students a turnkey solution for affordable, secure and socially connected housing. Troctachambre is a collaborative room-to-room exchange platform that also offers intergenerational housing.
Why was it important for each of you to get started in this engaged business?
Anne : When I discovered that one-third of students do not go further in their studies because they can not afford to stay in the city they had chosen, one in five students live beneath the poverty line. This is clearly unacceptable for me and can be avoided.
The solution of bartering rooms allows parents and a students to see the future more serenely by avoiding them to go into debt, and make choices that correspond to their real desires. It could lead to a new generation of students who will be more fulfilled in their professional life. For those who do not have a room to exchange, we also want to offer them an opportunity through intergenerational housing.
We wanted to develop intergenerational housing because the creation of social bonds between generations is a value that tends to be lost while it is essential to our society. In addition. The loneliness of the elderly is a true concern for us.
Karine : It is the same for me. That in the 21st century, in France, young people sleep in their car or do not study what they wish to, makes me furious. I was very frustrated that I could not study in London and I do not want other young people to feel the same frustration. Housing and budget don’t have to be a brake to studies. It is clearly unfair and creates social inequalities that should be unfounded.
Anne and I met while Anne was a volunteer in the association where I worked. So for us, it seems logical and important to create a social and solidarity-based company based on our common values.
How went your first contacts with the families and the educational structures ?
The families were enthusiastic. This concept of exchange is pleasing even if it is not known. It allows you to save money, discover other cultures, get out of your bubble.
More than a hundred partner schools and universities are also happy to offer an affordable housing alternative to their students thanks to a partnership with Troctachambre. They want to participate in this momentum of solidarity and mutual aid. Word of mouth works better and better.
Overall we are happy and motivated by the way our solution has been welcomed. However, as our concept, as the room-to-room exchange or the intergenerational housing, is relatively new, we have a lot to do to do to make it popular.
The network has now taken shape, how do you imagine the future of Troctachambre?
We want to become the reference of united student housing by the swapping room for room but also by the intergenerational housing to facilitate the merger between generations and between individuals. We want to refound again the vital social link to everyone well-being. We have imagined a lot of innovations for 2020 to extend our community and to answer in a better way to students questions, families and elderly people.
By the way, our website will have a new look and it be easier for everybody to offer his room, to fill its exchange contract, etc. You’ll know more about this in 2020 !
We want to become the reference for solidarity student housing by the exchange of rooms for rooms but also by intergenerational housing to get different generations and individuals closer. We would like to recreate the social link which seems essential to a well-being for all.
We’ve come up with a lot of new stuff for 2020 to expand our community and meet the needs of students, families and seniors even better. Moreover, our website will have a new look. It will be even more ergonomic to deposit his room, fulfill his exchange contract, etc. You’ll know more in 2020!
Thank you Anne and Karine !
Thank you Les Grandes Idées !