Launched in August 2012 by three students on the masters programme in civil sector studies at Charles University in Prague, Pragulic’s mission is twofold: to provide employment to homeless people (it currently employs 10 guides) while raising awareness of the hardships they face.
The initiative targets both Czech and foreign tourists. There are currently ten such tours being offered, focusing on both the city’s downtown and outskirts. “I’m showing people the other face of Prague, dark places of prostitutes, pimps, gangs of thieves, drug dealers, junkies and everything that normal tourists rarely see”, said a Pragulic guide, Karel Lampa.
Pragulic is now entirely financed by revenue raised through payment for its services. “Since basically the end of 2013 we became a financial sustainable, and then profitable, organisation,” said Tereza Jurečkova, the project’s co-founder and director.
Prague has a population of 1.2 million people, some 4000 of whom are estimated to be homeless and are often “quite happily” ignored by the rest of the city. “Many people really criticize the homeless, they throw them all into the same bag, and that’s just not right,” Pragulic’s founders said.
With around 16,000 customers to date, Pragulic has been so successful that it has provided a blueprint for similar projects in two other Czech cities, České Budějovice and Olomouc. “We have local teams there who answer to us under our brand with our know-how,” Jurečkova said.