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Remote working opens up new job opportunities for refugees – FCA to collaborate with Startup Refugees in Zaatari camp

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Residents of the Jordanian refugee camp Zaatari will receive entrepreneurship and ICT lessons from Finland remotely.

Finn Church Aid and Startup Refugees are about to begin a collaboration in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. The project’s mentors in Finland will offer ICT entrepreneurship training remotely to young people living in Zaatari.

For nine years, the camp of nearly 80,000 residents has provided a home for people fleeing the Syrian civil war. However, the lives of young people in particular are marked by a lack of training and employment opportunities in the camp. The training programme launched this week responds to this need.

45 people living in the camp will receive training on the opportunities freelance jobs in the ICT sector can offer and on how to market their skills. The 15 most active participants in the programme will be selected for mentoring by internationally assembled ICT, marketing and HR professionals.

Zaatari residents have been excited about the mentoring opportunities. Rana Ibrahim Alsees, 40, hopes to get training to help her market her craft business on social media.

Zakaria Tahseen Alkilani, 25, is a games programmer who hopes to run his own online business by this autumn. Both Rana and Zakaria will attend the training from home.

The mentors in the programme, which will continue until August, are also looking forward to the coming months.

“I moved to Finland about eight years ago, so I know about the challenges in finding your place in a new environment,” says user interface designer and mentor Kazi Athar.

“But everything went great for me, and that’s why I want to give something back. I believe that supporting the employment of refugees and asylum seekers benefits everyone: employers, the economy, cities and entire states – and, of course, the people themselves.”

Kazi says that in the ICT sector you can work from anywhere in the world and “all you need is a computer and the right kind of attitude”.

Felipe Gasnier, a web and graphic designer who has joined the mentoring programme, is also looking forward to future meetings.

“There is always demand for ICT professionals. I will help my student create a portfolio and a website and see how they could showcase their skills.”

ICT sector can provide employment regardless of where you live

At the heart of all Startup Refugees’ work is an offer of support from an extensive network of partners, along with training and mentoring provided by top experts in many fields.

“A huge number of people who want to share their professional skills and practical advice with those living in the camp have become involved as mentors. Our work in Finland has shown that when people with the same interests are brought together, miracles begin to happen,” says Mustafa Abdulameer, Global Director at Startup Refugees.

Finn Church Aid’s work in Jordan focuses on improving the livelihoods of refugees, youth and women.

“The global shift towards remote work will open up new employment opportunities for refugees as well. The experience of Startup Refugees mentors shows that the ICT sector can employ refugees regardless of where they live. It is important for the project participants to see that their starting point won’t matter; they can succeed anyway,” says Ville Wacklin, Senior Programme Manager at Finn Church Aid.

Startup Refugees is a non-profit organisation established in 2015 to support refugees in finding employment and setting up companies. By now, Startup Refugees has provided nearly 1,000 jobs in Finland and supported more than 200 business ideas. The Startup Refugees network includes 1,000 companies, organisations and individuals who all in their own way support the employment and entrepreneurship of refugees.

Finn Church Aid (FCA) is Finland’s largest international aid organisation. FCA works to promote education, peace and livelihoods. As part of its efforts to improve livelihoods, FCA develops the conditions where companies need to operate and helps people start their own businesses in its programme countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

By Ulriikka Myöhänen / FCA, Elisa Vepsäläinen / Startup Refugees