Our founder Mursal arrived in the UK with her mum Patuni as a refugee from Afghanistan. Patuni was a kick-ass civil engineer with experience spanning the globe, who spoke four languages including English fluently. Like many other talented members of their community she faced significant challenge finding work that made use of her ample talent after becoming displaced.
Today, refugees with advanced degrees and valuable skills still face-shocking levels of unemployment or underemployment worldwide. And harmful societal attitudes mean that this situation might even get worse.
Our vision is to create a platform that enables highly-skilled refugees to do work that uses their ample skills. We believe that by demonstrating the immense untapped talent in the refugee community through our platform we can shift how society perceives displaced people – from a burden to an asset. The Chatterbox learning platform does this by connecting professionals who want to learn languages and culture for business with refugee tutors who share their professional backgrounds. This bond creates a two-way mechanism for integration, helping the learner identify with refugees and helping the displaced person to elevate their professional aspirations and employability.
We train refugees on the platform to provide live video coaching to learners who they match with based on shared professional backgrounds and interests. They help learners work through our online self-study language courses to drive up relevance and engagement in students’ learning. After all, who better to teach an engineer Arabic than an Arabic speaking engineer? Soon, refugees on the platform will also be able to create and sell their own modules in their area of professional or cultural expertise. Our digital platform generates valuable data on learners’ interests and preferences that can support our sustainability. It also validates refugees’ hard and soft skills, data that can be used to help them access even more opportunities and services.
The impact on the life of refugees
Tutoring on our platform provides refugees with an hourly income of at least the UK Living Wage foundation rates and above ($11.50+), accounting for at least 50% of our revenues. In addition to financial benefits, refugees working on the Chatterbox platform report elevated social and emotional well-being and rapid socio-economic reintegration into skilled work.
Case studies of our impact:
Hekma had been a human rights lawyer in Sudan for more than a decade before she was forced to flee, driven out because of her vocal advocacy on behalf of women’s rights. We met her through a homelessness charity in London called Crisis. Three months after she started working with us, she had an offer to study with one of our university clients, a job we had provided a reference for, and a legal internships through a Chatterbox student. “Chatterbox is, for me, a lifter. It gives us a sense of integration fully in the society”.
Mouna, who initially trained as an Architect in Syria, was forced to flee when the civil war erupted. She told us she had almost given up on restarting her professional life after becoming a refugee and had been unemployed for many years prior to joining Chatterbox. Now, she is one our most popular tutors. She has earnt thousands of dollars through our platform and is able to use both her language skills and her professional training in her new role.
Mursal Hedayat, Co-founder and CEO
Mursal is a former refugee with personal experience of the social issue we are tackling. She has intimate insight into the refugee experience and is trained in social entrepreneurship as a Year Here social change fellow following a degree in economics. Forbes, MIT, and Ashoka have recognized her work as a social entrepreneur among others.
Guillemette Dejean, Co-founder and COO
Guillemette is a serial tech entrepreneur. Following an honours degree in Political Science and International Development from McGill University, Canada, and experience in the NGO and public sector in Australia, she founded two technology companies and is a Y Combinator alumni. Chatterbox combines her social work, language tutoring and entrepreneurial background.
In just two years since starting up, we have created more than 1,500 hours of work for refugee generating over $150,000 in sales.
In a Chatterbox tutor’s own words “Lots of my students are friends and I am so happy. I have a new perspective of the people and society here… Lots of students are really excited to talk to me because they have not had the chance to meet many people from Syria and the Middle East. They are very excited to meet me and I can give them a clearer idea about Middle Eastern issues - something totally different from what they get from the media This has encouraged me to do a qualification here that will allow me to use my teaching degree from Syria.”
Our future goals, thanks to your donations.
If you donate to us through the Laudato si’ Challenge we will be able to:
Add a Spanish curriculum to our range of teaching resources to benefit refugees displaced by the crisis in Venezuela
Hire a community manager to empower the tutor on our platform to develop courses in their own fields of expertise – think Engineering Arabic, Sudanese Poetry, and Congolese Cuisine taught online by refugees, revealing the full breadth of knowledge in the community
Adapt our platform so that we can use the extensive data we are collecting on individual refugees to give them access to job placements, financial products, and other relevant services
More about us:
Our Website www.wearechatterbox.org ,
Our Mobile app app.wearechatterbox.org
Our Youtube video