After settling in a new location, refugees often face many barriers to gaining employment. Many face language barriers, lack of professional network, skills or certifications not locally recognized, and many others. According to French nonprofit Kodiko, only 1 in 4 refugees in France find a job after five years living in their new country1. At the Western Union Foundation, we believe everyone deserves a chance at a better life, and meaningful employment is key to rebuilding these lives that were disrupted. That is why we partnered with Kodiko, whose mission is to support refugees with professional integration through a mentorship program and to provide career training in a professional setting to help empower refugees in the workplace. Kodiko works to create a more inclusive society and offers support towards refugee employment.
The Western Union Foundation funded a pilot program in 2019 with employees in the Western Union Paris office. This program was extremely successful for both the three refugee beneficiaries and also enriching for the Western Union employee mentors. As shared by one mentee, Albashir, “My partner allowed me to find a balance in life. She helped me find a job. Kodiko was a door to find something else… and helped me prepare my interviews and apply.” Albashir currently works at Western Union as a customer advisor and developed a strong relationship with his mentor.
Shekiba Abdali is another example of someone who greatly benefited from Kodiko’s program. She was a hair salon business owner with multiple employees in her home country but had to give this up to flee conflict. After arriving in Paris she faced many challenges in rebuilding her life, including not knowing French and her diploma from University in Afghanistan not being recognized. She continued searching for a job, but it wasn’t until she found Kodiko did she start seeing results. Shekiba says “Kodiko’s mentorship helped me understand how to go for a job interview in France, and it helped me a lot to know how to present myself, speak and dress because it’s different in my country of origin.”
In 2021, Western Union Foundation will be funding a continuation of this co-training program to pair five refugees with five Western Union employees in Paris. This program will include training sessions, mentor meetings, and participation in other Kodiko-hosted career training events.
1source OECD 2016 report