Claned x Startup Refugees – increasing diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship through immigrant training

Corona epidemy forcing all training online
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The cooper­ation between Claned and Startup Refugees started approx­im­ately a year ago, in 2019. After Corona epidemy hit the whole of Finland, like the rest of the world, the cooper­ation was intens­ified - as many other organ­iz­a­tions, Startup Refugees needed to move all training online very quickly. All the courses planned for summer 2020 could not be organized in classrooms as planned – everything had to go online - and with a tight schedule. 

Claned has been sup­porting NGOs such as Startup Refugees by offering them Claned’s learning platform with pro bono con­tracts. “It is very important to us to support such diversity and inclusion pro­moting actors as Startup Refugees – we admire their unique business model - they collect applicants’ skill pro­files on their website and inform them about pos­i­tions with matching skill pro­files. If the applicants per­ceive that they lack certain skills that fre­quently come up in the vacancies, they can attend courses organized by Startup Refugees to gain these missing com­pet­encies.  The courses provided by Startup Refugees are con­cen­trated on devel­oping espe­cially work-related or entre­pren­eurship skills that will con­tribute to the employment of immig­rants”, says Mervi Palander, one of the founders of Claned.

Startup Refugees has def­in­itely suc­ceeded in its aims – the organ­iz­ation has been able to employ over 850 refugees and immig­rants to work in paid vacancies (intern­ships and other kinds of employ­ments not included in this count). Over 200 immig­rants inter­ested in entre­pren­eurship have par­ti­cipated in their entre­pren­eurship courses.

Quick course launch with help of content producer organization TAT

The hard work has paid off – only in one month, Startup refugees were able to launch the first online course regarding entre­pren­eurship for immig­rants. However, Startup Refugees received ideas and examples on how to build learning content and assign­ments from TAT (Economy and Youth) – a Finnish organ­iz­ation spe­cialized in sup­porting young people’s employment in Finland. Without them, Startup Refugees would not have suc­ceeded in launching the online course so quickly. Startup Refugees’ course launch has been an ideal project to TAT, since TAT’s aim is to “build bridges between school and working life by providing engaging learning solu­tions with actual knowhow about entre­pren­eurship, work and eco­nomics”, as Lauri Vaara, Ped­ago­gical Expert at TAT, points out. 

“We hope that through our ser­vices the young­sters find their strengths, pas­sions and a mean­ingful place in the society,” Vaara continues. 

Claned’s intuitive course platform enabling automated learning data management

“It has been a great col­lab­or­ation with Claned and TAT. Claned learning platform has saved us a lot of effort and time in organ­izing our online course. Without Claned we would have had to ask the course par­ti­cipants to return all assign­ments via e-mail. Con­tents in forms of videos, tem­plates etc. would have filled our e-mail inboxes. Now we were able to collect all assign­ments in Claned. On top of that, material sharing on the board has been so easy. This kind of easy man­age­ab­ility has saved us a lot of time.  Addi­tionally, we would not have been able to collect as much feedback so easily and auto­mat­ically from all our course materials – with the help of Claned’s plat­forms ana­lytics, we were able to follow con­stantly and easily the course material ratings given by our course par­ti­cipants. Moreover, we were able to scale up our training in Finland and even aboard thanks to Claned and provide training to cus­tomers which we oth­erwise would not be able to serve due to their loc­ation. We aim to provide online courses as a part of our core ser­vices in the future”, Kati Lap­pet­eläinen, Head of Business Program at Startup Refugees, summarizes.

Entrepreneurship summer course promoting diversity and inclusion in business

According to Lap­pet­eläinen, Startup Refugee’s summer course in Entre­pren­eurship is their first-ever course organized solely in an online envir­onment. In this course, there are 29 par­ti­cipants from dif­ferent areas around Finland. In many immig­rants’ Finnish hometowns, it is hard to receive service or guidance in English, let alone in other lan­guages such as Arabic, Persian, or Somalia - to mention a few. Startup Refugees, on the con­trary, can serve immig­rants with the above­men­tioned lan­guages and now the organ­iz­ation can serve their clients every­where via Claned. 

“As far as we know, this is also the first-ever inter­active online course regarding entre­pren­eurship in Finland. The inter­activity comes e.g. from online work­shops organized in Zoom meetings,” Lap­pet­eläinen states. “In these work­shops, we have included entre­preneurs with immigrant back­grounds as speakers. Claned has also brought changes to the ped­ago­gical aspects of our courses e.g. we have added short reflective written assign­ments after the work­shops to help learners under­stand what they have learned in each module.” 

“It is very important for immig­rants and even more important for immigrant entre­preneurs to be able to operate in digital envir­on­ments to become employed, succeed as an entre­preneur or even keep up with the digital devel­opment of society’s func­tions,” Lap­pet­eläinen points out. Even the access for digital learning devices might become a chal­lenge of itself according to Lap­pet­eläinen: “It has been a bit chal­lenging for some course par­ti­cipants to study since they do not own a com­puter or a laptop.”

We can all agree that Startup Refugees and Claned are doing some ground­breaking work in pro­moting diversity and inclusion by providing entre­pren­eurial training to immig­rants regardless of time and place. It is utterly important to provide high quality training for the ones who do not have the same starting point, access to resources, inform­ation and guidance as most of the Finns do.

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