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

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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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