NaTakallam (“we speak” in Arabic) is the first small social enterprise to leverage the digital economy to provide refugees, displaced people and their host communities with access to an income, human connection, global exposure and a sense of community – all at once. Our solution is grounded in market needs, and its impact is multilayered: 1) providing income access to refugees; (2) flipping the traditional lens of viewing refugees as recipients of need to agents of their own future as tutors, teachers, cultural exchange partners and translators — giving them a sense of dignity, pride, and empowerment; (3) building bridges and changing the narrative around refugees who all too often feel devastated by the label of “refugee;” and (4) enabling people who would have never had the chance to meet a refugee to do so, in a very powerful and unique way through language and cultural exchange that is a paid service, rather than charity. To date, refugees have self-generated over $1 million USD through NaTakallam programs and services.
Our CEO & Co-Founder, Aline Sara, previously participated in two SOCAP panels in 2019. This year, we’d like to invite Jasjit Singh, Professor of Strategy and the Paul Dubrule Chaired Professor of Sustainable Development at INSEAD, to interview Aline about social entrepreneurship. We also want to spotlight four of our language partners from four unique backgrounds and regions in a panel conversation moderated by Aline. The panelists teach Arabic, Persian, Spanish or French through NaTakallam and each bring personal perspectives about the global migration crisis, digital inclusion of refugees, online learning and the role of the internet in creating livelihoods. Aline can also briefly touch on her experience as a female BIPOC entrepreneur, if relevant and of interest.
Many of today’s refugees hold skills in technology, web-based platforms, and many other digital fields, coming from more white collar professions. Even for the most vulnerable refugees who do not yet hold advanced digital skills, unlocking the opportunities in digital work will be key to ensuring their future income opportunities. NaTakallam enables refugees to earn an income from in-demand skills grounded in the global internet economy needs. Because it is in sync with market demands, NaTakallam provides a sustainable model of income generation to displaced communities—which also gives them the opportunity to travel the world through their computers, develop skills for the global international marketplace and lift them out of isolation by the very nature of the work – namely teaching a culture, a language, and sharing one’s story.
The refugees improve their economic status, but also have opportunities for career mobility, professional development, and preparation for the future of work which will be increasingly digital. As SOCAP aims to convene ideas and capital to catalyze world change, the NaTakallam story is a story of a woman-founded social enterprise, innovative digital education, impact-focused digital and social inclusivity, and active alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.