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Match – Made in Startup Refugees

Looking for skilled and motivated professionals? Hire through Startup Refugees!

Startup Refugees is a social innovation that offers asylum seekers, refugees, and other immigrants support in finding employment, developing their professional skills, and starting a business in Finland.

Together with their network members, they have provided more than 1625 job opportunities, better professional skills for 12 500 newcomers and supported more than 900 people interested in starting their own business. Their model is ready to be scaled wherever refugees and other newcomers need support in employment and entrepreneurship.

How did everything start?

Startup Refugees was founded in 2015 when suddenly more than 32 000 asylum seekers arrived in Finland, mainly from the Middle East. Finland had not experienced something similar since World War II and the country was not well prepared.

Two adventurers and entrepreneurs, Riku Rantala and Tunna Milonoff, realized that the refugees were actually a brain gain for Finland, and that they were eager to find work or start a business in their new home country. They called together everyone who was willing to do something concrete to support asylum seekers’ employment or entrepreneurship. What happened next was a surprise: within two weeks, the initiative had been backed up by several government ministries and departments, NGOs, private individuals, and more than 250 companies who wanted to offer their services in one way or another. This is how Startup Refugees was born.

Photographer: Iiro Immonen

Soon after, a group of active network members started to visit reception centers to gather the skills and background information of asylum seekers, and find out what they wanted to do. This gave them the knowledge and awareness of the real needs of newcomers, and activities were then tailored to meet those. As the years went by, the people from Startup Refugees realized that it’s not only asylum seekers and refugees that have these needs, any newcomer in Finland has them. Therefore, they started providing services for other immigrants as well. Understanding newcomers’ real needs and finding solutions to them is at the core of Startup Refugees’ work.

Startup Refugees has created a fast employment and entrepreneurship integration model that answers to newcomers’ real needs.

Today, the Startup Refugees network consists of more than 2000 members, including companies, private and public sector organizations, and individuals. They welcome anyone to join, as long as they offer something concrete to support newcomers in employment, skills development or entrepreneurship.

With the help of their partners from Futurice, they developed the Match – Made in Startup Refugees platform, which currently holds more than 9000 newcomer profiles in its database. The profiles include information about a person’s education, work experience, skills, motivation, wishes, and needs for the next step in becoming employed. In addition, their interest in entrepreneurship and possible business ideas are being mapped.

By collecting these professional profiles, Startup Refugees obtains valuable information regarding the actual needs of newcomers, needs that guide all of the network’s actions. It means that when you offer a job opportunity, mentoring, or other support through their platform, they always match your offer to the newcomer who has a true need for it. 100% of the people who have a profile in Match are motivated and ready to work, update their skills, grow their network, and many want to start their own business!

The people of the platform have noticed that many newcomers need information about Finnish working life and networks, especially when entering the IT field. That is why they have already organized many Mentoring Programs, the latest ones with Telia and Tietoevry, and have achieved great results. Of the people participating in these programs, almost 60% have found work shortly after.

Photographer: Iiro Immonen

What kind of professionals can be hired through Startup Refugees?

Startup Refugees can offer employees with a great variety of skill sets and educational backgrounds: from restaurant and construction assistants to nurses, engineers, marketing specialists, teachers, lawyers, and IT-specialists. They can offer workforce to many fields that are currently suffering from labor shortage, as well as expertise that can be difficult to find elsewhere in Finland.

If we look more closely at the IT field, great options that they can offer are for example Cloud Analysts, UI UX Designers, Cyber Security professionals, Full Stack Developers, and Software Engineers to name a few.

When a company hires through Startup Refugees, they get support during the recruitment process and onboarding. Hiring through the platform is free of charge, and every single one of their candidates are very motivated and ready to start work as soon as possible.

The Startup Refugees network is in constant dialogue with companies to support them in diverse and inclusive hiring practices. They are always looking for ways to develop Finnish working life to be more welcoming for newcomers!

We will post updates throughout the month on ICTOulu, as well as on our LinkedIn channel. If you want to know more about our activities and we how can support your business, please feel free to contact us.