Welcome.Place — Impact Spotlight
What challenge is Welcome.Place tackling?
MAIN CHALLENGE: Refugees crisis around the world + limited long-term support for social and economic inclusion by NGOs and Governments.
The number of refugees and immigrants in the world has grown significantly in the past decade. UNHCR Global Trends 2020 indicates that at least 84.2 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Currently, one in ninety-five people on earth has fled their home as a result of a conflict or persecution. Due to the conflict in Ukraine, between 5M and 10M Ukrainian refugees are expected for 2022. In the meantime,280,000 new refugees arrive in Europe along with 3M non-European immigrants every year (this includes students, laborers, skilled workers, etc).
Despite this mix between continuous arrivals caused by economic migration and increasing arrivals due to the current crisis, we face a lack of involvement and continued support from NGOs, governments and corporates on the long-term inclusion of refugees. Additionally, there is an absence of targeted migrant support projects to facilitate their integration. More importantly, the focus is limited to the first 3 months or a short-term period and this includes fragmented solutions. There is no all-in-one solution that can be accessed by refugees.
What solution does Welcome.place provide?
Welcome.Place is focused on preparing and enabling these individuals to transition into the society to promote social and economic inclusion. It is a curated marketplace that gives refugees and immigrants direct access to essential services such as a bank account, internet, job training, etc.
Welcome.Place’s current offering includes 3 packages:
- Welcome Package: a basket of services to enable them to move forward more serenely. This package includes a SIM card with 100 Go of internet, a civil responsibility insurance that will protect them against unforeseen accidents and a gift/prepaid card that allows them to purchase products and services from our partners (Ikea, L’Oreal, Fnac, Carrefour etc.) for free or at a fair price. They can receive donations via the same card.
- Integration: access to language learning courses, practical skills such as coding or painting etc, networking or finding new friends via our matching algorithm, letting them help other people (e.g. a Syrian teacher can help french students to learn Arabic)
- Social and economic inclusion: all newcomers can find sustainable job offers but also create their own professional activity all over Europe like SINGA with more than 20 entrepreneurial programs of Start In Europe, or Station F
We are driven by a strong commitment to systemic change based on a human-centered approach. Welcome Place’s infrastructure is a pioneering social innovation. The prepaid gift card allows all citizens but also NGOs and companies to give money directly to refugees. It eliminates all unnecessary intermediaries that slow down the delivery of donations to the refugee’s pocket. It reduces inefficiency and the risk of corruption. But at the same time, it increases the efficiency of services. It empowers the person, not the bureaucracy.
Welcome.Place has an ambitious roadmap. It plans to give access to essential services for at least 100,000 refugees by September 2022. The high estimate would even be to provide this service to the potential 5M Ukrainian and other refugees by the end of 2023. Over the next 5 years, Welcome.place aims to have its platform recognized in Europe and the United States. They want to create a level of awareness whereby arrivals know and think about Welcome.Place before departure.
Why is the project important and what do we like about the project?
First, Welcome.Place tackles one of the main crises of our century (refugee crisis) which will continue to grow. The most recent UNHCR Refugee Statistics as of mid 2021 indicate that there are 26.6 million refugees and this number has been exacerbated by the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. It is crucial to note that more than half of the refugees are under the age of 18. Ensuring they have access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement is vital to nourishing the future generation.
Then, Welcome.Place promotes mobility as an asset. Indeed, people across borders and societies lead to the spread of ideas, cultures and greater diversity. A growing number of studies indicates that diversity (openness to different cultures, religions, ethnicities) — also plays an important role in economic growth. A working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research(2011) indicates that “the interplay between cultural assimilation and cultural diffusion have played a significant role in giving rise to differential patterns of economic development across the globe.” Besides, the project solution has universal applicability and is easily replicable. The needs among refugees, non-European immigrants and all newcomers are often similar. They require immediate access to essential services when they arrive in a host country but often the costs of acquiring these services vary. Welcome.Place makes it easier for refugees to register, submit their documentation and enable them to access services and direct discounts at a fair and reasonable price through the marketplace. The refugee is just a click away from starting his life in a new country with a complete package ! This can include a bank card, a SIM card, insurance (liability, phone), a gift card (reload the card on said platform with x% of discount) and access to social/professional networks.
What are the main concerns? Are there any key negative externalities that need to be addressed for this project?
Welcome.Place’s solution is based on a preliminary assumption that refugees have access to a mobile device and are able to readily access the platform. Nevertheless, their 10 years of SINGA’s experience working with refugees in Europe showed them that a smartphone is often one of the first investments of new comers. Due to the long distance with their native country, they need to communicate with their families or get news from their country.
Refugees and migrants may also lack the know-how to use the platform and may require assistance in-person to sign up, submit documents and learn how to follow progress on their application. Even if the refugee population is often young and digital agiles, it would be worthy to develop the platform in the users’ languages and an easy-to-use UX.
Moreover, the marketplace cannot be a digital-only solution. It requires a robust support team on-field to enable wide-scale adoption.
Finally, integrating refugees is a global and complex issue. Addressing any marketplace features that might lead to exclusion of certain refugees should be carefully addressed.
Any follow-up questions? Want to talk directly to the founders?
Please, join their dedicated Discord channel: https://discord.gg/3cdRpJ7U4c
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