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Momentum 04 Oct 2019

Social companies that are changing the future of refugees

Social entrepreneurship is known for addressing society’s most pressing problems. The migratory crisis is one of them, forcing millions of people to go to countries where they face an uncertain future. Social enterprises are working hard to support them, offer them the opportunities they need and portray a different – unprejudiced – image of refugees.

The world is witnessing the largest number of displacements in history. UN data show that 70.8 million people were forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution at the end of 2018. Nearly 30 million of them are refugees, and over half of the refugees are minors under the age of 18. According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, the main social problems refugees encounter are: job market integration difficulties, xenophobia and racism, lack of access to education, and depression and psychological trauma.

BBVA Momentum, the bank’s program supporting social entrepreneurship, is promoting a group of companies working to improve refugees’ quality of life and opportunities. These are some of the initiatives they are carrying out:

Maide Mutfak (Turkey)

One of the biggest obstacles refugees face is the lack of job opportunities. For this reason, the catering company Maide Mutfak decided to tap the potential of refugee women who are forced to abandon their countries of origin and are looking for an opportunity for themselves and their families.

Maide Mutfak offers its users complete training so they can work or manage their own catering business. “The goal is for them to start to be true professionals, and find a job easily thanks to the certification and experience they obtain in this company,” explains Shirley Kaston, co-founder of the company. The program includes culinary techniques and continuous training on topics related to entrepreneurship, such as marketing, financial management, taking photographs of food, sales and vendor purchases. Thanks to Maide Murfak, these women feel integrated in society and can develop their full potential to get a job and prosper.

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Maide Mutfak offers its users complete training so they can work or manage their own catering business.

Videogames Without Borders (España)

Video Games Without Borders (VGWB) is an independent organization that is part of a global community with a common goal: “We firmly believe that videogames and digital apps can improve the world in general and quality of life in particular,” say two of its directors Francesco Cavallari and Montserrat Villar.

For VGWB, video games are a vehicle for social and environmental change in the framework of the collaborative economy. In its community, the best professionals in the industry can contribute their knowledge and creativity to have the maximum possible impact, and inspire and train young talent around the world, including in developing countries. The model is based on voluntary contributions to a specific project until the necessary financing is secured, a team is hired and the collaborators are paid based on market prices.

One of its biggest accomplishments was the creation of Antura and the Letters, a video game designed to help Syrian refugee children who are not in school learn Arabic. This initiative allows the children to learn to read and write through fun activities that keep their attention and motivate them to learn. The VGWN team has recently launched another version of this game for children to learn English.

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"Antura and the Letters" is a video game designed by Video Games Without Borders to help Syrian refugee children who are not in school learn Arabic.

Break Bread, Break Borders (Estados Unidos)

Break Bread, Break Borders (BBBB) is a catering company that offers delicious appetizers, dishes and desserts from the Middle East, prepared exclusively by refugee women.“We focus on economic empowerment through food and culture,” explains its founder, Jin-Ya Huang.

These women who are identified through refugee agencies, stand out for their culinary passion. They are the heart of a business that offers them the experience and training they need, under the guidance of professional chefs. BBBB is investing in women to turn them into a team of expert chefs, local food entrepreneurs, and empowering them to become leaders in their own community.” The company also acts as a bridge between its students and the catering customers, offering an immersive restaurant experience, where the guests have the opportunity to get to know them, learn about their culture and experiences while they eat.

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Break Bread, Break Borders (BBBB) is a catering company that offers appetizers, dishes and desserts from the Middle East, prepared exclusively by refugee women.

These are some of the solutions launched by BBVA Momentum entrepreneurs. You can learn more in the section “Entrepreneurship”.

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