In 2009, when I arrived in France as a refugee, I spent hundreds of euros calling my family back home. Several weeks later, I realized that some services were 10 times cheaper.
On February 28, Kat Borlongan former director of la French Tech and Chief Impact Officer of Contentsquar, sent me a WhatsApp: “Hi Rooh. Is there anything I can do for refugees from Ukraine and elsewhere?” We got on the phone quickly. We realized that there are a lot of companies as well as individuals that want to be helpful in this situation but they don’t know how. After 15 minutes of phone discussion, Kat proposed creating a marketplace that aggregates practical solutions for a refugee: an online language course, legal aid, job offers, etc. I thought about my experiences as a newcomer 13 years ago and thought about other essential services such as a SIM card, a bank account, a sustainable housing solution, etc.
On April 1st, SINGA with its partners organized an hearing of the French presidential election candidates on immigration issues. I met there Caroline Span, the former director of MedNum a social business company that créated refugies.info for the French government. I discussed with her about the project to know her perspective as an expert. A few weeks later she joined us.
This is how Welcome Place was born.
Many people shared their valuable knowledge and experiences with us: Odile Beniflah with her extensive experience with Meetup and Duolingo, Hamze Ghalebi the founder of Remotion & Remolab, Benoît Hamon the former French social economy minister and the current CEO of SINGA Global, Guillaume Capelle the co-founder of SINGA, Maureen Alma Sigliano former vice president of Western Union, Tangui Friant the co-founder of Cardashift, Duc HA DUONG social & tech entrepreneur and the chairman of Passerelles numériques, Sarah MacRae expert in FinTech and financial inclusion for immigrants, Thoms Bajas former chief of staff of the French minister of digital affairs, from Founders Future, my very dear legal expert friend Delphine Lambert, and many others.
We started to gather around the table several players: Salesforce, Creatella, Cardashit, Mirakl, and of course SINGA with its 10 years of experience in social innovation on immigration. Since then, about thirty others have expressed interest in joining us in one way or another. (Their names will be announced on June 20, the International Day of Refugees)
Now that you know the story behind Welcome.Place, let me explain to you what it is.
When immigrants arrive in a new country, they don’t know where to find their needs and who to trust. For instance, they spent between 70 and 200 euros per month just to phone their family back. In 2009, when I arrived in France as a refugee, I spent hundreds of euros calling my family back home. Several weeks later, I realized that some services were 10 times cheaper. Solutions are fragmented and not practical.
Welcome.Place is a curated marketplace. On our web platform, every newcomer can reach valuable services such as a local phone number, a bank account, training & learning solutions, or even a job offer quickly and at a fair price. Welcome.Place gives refugees fast and direct access to these essential services.
We want to help refugees without a network, lacking any familiarity with their host society. The economic and social inclusion of newcomers and refugees normally takes 5 years. It is highly costly for the person as well as for society. We want to reduce this inclusion period to just 1 year.
Welcome.Place’s goal is to facilitate and promote social and economic inclusion of immigrants. Our goal is to provide a service that adresses 3 millions of Ukrainian and other refugees by the end of 2023.
1- a gift/prepaid card that allows them to purchase products and services from our partners for free or at a fair price. They can receive donations via the same card.
2- A SIM card with 100 Gig of internet.
3- A civil responsibility insurance that will protect them against unforeseen accidents.
The marketplace will be open to companies, NGOs and individuals that want to participate in social and economic of any immigrants.
Welcome Place is among the 10 Cardashift nominees. Two winners will receive €1M in cryptocurrency funding to change the world. Cardashift sourced 250 impactful projects from around the world and shortlisted 10.We will be presenting Welcome Place on May 18 on Twitch to the Cardashift community. They will select the best project. You are also invited to this session to support us.
If you want to vote and invest in crypto, check it out here: Cardashift – Welcome Place
On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, we will officially launch Welcome.Place and start registering refugees on the platform.
We will launch Welcome Package our 1st product with our prestigious partner. Be patient! We will soon reveal the identity of this leading player in the finance industry. 🙂
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Help us ensure that any newcomers never relive the same experiences as I had 13 years !