Jean Guo, CEO, and Binta Jammeh, COO, of Konexio are working to provide digital skills training to improve the educational and career potential to some of the 200,000 refugees living in Paris. Just as important, they are strategically helping them to connect to the broader Paris community to help them fully integrate into their new community.
Launched less than two years ago, Konexio is already showing results, with most of the participants reporting that they use the skills they learned. Almost three quarters report getting jobs!
Interview with Jean Guo, the CEO, co-founder of Konexio.
The following is the pre-interview with Jean Guo. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.
What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?
The problem that Konexio seeks to solve is the pressing issue of integration and employment for vulnerable populations, notably refugees and migrants. This problem revolves around three key facts:
There are currently 65 million displaced persons globally.
In France, where Konexio operates, there are over 200,000 refugees and asylum seekers, and the unemployment rate within this group is over 50%.
On average it takes 20 years for refugees to reach the same employment level as nationals.
However, according to the European Commission, 1€ invested in integration efforts can yield 2€ in economic benefits. Furthermore, it is is estimated that there will be 1 million vacancies in jobs requiring digital skills in Europe by 2020, while a staggering 90 % of jobs across Europe already require candidates to have at least a basic level of digital literacy.
Our solution is to provide digital and soft skills training to our students, thus providing refugees with opportunities for professional, social and educational development and a pathway to inclusion and integration in their host community.
We currently operate two programs out of our headquarters in Paris. Developed in line with digital skills standards recognized at both the European and international level, our digital skills program consists of a sequence of cumulative courses covering basic computer use and internet navigation to word processing (Microsoft Word) and spreadsheet proficiency (Microsoft Excel).
Our code skills program starts with basic concepts of web development. Digitous is the following course and a 2-step program. The first part involves a full stack curriculum, while the second focuses on hands-on learning by working on tech projects for businesses to give Konexio students access to their first professional experience in France.
In addition to digital and code skills training, we organize workshops focused on soft skills. Soft skills training, which requires an intimate knowledge of social and cultural codes, are particularly important for our refugee students looking to integrate in France. These interpersonal skills, such as effective communication, teamwork and working in collaborative environments, self-confidence, time management, self-expression and making public presentations, are as important and necessary as digital skills training — both are needed for a streamlined integration not only into the job market, but into the social fabrics of their new host communities.
More about Konexio:
Konexio provides digital skills training and work placement for the most vulnerable, including refugee and migrant populations. With the opportunities presented by growing and unmet labor market demands in Europe for digitally-proficient/skilled individuals, our model focuses on training students in both hard and soft skills; we use innovative, tech-driven tools to deliver our computer skills training modules while tapping into our entrenched network of local and international partnerships to provide our students with access to professional and personal development workshops.
For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit
Revenue model: We have a mixed portfolio containing several different revenue streams. We receive funding on one end from philanthropic supporters and foundations, as well as government grants, donations from corporate partners. We are moving to increase self-financing options, which include revenue streams from projects carried out by our students in collaboration with tech companies that we source (part of which would go to the students and part of which would be re-invested back into their education), hiring fees paid by employers to recruit long-term from our pool of students and a freemium model of payment for the program.
Scale: Since our creation in November 2016, Konexio has welcomed more than 120 students through 16 promotions, received support from more than 100 volunteers who have donated more than 2000 hours of engagement, and developed more than 30 local and international partnerships in tech, government and the nonprofit sector. In terms of the target outcomes achieved by our students, of the Konexio alumni surveyed, 70% have gone on to find work, launch their own entrepreneurial projects, or continue their education, 94% continue to use the digital skills learned in our courses in both their professional and personal lives, and 94% reported feeling more socially included and connected to their local communities. In 2018, we won the Quick Pitch Prize at the Global Social Venture Competition, and are current finalists in two social innovation tournaments organized by the European Investment Bank and the European Commission.
Jean Guo’s bio:
Jean Guo is the CEO and co-founder of Konexio. She co founded Konexio based on her research as a Fulbright fellow investigating migrant policy at the Paris School of Economics, graduated from Stanford with dual degrees in economics and human biology, and worked as a strategy consultant before moving to Paris.
For both her and Binta, as children of immigrant families, they saw firsthand the challenges their families faced in navigating the social, cultural, educational, and professional challenges of settling in a new country.
Binta Jammeh’s bio:
Binta Jammeh is the COO and co-founder, Konexio. She’s a passionate advocate for global education and intercultural communication, with several years experience in education with vulnerable populations. She has worked with refugee communities in the United States, in early language education in Thailand, and more recently at a high-school in an at-risk community in the suburbs of Paris. Her dedication to helping migrants navigate the cultural and socioeconomic complexities of adapting to life in their new host countries lead her to co-founding Konexio.
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