GLOBAL • TECHNOLOGY
OCTOBER 22, 2019
“Migration is an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future. It is part of the social fabric, part of our very make-up as a human family” Ban Ki-Moon, Former Secretary General of UN.
Migration is one of the key challenges of our time. It is a phenomenon rising across the world. An estimated 272 million people (over 3% of the world population) are living outside their home country, according to a recent UN Report. While some have moved voluntarily, others have been forced to leave.
The migration topic is wide. In this article, we will focus on the question of mobility skills, because building the right framework and policies to enable the movement of people is primordial for a sustainable economy and social wellbeing of the world’s population.
The relevance of this topic was even further highlighted by the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), which made mobility skills one of its priorities. In the words of the Secretary General of IOE, Roberto Suarez-Santos, “Well managed migration is a positive force of change. It is not just a vehicle for fulfilling personal aspirations, but a critical tool also for balancing labor supply and demand, for sparking innovation, creativeness (many migrant workers are entrepreneurs) and for transferring and spreading skills.”
Indeed, technology and entrepreneurship might have a key role to play in fostering innovative solutions both for the integration of migrants in the workplace in their host countries, as well as for the facilitation of access to information for the government in order to build appropriate policies.
In partnership with IOE, we are launching an open call for startups that offer promising solutions to promote mobility skills, due to migration tech gaining importance in the coming years. So, how exactly can technology ventures improve conditions for migrant workers? And how can technology be used positively to bridge the gap between the integration of migrants in the labor and economic markets?
Here are some ideas:
Financial apps, platforms and services can facilitate and lower the cost for migrants to receive, manage and transfer money. Access to banking and payment services is one of the most important needs for social integration, economic growth and safety (as opposed to cash, which is usually connected with informality and insecurity). Mobile technology can also support remittances, one of the most important income sources for many migrants families. Considering that the average cost of remittances is estimated at 7% of the transferred amount, FinTech might be the opportunity to reach the 3% target of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
For example, MFS Africa, a startup founded by Dare Okoudjou, which recently managed to raise its series B, is already facilitating remittances between over 170 million of mobile money users within most of the African continent.
MyCashOnline, founded by Medehi Hasan originally from Bangladesh, won Seedstars World Malaysia in 2016 for its inclusive online marketplace for unbanked migrants. Through the MyCash platform, migrant workers can top up their mobile phones, pay utility bills, purchase e-commerce products, bus tickets, air tickets and gift vouchers. In Bangladesh, remittances contribute to more than 10% of the total GDP of the country.
The team of MyCash Online dedicates its time to build a Fintech platform to better serve the community of migrants in the Philippines and Malaysia.
Digital identity solutions can disrupt and facilitate the lives of migrant workers in different ways. For example, the startup JUVO has established financial identities for billions of people worldwide, including a certain percentage of migrants, who are creditworthy, yet financially excluded. It can also help reduce fraud, streamline processes and operative costs for public and private sectors.
However, identity goes beyond the question of owning an official identity card (over 1 billion people do not have basic ID). Oftentimes, further requirements such as birth certificates, criminal records, driving licenses are requested to be granted access to some basic services such as opening a bank account, getting a mobile phone number and subscription, signing a lease, registering a business, enrolling into a university or accessing health services. For people living in developed countries who are rarely traveling or moving, it may sound like a simple formality but even for a Swiss or a US citizen, the adventure abroad can quickly become overly complicated because of the lack of a simple paper, a typing mistake between two formal documents or the loss of one of official documents, not to mention the cost associated with their renewing or re-issuing.
To a large extent, our identity is also defined by our education, from academic background to gained skills and work experience. The question of diploma recognition is another important challenge for migrants. Some startups have been developing innovative solutions, such as Accredible who created a badge and certificate systems enabling organizations to award their students with accredited proof of acquired skills.
Identity is also related to our “health identity” (such as our blood type, vaccinations, allergies, chronic diseases), which can have a direct impact on migrants' lives in certain situations. Solutions such as Minhealth, a blockchain-powered platform that empowers patients to manage their health information and records, are an interesting way to rethink the transfer of patient data and better coordinate healthcare mobility and access.
While digital identity is presenting great opportunities, there are risks to consider in relation to data collection and management. Technology ensuring data protection and privacy are at the core of this matter and, in general, another important area for innovation (encryption, tokenization, authentication, etc). Blockchain is one of the technologies expected to revolutionize data authenticity and security as it becoming more commonly used across industries.
Companies developing smart algorithms to support the analysis of large and complex datasets could support different decision processes, such as visa attribution.
Here’s a story to present the case. Berat Kjamili had to move from Macedonia to Turkey. He is a migrant, but also an entrepreneur. He founded a startup called Migport, a knowledge-sharing platform where migrants (essentially refugees) can get answers and support with daily questions and problems, such as education, financial or bureaucratic barriers. Thanks to the data gathered, the platform is able to aggregate information that can help to better predict the needs of newcomers. The startup is also working with the Turkish government to assist with their registration system (you can find more info on the podcast of Startup Without Borders here).
Talking about mobility skills implies talking about education, especially on the question of academic skills recognition within the topic of identity. E-learning platforms such as Coursera and EdX often provide migrants with low-cost and remote learning opportunities, so to improve the migrants’ curriculum or set of skills and consequently be able to access better opportunities on the labor market. Mobile apps for learning languages can also help migrants to improve the command of the spoken language of their country.
Platforms such as Blended, winner of the global Seedstars Summit 2019, facilitate the communication between teachers and parents and are also useful for the integration of migrant children. Parents can better follow what is going on at school and have a better understanding of the curriculum. It would be particularly interesting for those platforms to integrate instantaneous translation since parents don't always speak the language of the host country.
Moreover, education has a great role in preventing the forced movement of people due to a lack of opportunities in home countries. Supposedly, with the rise of remote work, more and more people with the required skills and internet access will be able to work from their origin city without having to move.
This is actually a trend that we increasingly see in Latin America with developers working from Peru, Mexico, Guatemala or Venezuela for companies in the US. Following the vision of fostering job opportunities, Platzi, a Latin e-learning platform, provides 1,000 scholarship for Venezuelan learners living in Venezuela in order to support them to access educational courses, considering that in the current context of the Bolivar hyperinflation, even $1 a day is an investment that most of the locals cannot afford.
Establishing programs to teach entrepreneurial skills and help young local talents to run a business is another high impact initiative to prevent forced movement of talent. As an example, Seedstars is currently working with the Ivory Coast government to train youth with the skills needed to successfully launch and manage new businesses.
Startups and mentors from the Seedstars Academy program in Ivory Coast.
The scope of solutions to foster skills mobility and improve migrant workers’ integration is wide:
Fostering migrant workers’ integration and ability to enhance their conditions with technology is a multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional approach. This article just presented some ideas and examples, but there are definitely more options to explore.
Finally, it is to bear in mind that technology is a tool, not a solution. Technology can certainly bring a lot of positive outcomes to the challenges of mobility skills. But it can also add complexity and new risks if not well planned.
Seedstars is proud to partner up with IOE to give exposure to startups that have solutions with the potential to promote mobility skills through products that bridge the information gaps in global migration systems with a specific focus on Latin America and Africa.
The solutions should assist with better matching employment sectors facing skills shortages with trained regular migrants - expats, temporary workers, seasonal workers, intra-company transferees. The solutions should also provide ways for governments to share information and best practices to improve their policies. Finally, they should provide migrant workers with access to financial, educational, labor mobility services.
If you have a startup and think you have what it takes, apply through this link by 25 October.
We would strongly appreciate receiving any recommendations of tech ventures that could fit the needs per email. For this purpose, please contact our Challenge Leader Yanira at [email protected]
ASIA • ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES
Can Green Startups in Asia Help Mitigate Climate Change?
The Metronome, the famous Manhattan digital clock in Union Square, started the countdown to the next climate disaster.
AFRICA • ECOSYSTEM ENABLER
Designing Virtual Learning Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Africa [Q&A]
If we say that COVID-19 has changed the world, it would be an understatement. COVID-19 disrupted our world.
AFRICA • EDUCATION & CONSULTING
Can Vocational Training Help the African Economy Soar to New Heights?
When the time comes to make career choices, modern young people suddenly find themselves in a seismically active world, where rock-solid paradigms are cracking, new normals are forming, and opportunities are flowing like lava.
GLOBAL • INVESTMENT
5 Simple Mistakes Start-ups Can Avoid When Measuring KPIs
Despite some fantastic ideas, brilliant products and passionate owners, it’s a sad fact that most start-ups never make it to their third year.
GLOBAL • ECOSYSTEM ENABLER
New Seedstars Index: Efficient Tool for Data-Driven Decision Making
The Seedstars Index (SSI) has been fully reworked for the 2020 edition with the aim of achieving a higher quality predictive indicator for the success of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Why SSI is a powerful tool for data-driven decision making:
AFRICA • OTHER
Bridging the Gap: How to Prepare Younger Generations to the Future of Work
Access without quality undermines investments in the sector and yields limited gains. Ivory Coast, and the continent more broadly, has witnessed an increase of the school attendance rates
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE • URBAN DEVELOPMENT
How Switzerland Won Its Title of the Country of Innovation
What makes Switzerland unique? How did the country manage to become the global leader in innovation?
GLOBAL • HR
Being a Better Leader: 5 Skills Founders Have to Learn to Survive Their First Year
It's not all doom and gloom. Founders have to realize that setting up a business is hard, but also that most challenges can be surpassed if tackled with the right mindset and skills.
GLOBAL • URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Civic Tech: Building More Transparent Societies in Developing Countries
Our society is at a tipping point. Consequently, there is an urgent need for developing sustainable economic and social solutions for change. This is where transparency comes in.
AFRICA • FINANCIAL SERVICES
Future bright as african tech startup funding grows
Africa has long lagged behind the rest of the world when it comes to investment, even in the continent’s most exciting tech areas.
AFRICA • AGRICULTURE
Agritech in Africa: Paving The Way For a New Era in Farming
Imagine a drone flying 100 metres over a section of Nigerian farmland, taking infrared pictures that will then tell the farmer if his crops are suffering from a disease – up to 10 days before the damage is visible to the naked eye.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA • TECHNOLOGY
Overview of the Entrepreneurial Landscape in MENA by Omar Christidis, CEO of Arabnet [Interview]
Recently, we had a chance to talk to Omar Christidis, CEO of Arabnet
ASIA • ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES
Fighting Trash: How Myanmar Is Tackling the Waste Problem in the Country?
At the forefront of the Myanmar waste discussion, the historic nation grapples with managing unwanted products like plastic and food
GLOBAL • TECHNOLOGY
Migrant Workers: Four Ideas On How Technology Can Support Skills Mobility
In this article, we will focus on the question of mobility skills, because building the right framework and policies to enable the movement of people is primordial for a sustainable economy and social wellbeing of the world’s population.
AFRICA • TECHNOLOGY
Key Ways to Shape Africa's Tech Startup Sector: Media Perspective
Heyl has also taken an undisclosed share in the company, which was founded in 2010 by the late media entrepreneur Matthew Buckland, who passed away in April.
AFRICA • GOVERNMENT
Delivering Public Services Through Technology and Entrepreneurship
The delivery of public services such as healthcare, education, sanitation and criminal justice, is a key task for any government.
GLOBAL • PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
What Is a Password Manager, and Why Does Your Startup Need One
When you’re running a startup, it goes without saying that you’ve got a lot on your plate: managing your team, updating all your social media channels, responding to user feedback. The list goes on.
GLOBAL • FINANCIAL SERVICES
Fintech and the Future of Your Money
At the intersection of finance and technology lies a phenomenon that has been reshaping the world of money. The rise of the internet has brought about a high degree of disruption to almost all industries and financial services are no exception.
GLOBAL • HEALTHCARE
Digital Health: A Solution to Growing Problems in Healthcare
The Healthtech industry spans a broad number of sub-sectors: hospitals and practitioners; insurance companies; consumer-facing services; pharmaceuticals; and government – to name a few.
LATIN AMERICA • INVESTMENT
Chile — the Leading LATAM Startup Ecosystem
Known for its numerous breathtaking landscapes, wineries, and abundance of copper, Chile is a country that has so much more to offer.
GLOBAL • TECHNOLOGY
Proven Methodologies for Delivering an Interactive Workshop in the Tech Industry
Hosting a workshop at a conference or an event can be strenuous
GLOBAL • ENTERPRISE
How To Make The Most Out Of A Networking Event
Although some entrepreneurs out there attribute their success to luck, savvy startups know that real business opportunity is created through hard work and consistently showing up in the right place at the right time.
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE • FINANCIAL SERVICES
The FinTech Stars Journey: An Insight on the Three-Month Acceleration Program
Have you ever been to Astana? You would be surprised. Sky-high glass buildings, newly built smart quarters with entrances by a fingerprint scan, huge Expo area - firstly, a venue for the biggest Exposition “Future of Energy”