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08/06/2020 News

Helping Refugees Enter the Workforce Alongside Nonprofit Kodiko

In France, refugees are, in theory, authorized to work. But in practice, it’s difficult for someone who doesn’t necessarily have a strong command of the language, is unfamiliar with the country’s world of work, and doesn't have a professional network to draw on. To help these people enter the workforce, nonprofit Kodiko has set up a corporate mentoring program that pairs each refugee with an employee. Total Foundation provides financial as well as human support to the initiative, with Group employees getting involved through the Action! program.

Money, Time and Commitment

In 2019, Total Foundation helped fund two cycles of Kodiko’s initiative – representing more than 90 refugees – in and around Paris. In addition, 18 Group employees in the area were able to contribute on a personal level thanks to the Action! program, through which Total staff can devote three days per year of their working time to volunteer with partner nonprofits. 

Blandine, who has worked in Human Resources at Total for 25 years, jumped at the opportunity to get involved, and took part in a training day to learn how to go about it. Then, once a fortnight for the next six months, she met up with Abdulsamad on Total premises for two-hour sessions going over his skills and professional aspirations, helping him learn more about the employment market in France, sharing knowledge about the corporate world and supporting him in his job hunt.

On Saturday mornings between November 2019 and March 2020, a number of employees also volunteered at writing workshops held at Paris’ Institut du Monde Arabe to help refugees with their written and spoken French, with a focus on topical issues and social and professional integration.

The Kodiko team organized an event on May 22, 2019 at Société Générale for employees to discuss their experiences. Five people from Total shared their stories, approaches and observations. Group employees were also able to talk about their time spent volunteering for the program at a closing evening held at the Maison de la Poésie.

Tangible Results

At the three-month, six-month and one-year marks, Kodiko measures the concrete progress made and skills acquired by the refugees taking part. In 2019, 70% of the program’s beneficiaries had found a job, internship or a skills-qualification training course after 12 months. Abdulsamad, for example, has accepted a temporary role as a delivery driver for Chronopost.

Since these results are a gauge of the program’s success, Total Foundation has launched and funded a project to redesign Kodiko’s impact analysis tool, in partnership with agency PHARE. From 2020 onward, the tool will integrate new benchmarks and data collection processes to give a better understanding of the difference the program makes for the various stakeholders (refugees, employee volunteers and companies). 

Kodiko and Covid-19

The economic and social crisis brought on by Covid-19 has hindered many of the Kodiko beneficiaries’ plans. To make up for the lack of face-to-face meetings, refugees in the program have been provided with some 100 computers and 4G dongles: ten from nonprofit Break Poverty and 90 from Simplon, a school offering training courses in digital technology for people with limited access to employment. Thanks to this initiative, the refugees have been able to keep in touch with their partner volunteers and remain alert to any professional opportunities.