Project name: Natakallam
Type: Social enterprise
Refugee investment category: R3
SDGs addressed: 8, 10
Headquarters regions: New York, NY, USA
Sector: Education & Translation Services
Summary: Established in 2015 by two graduates of Colombia’s School of International and Public Affairs, Natakallam leverages online communication technology to pair Arabic-speaking refugees, mainly based in Lebanon, with Arabic learners worldwide. The platform caters to students in need of affordable and flexible Arabic practice and direct access to native speakers on the one hand, while providing displaced individuals with a source of income, marketable skills, and enriching work opportunity on the other – in an effort to combat the workforce restrictions and language barriers faced in their host country. NaTakallam has established several university partnerships, including Tufts, Duke, NYU, and George Washington University, with over 3500 individual users.
Potential refugee impact: By providing refugees and displaced persons with income, training, and more marketable skills NaTakallam helps to break down existing misperceptions, language barriers and workforce restrictions facing these communities. In addition, the company also provides translation and interpretation services to corporate clients including the International Rescue Committee and the Danish Refugee Council. To date more than 110 displaced persons from 13 countries have earned over $300,000 through translations jobs, language practice, or cultural exchange opportunities.
Investment thesis: NaTakallam's well developed partnership with global leaders in higher education are a testament to the quality of their services and a consistent source of revenue for the company. By connecting refugees in Lebanon with clients around the world, NaTakallam is able to empower refugees who would not be able to access these employment outcomes on their own.