Expat startup project in South Korea helps Yemeni asylum seekers realise potential

Published:  25 Jun at 6 PM
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Tagged: Canada, Ireland, Jobs, Euro
An expat project in Seoul is aiming to help asylum seekers achieve their potential according to their professional skills.

In 2018, the numbers of refugees across the world peaked at 70 million, according to statistics released by the UN Refugee Agency. Many have much-needed skills, professional qualifications and years of experience, but are being confined to manual labour due to their stateless status. One expat start-up entrepreneur living and working in Seoul, South Korea, is determined to stop the waste of human talent by finding ways to ensure that refugees with skill sets and experience can develop their careers even although they’re asylum seekers.

Craig LaTouche’s mission is to help asylum seekers to get meaningful jobs enabling them to restart and develop their careers. His Jobfindr website was launched in 2016 and is now in need of seed-funding, with its online platform aimed at providing expats in the greater Seoul region with entry-level jobs suitable for their talents. Formerly from Ireland and having liven in Seoul for a decade, LaTouche also runs Connector, a website encouraging job seekers to meet with employers in an informal manner.

LaTouche’s latest development is his HireChance project, aimed at refugees from war-torn Yemen who’ve arrived in Korea. The project began with a phone call two years ago from a Korean national with contacts in the Yemeni asylum seeker community in Korea. The caller asked LaTouche to help a refugee skilled in foreign languages and public admin meet up with human resources people from several companies. Soon, the entrepreneur was to realise how tricky it is for a Yemeni asylum seeker to get a job in Korea due to controversies and social conflict. As a result, Yemeni computer programmers, dentists and those who’d worked for multinationals were unable to find suitable employment in Korea and are now working on farms or in factories.

As a result, HireChance is now about to become a new company selling Yemeni coffee, one of the region’s signature projects, as well as coffee from Columbia and other coffee-growing regions. A percentage of the profits will go to online education courses as well as other initiatives allowing asylum seekers to hone their skills in order to build successful careers. LaTouche is viewing empowerment of the refugees as the main focus of the initiative, with the resulting change of Korean perception of Yemeni refugees and their acceptance as talented members of society as a further benefit.
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