Refugees get online portfolio
Website Conectados (Connected) has on display over 160 services provided by 115 immigrants in vulnerable situation. The idea is to encourage entrepreneurship among them.
São Paulo – The website Conectados (Connected), a project that aims to facilitate the integration of refugees in the Brazilian society with a kind of online classifieds section, went online last week. Developed by the NGOs Bela Rua and Conexão Cultural, both from São Paulo, the website already has 115 immigrants with posts, and new requests keep on coming.
Conectados was one of the winners of Vai Tec, a program organized by the São Paulo Development Agency (AdeSampa) to support financially innovative activities linked to information technology and communications. According to Juliana Barsi, CEO of Bela Rua and one of the project’s creators, the goal is to encourage entrepreneurship among the immigrants in a vulnerable situation – they avoid the term refugee, seen as prejudice by these immigrants;
“Asylum is a temporary condition of an immigrant that came to the country in search of something bigger. The website tries to help them find this path,” explains Barsi. She says that upon winning the bidding process of São Paulo city hall, the creators of Conectados received BRL 27,000 (USD 8,602) to program, develop and draw the website, a kind of an immigrants’ online portfolio.
In the website conectados.cc, the services offered are divided in sections such as dance, cuisine, classes, crafts, painting, music, fashion and lectures. If the users are interested, for instance, in receiving drumming or dance classes from Syrian Hassan Ali, they can click on the button “Eu Quero!” (I Want!) and his contact information will be shown. The same for those interested in ordering typical Moroccan food from Mustpha Doumali or the fashion design, sewing or tailoring services from Syrian Antesaar Mousa.
There are more than 160 services offered by 115 registered immigrants – but this number tends to grow. “The most popular categories are cuisine and language classes. We heard from some registered immigrants that they got very positive results, with contacts made through the website in the first week,” she says.
According to Barsi, the refugees were selected with the help of organizations that promote the integration of these immigrants into Brazilian society. And some of these immigrants reached the website through the suggestion of some supporters of the project. Currently, those interested in registering can contact the staff team of the website and tell a little of their story and the services offered.
All the process is free of charge to both the immigrants and the ones interested in paying for their services. So much so that website does not intermediate the contact: it’s done directly between them. It’s also for this reason that the CEO is not able to tell the number of deals made – but says that in one single day, in the first week, the website had 1,000 visitors.
Barsi says that now the staff will keep working on the website as volunteers for one year, while they will try to enter new public tenders to receive funds for the next step: to develop training courses to these immigrants. “We noticed that many of them already have some sense of entrepreneurship, but the majority needs specialization training. And that’s what we want to offer, entrepreneurship, photo, language classes, among others, to help the immigrants,” she concludes.
*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani