Startup HackYourFuture Gives Hope to Refugees in Limbo

By Akudo McGee 5 Min Read

Since 2015, the world has been experiencing what has been called a refugee "crisis" with the largest forced migrations seen across the world since the Second World War. While it’s easy to think of the "burden" of housing, transporting and integrating refugees and asylum seekers, such a mindset often forget the most vulnerable element in this equation, the refugees or asylum seekers themselves.

There’s so much resting on their shoulders. Besides the traumatic experience of fleeing their homeland and often subsequent violence, they experience first hand the fact that their arrival in their potential host country is not the end of their journey. Upon arrival, refugees are often faced with huge obstacles, not the least of which are a language barrier, long wait times for the processing of asylum applications and putting the pieces of their lives back together.

For those whose refugee status is not yet recognized or those who have a waiting time before they are placed in housing, the waiting game can be torturous. Besides the stress of wondering where you will end up or if your claim will be approved, imagine sitting there stagnant, a gap in employment and work training would also mean that, if everything goes "right" you may still find yourself unable to obtain gainful employment.

Today’s startup, HackYourFuture hopes to turn stagnation into creativity by turning refugees into software developers. How does it work? HackYourFuture recruits volunteer code masters to train talented refugees. The services are provided free of charge, teach refugees to code in modern JavaScript and no coding background is needed.

They are hoping that at the end of their 6-month program, students will be able to secure their first software development job. Their 35 senior developers developed the program in such a way that it would suit the needs of vulnerable groups like refugees. While JavaScript is the core language that HackYourFuture teachers, they also teach HTML, CSS, Node, Angular, Express and Databasing in MySQL/MongoDB. In addition, students are taught to think like programmers and work on their problem-solving skills.

Through networking their team assists graduates with finding a job. Part of the course is basic coding but another part of their course is teaching students how to work on different projects that are relevant to the modern tech scene. This way they not only have the hard skills needed for the job they will be applying to but they also have the skills and experience of working on similar projects to those they may be working on later. Where can you find them? Amsterdam of course!

They meet every Sunday in person, however, during the week they coach and offer support to their students online. Courses are supplemented with business visits, masterclasses (from tech experts and other special guests) and individual career coaching.

Within the current group of refugees there is a lot of talent. However, the past teaches us that talented newcomers have trouble finding work in their new countries of residence. At the same time, we see a very large demand on the job market for web-developers. A lot of companies struggle to grow because of the lack of qualified developers. Here we see an enormous opportunity for a win-win situation. By training refugees in web-development we increase their chances of employment significantly, and at the same time, we increase the number of developers on the job market.

Motivated refugees are invited to apply, however, some stipulations do apply. In order to participate, students need to have an intermediate level of English and be able to study for approximately 25 hours a week. Applicants from all over the Netherlands are accepted and transportation costs are covered by the startup.

They’re accepting new applicants and applications can be completed online. The selection process begins every two months and they also have branches in Malmö (Sweden) and Copenhagen (Denmark).

Startups like HackYourFuture and Refugee Code Academy (which we talked about in a previous article about an education startup are just two of many examples of startups for good. The invaluable contributions of everyday citizens, specialists, and entrepreneurs towards integration methods for refugees are proof that while it may be difficult to help others rebuild their lives in a new country, it’s far from impossible when we all chip in.

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