Stepup.One, Re-skills Refugees, and Connect them to Opportunities that Pay
Elizabeth Okwach
December 8, 2020

‘We need access to education whilst at the camp, we need access to opportunity. In a time when goods and capital move freely, humans are locked up in camps for years.’ These were the words of Mohammed Hassan Mohamud, Co-Chair World Economic Forum in 2019 and a refugee in Kakuma Camp.

The Somalia-born has been confined in the camp for more than twenty years. He had no passport, no birth certificate, no opportunities, no hope.

In his brief speech, Mohammed illuminated the need for a redefinition of the purpose of refugee camps and a reframing of global conceptions of displaced people; Mohammed said it was high time that refugees should be seen as partners in development efforts, rather than a burden to society.

According to Mohammed, in refugee camps, there are people with talents who given a chance, can perform. He called for the abolishment of the handout model; Mohammed advocated for empowerment for self-sustenance.

This brief intervention inspired the 2019 genesis of StepUp.One; an organization dedicated to reskilling people living in refugee camps and connecting them to opportunities that pay.  

Founder Mohamed Anis and his team decided that the most achievable and globally employable skill to teach StepUp.One Graduates is social media marketing. This skillset empowers graduates to make a social media impact for professionals, businesses, and organizations regardless of size, location, audience or ambition. 

StepUp.One connected with the United Nations Human Rights Council to initiate a pilot program featuring five students living in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp. They partnered with Hootsuite to provide world-class products and had access to the best toolkits and training. The pilot continues to be a success and demonstrates the efficacy of the StepUp.One model and training. All five graduates have maintained and expanded employment for two years and are taking on mentoring roles to provide future students with on-ground support.

Over the past two years, StepUp.One graduates have created a social media impact for their clients by:

  • building B2B sales pipelines using LinkedIn,
  • building B2C brand awareness using Facebook and Twitter
  • helping build individual thought leaders on specified hashtags
  • delivering visual stories using videos.

For Ryan, one of StepUp.One clients has hailed refugees for their exemplary work on his social media platforms. Today, he not only boast of over 500+ connections, but also he is ranked highly on the platform.

“It was the concept that blew me away as soon as I heard about but within minutes they made me realize that they are trying to deliver value and not asking me to be charitable. It has been 16 months since I started my journey with Stepup.One and I cannot begin to list the number of ways in which their work has impacted my life. First my boss started asking me how I became suddenly so much active on the social media, for someone who has never tweeted, I now not only have a relevant 500+ followers but if you search #businessrelationships or #B2Brelationships I am on top of the twitter search. We also started working on LinkedIn, be it connecting with the right target audience, messaging with my thought leadership …. Bahana has simply made a huge difference to my social media world” Ryan – Head of professional services vertical EMEA & APAC, Introhive

StepUp.One is now at 20 refugees in the Kakuma Refugee Camp with an aspiration to train and find employment for 500 graduates by Dec 2021. They just started their pilot of 15 at Kutupalong Refugee Camp. Their plan is to then expand the program Daadab in Kenya, Bidi Bidi in Uganda, Jabalia in Gaza, Zaatani in Jordan, Yida in South Sudan, Pugnido in Ethiopia, Panian in Pakistan, Nyarugusu and Kalumba in Tanzania. To do so, StepUp.One is hoping to partner with additional software organizations for access to programs and training, ethical and media organizations for exposure and recognition, and most importantly new clients.

Employers of StepUp.One graduates will be part of the reframing of the way the world views displaced peoples and approaches the refugee crisis. Graduates are highly skilled and ready to provide exceptional service to their clients and have the ongoing support of technical and marketing experts. All they want is the opportunity to contribute to society and support themselves – all they need is a step up!

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