R2 Social Ltd.
Tackling the global refugee crisis and tech-talent shortage by training and connecting idle talent to the world.
Pitch us on your solution
More than 70 million people are displaced worldwide. Among them are bright individuals with the potential to become great assets to society. R2 Social exists to ensure that their talents are nurtured, not wasted.
We use tech training and incubation to tackle the two crucial global problems of refugee crisis and tech-talent shortage. Partnering with world-renowned learning institutes, we recruit, screen, and train high-potential refugees in leading edge technologies like blockchain, AI, and machine learning. We then outsource them remotely as full-time developers to companies globally. We also incubate and provide mentorship to tech-startups with the criteria that they either work with or provide solutions to refugees.
Scaled globally, our training and outsourcing model would create tens of thousands of jobs for refugees, allowing them to provide for their families and communities. Scaling our incubation model would also yield more startups, exponential jobs, and life-changing solutions for countless people.
What is the problem you are solving?
R2 Social aims to simultaneously tackle the global refugee crisis and tech-talent shortage.
Globally, we are facing the highest record of displacement in history
with more than 70 million refugees. Alone in Uganda, where we plan to launch
our pilot program, there is approximately 1.4 million refugees. Deliberate
efforts are needed to create education and employment opportunities so that
they can be self-sustainable, and regain their dignity and livelihood. However, lack of resources, low availability
of jobs, and other employment barriers within their host countries make it
difficult for them to become more than idle talent.
According to Korn Ferry, by 2020, there will be a predicted shortage of
1.2 million skilled workers globally in the technology, media, and
telecommunications (TMT) industries.
Who are you serving?
R2 Social is created by refugees for refugees, as two-thirds of our founders
were refugees. To be community-driven and inclusive, we also include youths
from low-income backgrounds from the host country. These two groups have
intelligent and talented individuals, who are held back by limited
opportunities for advanced skills training and mentorship. As a result, they
are either left jobless, dependent on financial support, or work in physically
laborious roles with menial pay. In order to ensure their upward social
mobility, we will equip them with digital knowledge, mentorship, and
Specifically, we work with members of these groups who have at least a
high school education, high analytical skills, and English fluency. The ideal
age is from 21 to 35. Intentional effort would be taken to ensure a gender
Our program allows them to gain the tech and professional skills they need to be self-sustainable, earn competitive wages, and provide for their families and communities. We also connect them to mentors, and provide financial and business support for high-growth entrepreneurial ideas. There is no limit to what they can do or who they can be with the tech skills and resources we provide.
What is your solution?
Our solution to tackle the global refugee crisis and tech-talent shortage is to provide high-potential refugees with tech training, incubation, and employment opportunities. By doing so, we are taking idle talent and creating a technologically advanced workforce of the future. We are also fostering entrepreneurship that will bring forth more jobs and innovative solutions to impact lives.
We focus on tech training and incubation, because technical skillsets are extremely valuable in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. Coupled with a growing global shortage of tech talents, training refugees to be tech-developers ensures that they will have higher chances to obtain work and competitive pay. Additionally, providing financial resources and mentorship empowers them to use their new-found skills to be entrepreneurial and solve world challenges. The result is they will become self-sustainable and go on to advance their communities, host countries, and the world.
Training and Outsourcing
Goal: Help refugees regain their hope and dignity, and become self-sustainable by outsourcing their tech talent to places that need it, be it inside or outside of the host country.
Step 1: We work with local refugee host organizations to identify areas with high refugee talent to set up computer labs for learning and working. We then recruit and screen high-potential refugees and a portion of marginalized youths from the host country. They must pass analytical and language assessments to join us.
Step 2: We offer them a stipend for learning, and tech and professional trainings given by our internationally renowned partners. Training will comprise of two tracks—a basic one in software development, and an advanced one in blockchain, data analytics, AI/machine learning, etc.—lasting six months to one year.
Step 3: Post-training, they will officially start their jobs as tech developers employed by us and contracted on a team or project remotely with our hiring partners.
Goal: Foster entrepreneurs and startups to succeed and be intentional about creating social impact, building inclusive communities, and helping the displaced population.
Step 1: Identify and select entrepreneurs and start-ups with high-growth ideas and potentials in fintech, foodtech, and health tech.
Step 2: Give them the criteria that their businesses must either provide employment opportunities for refugees and marginalized youths, or use their technology to solve issues for refugee communities.
Step 3: Fund them with seed money, mentorship, and workshops in return for equity. Help them to achieve growth.
Select only the most relevant.
Where is your solution team headquartered?Hong Kong SAR
Our solution's stage of development:
Select one of the below:
New business model or process
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
Our solution is innovative because we focus on the training of new and
disruptive technologies. We train in blockchain, AI, and machine learning, to
turn idle talents into a technologically advanced workforce of the future. The
knowledge that we equip these refugees with will also lead them to come up with their
own innovative solutions for the problems that they face.
Additionally, our approach to creating social impact for refugees is different from normal ones. The traditional approach to helping the displaced population is through non-profit models or programs. We, however, chose a for-profit model in order to be self-sustainable and independent. Instead of helping refugees as part of a CSR program, we are making it our core business. Normal companies might allocate a portion of their resources to helping or hiring refugees. We allocate our entire resources into training and creating jobs for refugees.
Describe the core technology that your solution utilizes.
Training & Outsourcing
Our trainings are in technologies that include software development, blockchain, AI, and machine learning.
We place an emphasis on selecting entrepreneurs and startups with innovative approaches in the fields of fintech, food tech, and health tech.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
Please note that we aim to launch our pilot project at the end of 2019, and will start serving people then.
Training & Outsourcing
First year: We will be training and providing job-placement directly for a cohort of 40 refugees for our pilot program.
In five years' time: We aim to scale our program to include 2,000 refugees.
Indirectly though, we are enabling them to impact even more lives than the number given above as they become self-sustainable and provide for their families and communities.
First year: We plan to incubate four startups as part of our pilot program.
In five years' time: We aim to incubate 50 startups.
Please note that the number of people served through our incubation model can only be measured post-completion, and would vary depending on how many people these companies hire and their technology serves.
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
First Year Barriers
Recruitment Barrier: We need to recruit refugees who are trainable in technology. So, not only must they have an interest in technology, they must also have the capabilities to learn it. They should have at least a high school education, and high analytical and English language skills. It might be difficult to find the right number of refugees who meet these qualifications at the beginning.
Hiring Barrier: We need hiring partners to make our program a success. Without hiring partners, even when fully equipped with tech knowledge, our refugees could be left jobless. Hiring barriers could be brought on by cultural and communication differences. For example, companies might be unwilling to work with developers who are working remotely from a completely different cultural background. They might assume that there will be communication barriers and different working styles. Without a track record to prove the quality of our developers, it is hard to gain the trust of hiring companies.
Financial Barrier: As we begin, there is no previous track record that we can show to potential investors. It can be difficult to persuade investors to trust us and our cause enough to fund us.
Probably will include some of the barriers listed above plus:
Scaling Barrier: Like any other startup, we have to find ways to scale our programs. We have to hire the right people to join our management team. We also have to ensure robust operations and strong network of partners to expand.
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
First Year Barriers
Recruitment Barrier: We will partner up with local refugee hosts to identify and recruit the right caliber of refugee talent. In Uganda, where we plan to launch our pilot program at the end of 2019, we have already managed to secure a partnership with the Community Development Center. They will help us identify and recruit the talent in the section of the Rhino Settlement Camp that has refugees who have already received a high school education and even some tech training.
Hiring Barrier: We will network aggressively to get hiring partners to be on board. We will also hold Hackathons to showcase the quality of our trained refugee developers. We currently are in the midst of talks with Upwardly Global in the US to help us do professional and cultural etiquette training for our refugees to ensure that they can properly communicate with international teams and clients.
Financial Barrier: We plan to apply for grants and seek funding from angel investors within our personal networks.
Scaling Barrier: After the first year, we will have a track record and able to get hiring partners and investors easier. We will also work to get more advisors and mentors to guide us in scaling.
Select an option below:
How many people work on your solution team?
Our current team consists of three co-founders. We plan to launch in Kampala, Uganda towards the end of 2019. At that point, we will have a team of seven to ten people on the ground, including project managers, trainers, admin and support.
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
Since October, 2018.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
UNESCO- To explore opportunities and challenges of AI in Africa, such as through their Forum on AI in Africa.
Microsoft- Technology Partner. Provides us with access to their tech training content and partners network.
Community Development Center- Our refugee host in Uganda. Helps us to connect, identify, and recruit the right refugee candidates for our tech training within the Rhino Settlement Camp.
What is your business model?
Training & Outsourcing
We recruit, screen, and train high-potential refugees and turn them into top-notch tech developers. The refugees are hired by us and are then outsourced to companies globally. We charge those companies for the project and work that they need. In this sense, we operate like any traditional tech outsourcing company, only we train in new technologies and are focused on refugees.
We select and provide startups with seed money and mentorship in exchange for equity.
Why are you applying to Solve?
Beyond receiving the grant prize(s), Solve is a valuable platform for us to expand our network, raise awareness, and gain support for our mission of solving the global refugee crisis and tech talent shortage.
As two-thirds of our founders were refugees, we understand the social stigma and biases that refugees face. We need people to understand that being a refugee is a circumstance not an identity. It should not define or limit what someone can become and achieve. While we have every confidence that we can turn our refugee recruits into top-notch tech developers, we need people to believe in their capabilities and willing to invest in and give them jobs post-training.
We need the right mentors, investors, and hiring partners to be successful. Therefore, we need to widen our network to draw attention to our mission and raise awareness for the refugee community. We hope that access to Solve’s community would allow us to meet like-minded individuals and organizations who could work with us to achieve our mission.
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
We are looking for infrastructure and hiring partners.
Infrastructure Partners: Large organizations and institutions who would be able to support us in terms of grants, setting up our training centers, and connecting us to like-minded individuals to serve as mentors.
Gates Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, USAID, Mastercard Foundation, and similarly structured ones would make excellent partners for us.
Hiring Partners: Large corporations to small companies who are willing to hire our refugee tech developers remotely.
If you would like to apply for the Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.
R2 Social is a tech start-up incubator, created by (former) refugees for refugees. Our goal is to create opportunities for refugees to regain their dignity, be self-sustaining, gain upward social mobility, and become assets to their host country and the world.
The prize would be used to set up a training center with electricity, laptops, and other equipment needed for technology and digital learning. The amount of $50,000USD would be enough for a learning space for approximately 20 people at the Rhino Settlement Camp in Uganda, where we plan to launch our pilot program at the end of 2019.