DOT and Na’amal Announce Digital Livelihoods in Ethiopia in Partnership with the Conrad Hilton Foundation

April 18, 2023

The number of displaced persons has more than doubled in the last ten years alone, now there are more than 89.3 million displaced people around the world, and the tragedy doesn’t end there. According the the UNHCR Global Trends Report, forced displacement will exceed 100 million people as political conflicts intensify, and are further exacerbated due to the catastrophic impacts of climate change – there is a call to action to the world to address root causes, resolve conflicts  and deliver sustainable opportunities at scale to allow forcibly displaced people to live with dignity. 

There are things that can be done that embrace human dignity, socio-economic positivity and a connection of the desperate hopes of a refugee to the contribution that can be made to a livelihood in a new home.

Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) is pleased to announce, a partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, to support local refugees in Ethiopia with advanced ICT skills, self-empowerment, experiential learning for income generation, social cohesion and economic growth in the informal sector. Leveraging an ecosystem of partners from across the DOT network, including Na’amal, DOT Ethiopia and DOT Jordan, Digital Livelihoods in Ethiopia will equip refugees with the skills to access remote work in the digital economy. 

Exacerbated by the global events of the past 3 years, digital innovations are challenging and disrupting contemporary business models. Rapid digitization is changing the DNA of work at a pace and scale that exacerbates inequalities and widens the gap in the global marketplace. Serving as the centrepiece of operational efficiency, innovation, technology adoption and the future of work, Digital Transformation is creating more tech-based, and tech-enabled jobs – with that a greater demand for digitally skilled talent in formal and informal sectors. In an expanding gig economy there are doors opening for digitally fluent individuals to access income generation opportunities from anywhere in the world. 

While the positive trajectory of digital transformation is thrilling, DOT believes firmly that digital inclusion is about pairing digital infrastructure, digital literacy and other relevant skills with meaningful participation from those most at risk for being left behind. Digitalization continues to create gaps and barriers to access the digital economy for youth, women and other marginalized groups, often excluded from the formal employment sector; including those living away from global financial capitals, and those restricted such as refugees and migrants.

Ethiopia, the second-largest refugee hosting country in Africa, second only to Uganda, hosts 733,125 refugees and 53% are female. Urban refugees – particularly youth and women – still face multiple barriers to sustainable income generation opportunities in the formal sector. In order to cope, refugees in Ethiopia are turning to the informal sector and entrepreneurship through host communities licenses and contributing significantly to the Ethiopian economy. 

Sustainable, positive economic growth – through job creation and rebounding employment levels is a challenge for Ethiopia. The digital gig and freelance economy are tools that enable the absorption capacity of the labour market for the country. What must come first are the skills to master emerging technologies, access ICT-enabled jobs, and building the digital literacy, 21st-century remote work skills and self-confidence to harness opportunities in the informal sector. 

Poised to address Ethiopia’s biggest economic and social challenges, including poverty reduction, job creation, the refugee crisis, and digital transformation; DOT and it’s ecosystem of partners, enabled by the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation will equip local refugees to access the digital economy via remote work opportunities.

Barri Shorey, Senior Program Officer, Refugees at the Foundation, is excited:

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is excited to partner with DOT and Na’amal on this project to support the livelihoods of refugees. Matching Ethiopia’s growing economy with strong refugee entrepreneurship, increasing access to digital work presents an opportunity to test, learn, and develop solutions that enable refugees and their families to live dignified lives.”

Over 12 months, Digital Livelihoods in Ethiopia will welcome young refugees, position them as leaders of change building competencies needed for in-demand freelance and gig jobs; with a focus on advanced ICT skills. 

The collaboration brings together complementary experience and assets: DOT Jordan with its Advanced Digital Skills program, DOT Ethiopia with its local presence and confidence building curriculum critical to the effectiveness, application and livelihood creation of young people, and Na’amal with its Remote Work Readiness program, extensive network of employment partners for internship linkages, and employment coaching support. Together, the organizations will reach 30 refugees (18-35) located in Addis Ababa.

On the topic what this means for the refugee crisis, DOT Founder and CEO Janet Longmore said:

The reality is that we are living in a polycrisis world – and we must not be paralyzed by this reality. We must do something. DOT is proud to partner with Na’amal and the responsible support of the Conrad Hilton Foundation coming together to catalyze local actors, responding to the call to the international community to deliver sustainable, opportunities at scale, this is a model for doing more – for exploring how we might shift mindsets around the refugee crisis; questioning how we can welcome more into the digital economy through remote work; and testing the success of a proven model in new contexts for employment and livelihood creation for refugees in Ethiopia and beyond.”

Co-Founder and Executive Director of Na’amal, Lorraine Charles is equally enthused:

Na’amal is pleased to collaborate with DOT and the Hilton Foundation to provide refugees the skills to be successful remote workers and obtain stainable, dignified jobs. Digitalisation is generating new employment options, including ‘internet-based virtual work, on-demand work through online platforms, crowd working and other new forms of revenue-generating but unpaid work’. This has given rise to a fresh take on livelihoods. Unlike ever before, millions of people who were previously marginalised and excluded from the centres of global economic activity have the opportunity to receive an education and find work. The current potential for digital livelihoods for displaced people, including refugees, is immense.”

This is an opportunity to do more. We should all care about dignified livelihoods. With digital as an enabler, projects like Digital Livelihoods in Ethiopia shift mindsets through skills development and community network building, leading to impactful, long-lasting grassroots transformation at the individual, community and macro level. 

About Digital Opportunity Trust

Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization headquartered in Ottawa, Canada with a ‘footprint’ across 12 countries. DOT has locally managed offices in Africa, the Middle East; Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, and Lebanon and Jordan; Canada and the UK, and we operate in Ghana, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia through partner networks. A youth-led movement of daring social innovators who have the tools, knowledge, and networks to create opportunities and transform their own communities in Africa and the Middle East. DOT’s mission is to mobilize and inspire all underserved and disadvantaged young people with digital literacy, 21st-century skills and the self-confidence that will enable them to thrive in an inclusive digital economy. www.dotrust.org 

About Na’amal

Na’amal is an England and Wales registered social enterprise and Netherlands registered nonprofit that addresses the remote talent tech needs of companies by providing access to skilled refugee candidates. Na’amal provides refugees and other underrepresented communities training in marketable skills, with a focus on the human/soft skills, collaborating with organisations that train in digital skills, which are required in the global digital economy. We then link them to dignified digital remote work. https://naamal.org/ 

About Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

International hotelier Conrad N. Hilton established the grantmaking foundation that bears his name in 1944 to help people living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage worldwide. Today, the work continues, concentrating on efforts to ensure healthy early childhood development and sustainable livelihoods for youth, support young people transitioning out of foster care, improve access to housing and support services for people experiencing homelessness, identify solutions to safe water access, and lift the work of Catholic sisters. Additionally, following selection by an independent, international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to an organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. The Foundation is one of the world’s largest, with approximately $8.5 billion in assets. It has awarded grants to date totaling more than $2.4 billion, $339 million worldwide in 2021. Please visit www.hiltonfoundation.org for more information.

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