Natakallam provides employment to refugees through the online economy as Arabic-language conversation partners and translators.  

Facts & Figures
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  • Location: Mostly Lebanon, some Egypt
  • Alfanar Investee Since: 2016
  • Total Alfanar Investment: £59,193
  • Social Impact: 54 Syrian refugees employed as Conversation Partners and translators
  • SDGs:

The Challenge

The Syrian conflict has triggered the worst refugee crisis since World War II, with an estimated 13.5 million Syrians having fled their homes since 2011. Many of these refugees have lost all their assets as a result of the conflict, and due to limited funding from the UNHCR and other charities, many of those displaced have been forced to live in poverty. This is primarily because the sheer scale of the crisis has meant that many have been unable to access employment to support themselves or their families.

This is especially true in Lebanon, where 1 in 4 people are a refugee. However, due to regulation put in place by the Lebanese government, most are barred from working within Lebanon. Employment through the internet economy allows for flexibility around this barrier.

The Organisation

Established in 2015 by two graduates of Colombia’s School of International and Public Affairs, NaTakallam, meaning ‘we can speak’ in Arabic, leverages online communication technology to pair Arabic-speaking refugees, mainly based in Lebanon, with Arabic learners worldwide for conversation practice purposes. Providing not just an opportunity for language learning, but a direct link for clients with the Syrian conflict, NaTakallam’s programme has raised awareness of the impact of the refugee crisis. Through NaKakallam, refugees secure a valuable source of income, thereby gaining stability, independence and choice. 

Achievements with Alfanar's Support

To date, 54 Syrian conversation partners have been employed through NaTakallam.  As an organization, they have served 2,182 individuals across 65 different countries (with the majority coming from the US). NaTakallam conversation partners have delivered more than 22,000 hours of conversation sessions, and have generated more than US$803,880 of revenue for themselves. Alfanar’s investment has also supported NaTakallam in the ongoing development of a new digital platform.

My NaTakallam sessions are helping me practice listening comprehension and speaking in colloquial Arabic - which makes me very happy. But even more importantly I have the chance to  connect with a brave person who is starting life over again because of the war. It helps me understand the human impact of the Syrian conflict in a real way.

Hannah Evans, 50, Toronto, USA 

Alfanar's Investment: Looking Ahead

Alfanar is working to digitise Natakallam’s matching capability in order to enhance the efficiency of its service.