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

Facts & Figures
Read more  
  • Location: Mostly Lebanon, some Egypt
  • Alfanar SE Since: 2016
  • Total Alfanar Grant: £88,732
  • Social Impact: 89 refugees employed as Conversation Partners and translators in the Arab World, 150 worldwide
  • Website
  • 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 forced into poverty. The sheer scale of the crisis means that many are unable to access employment to support themselves or their families.

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

The Organisation

Established in 2015 by two graduates of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, NaTakallam, meaning ‘we can speak’ in Arabic, uses online communication technology to pair Arabic-speaking refugees with Arabic learners worldwide for conversation practice purposes. NaTakallam provides students with an opportunity for language learning and clients with translation services whilst giving refugees the lifeline of dignified employment. Through NaKakallam, refugees secure a valuable source of income, thereby gaining stability, independence, and choice. 

Achievements with Alfanar's Support

To date, 89 refugee conversation partners have been employed through NaTakallam. As an organisation, they have served 8,893 individuals in over 126 different countries. NaTakallam conversation partners have delivered more than 112,646 hours of conversation sessions, and have generated more than US$1.5 million of revenue for themselves. Alfanar 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 

Back to Venture Philanthropy Portfolio.