Match is an online service for helping refugees create their first CV suitable for Finnish job market. The information is shared safely with Startup Refugees volunteers, which can then efficiently search through a profile database to match refugees with potential Finnish employers, startups or other professional opportunities.
Mustafa, Camilla & the Startup Refugees team are on a mission to realize the immense human potential of refugees in Finland, most of which is now wasted on just waiting for a decision.
Startup Refugees is a non-profit voluntary network supporting refugees with employment and entrepreneurship. It has created a low-cost model for fast-track employment and entrepreneurship for refugees.
Instead of the wait and bickering, Startup Refugees is actively searching for the potential of newcomers and matching it with relevant network members.
Photo: Miikka Pirinen
Initial workshops with Startup Refugees helped identify the main needs: a proper profile database and search for the office volunteers to do matchmaking, a way to generate cv's in pdf format from existing profiles and a way for refugees to enter their own profiles, without needing volunteer visits to do it. On top of this, the security of the system was a top priority, as this was highly sensitive data we were dealing with.
We then created design prototypes and further iterated with Startup Refugees to better nail down some of the details. We tested data entry forms with refugees and learned what could be improved there. We were then ready for development.
The first part of development was done in spring 2017 by Haaga Helia students via a course collaboration, under our guidance. After the end of the course, we continued the work through summer and autumn, taking it to production level. Data migrations and especially security needs put extra pressure on the initial schedule, causing delays. However we pulled through and now have launched a set of tools that are top notch security and user experience.
A second course collaboration with Haaga Helia contributed to Match in autumn 2017, with specific features and needed improvements. At the time of this writing we are doing final reviewing and testing of the students' work, before integrating it into the live solution.
Futurice continued the students' work, adding missing features and improving code quality, stability and security. The first live version of Match, with most of the core functionality, was taken into use in spring 2018. After that, the rest of the core features were done, together with more improvements to code quality and stability. Since the end of summer 2018, a core-feature-complete Match has been in use by Startup Refugees.
The biggest impact of Match has been improving the core team's flow and productivity. Matching profiles to opportunities is done now in a matter of minutes, where before it was a tedious process of browsing through various Excel files and trying to make sense of the data recorded in them. Time and energy can be spent on the actual match-making instead of fighting the tools.
The Match service being now publicly evailable, any refugee from Finland can use it to create their work profile and share it safely with Startup Refugees. By the end of 2018, about 100 profiles out of 2900 had been created independently without volunteer help. This was lower than expected, due to two reasons: 1. language obstacles (good English required) and 2. the social value of data collection events.
The social value of data collection events is something that we as Futurice truly understood only after Match was already in use. Startup Refugees did want Match to be accessible by everyone, but despite this the data collection events remained super important to their work. The events have allowed building trust, empathy and connection between refugees and volunteers. This part stayed the same before and after Match; what Match brought here was not reducing the need for the events, but making the collected data more consistent and reliable.
In early 2019, Startup Refugees has received funding for further improving Match. The plan is to first adapt Match to allow other organisations in Finland to take into use, then work to take it to other European countries, to be used by similar organisations as Startup Refugees.