ADDENDUM: One day after this blog post was published, there was a prominent visitor at our accelerator. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with ReDI School of Digital Integration to learn more about their program. Great choice Mark, they deserve any support!
ReDI School of Digital Integration launched its first two coding program courses for refugees last Sunday, February 21. ReDI (short for Readiness and Digital Integration) is a non-profit startup aiming to tackle two ambitious challenges at once: The growing refugee crisis and the lack of qualified IT personnel on the German job market. The social startup is a member of our current accelerator cycle Program8.
Getting Things Started
During the ReDI onboarding event a few Sundays ago, students, teachers and mentors got to know each other at the accelerator. ReDIs aim is to provide students with free, high quality IT training and the chance to join the startup and digital industry as software developers and testers. ReDI equips the students with laptops, workstations in co-working spaces and access to technical mentors to work in project groups. The program starts with more than forty students. Most students are originally from Syria, but Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Tunisia and Lesotho are also represented.
ReDI has developed a mentoring program, biweekly tech talks and workshops to connect students to people in the Berlin tech community and to leaders in the field of IT and tech.
“We are convinced it’s not only what you know, but who you know if you want to start a new career. That is why networking and community building are core principles at ReDI.” Anne Kjaer Riechert, co-founder of ReDI
The demand for IT professionals in Germany is huge. According to the German IT industry association Bitkom there are unfilled IT positions in Germany alone. Since communication in English is the norm for most IT departments, language will not be a problem when ReDI’s graduates take up their first jobs.
First Financial Support
ReDI is not a VC case and will not be seeking any seed-investment from investors after the program. However they are still dependent on external capital to finance the school and its operations. ReDI have teamed up with Klöckner & Co SE, a pioneer in the digitization of the steel industry. Kloeckner will be the main sponsor of the first two courses.
"The integration of refugees into our society is very important to us. This includes a professional perspective for example, in the high growth digital economy. Also, we are increasing our headcount in this area enormously and hope that in the future, new posts will also be filled with graduates of ReDI School. " Gisbert Rühl, Chairman of Klöckner & Co
Accelerating Social Entrepreneurship
ReDI School of Digital Integration is part of Program8 in our early-stage startup accelerator in Berlin. We have not accepted many social businesses into our accelerator. They like any other startup have to persuade us of their determination and impact. ReDI’s team is passionate and extremely focused. While immediate crisis relief is receiving a lot of attention in Germany, long-term integration efforts remain underfunded and are often explored too late. We believe ReDI will have a meaningful impact on their students but also the social and political climate in Germany. They are not a solutions built for refugees. They are built and continuously shaped by a communal effort of different people from different places who want to turn the current crisis narrative into a narrative about opportunity and growth.
"We are pleased that an increasing number of entrepreneurs address the political and humanitarian challenges of our time with digital solutions and try to solve them sustainably. Following the success of ShareTheMeal we are proud to have another social business in our program –especially since ReDI deals with such a crucial issue as the rapid integration of displaced people. We support ReDI with our knowhow, mentors and broad network and wish to accelerate their founding experience and success within our program and beyond.” Joerg Rheinboldt, CEO Axel Springer Plug and Play