Social Bee

Zarah Bruhn (Germany)



THE HUMAN IMPACT: Five hundred thousand refugees are currently on the job market in Germany. Even after fleeing violence and arriving in a country, refugees then face visa and document issues, relationships and fear, which prevent companies from hiring them for permanent positions. People who have managed to undertake the dangerous migration to Europe have unique resilience, perspective, and skills – key assets for any workforce – yet there are few channels to bring them towards engaging work.

THE NUMBERS IMPACT: Founded in Munich, Social Bee startup has 50 employees under contract, with more than a dozen already successfully placed in permanent positions. Social Bee’s end of year goal is 100 employees placed, with a longer term goal of 1000 in the next three years.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Social Bee is Germany’s first integration service provider. It uses the temporary employment model to integrate refugees into the labor market and society, building a missing bridge between refugees and companies. Social Bee absorbs all the bureaucratic hurdles for companies, dealing with the challenging asylum/visa issues that often arise before a person can move seamlessly into work. It supports its employees by offering them an opportunity to acquire further qualifications and integration programs. Social Bee hires refugees and asylum-seekers to work for their organization as temp freelancers, and later transfers them to partner companies. Workers also receive socio-pedagogical support, language development and other training. In addition, they receive a regular salary from the startup company, which the founders intend to finance in the medium term through transfer fees, but is currently covered by charitable foundations.

WHO STARTED IT: Zarah Bruhn studied business administration at the university of Mannheim. During a semester abroad in Stockholm she took part in a refugees-welcome event. Realizing that it’s nice to welcome refugees but not really helpful or sustainable for them in terms of integration, she returned to Germany with an innovative business plan in her mind.

HOW HELLO EUROPE IS HELPING: Zarah is a newly elected Ashoka Fellow in Germany, and is utilizing Ashoka networks and expertise to guide her in fleshing out her idea and planning long-term scaling. Through Hello Europe she is connecting with other fellows working on employment for refugees as well.

WHAT THEY NEED NOW: Connections to interested partner companies in new countries, technical and strategic support for scaling and expansion, experts on work visas/permits in other countries and on an EU level, charitable foundation support and introductions.

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