mamo pracuj team

Welcoming enterprises to the Refugee Employment Initiative in Poland and Romania

The NESsT Refugee Employment Initiative supports fifteen impact-driven enterprises in Central and Eastern Europe providing long-term employment opportunities to refugees, in particular those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Launched mid-2022, the Refugee Employment Initiative is a partnership between NESsT, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship, and the Cisco Foundation. We’re now pleased to welcome the first six social enterprises to the initiative to continue building upon important aid efforts in the region. 

Supporting long-term stability  

The war in Ukraine triggered Europe's largest refugee crisis since World War II. Millions of refugees from Ukraine have sought safety in Poland and Romania since the war began. To move beyond the immediate humanitarian needs of refugees, the Refugee Employment Initiative supports enterprises focused on empowering refugees – including those coming from Ukraine – with the tools and resources needed to rebuild their lives. This includes career training and job opportunities, and additional support services such as mental health support, language classes, and childcare. 

“The Refugee Employment Initiative was born as an emergency response after the war broke out, with the vision to provide access to quality employment resources to refugees and migrants, regardless of their nationality,” said Nicole Etchart, Co-founder and Co-CEO of NESsT. “Since launching the initiative last year, we have welcomed six companies into our portfolio, with more in the pipeline. Before joining our portfolio, these six companies had already helped hundreds of refugees find quality jobs, and we're thrilled to provide them with the capital and business services to amplify this to thousands.” 

Together, these six companies aim to create jobs for over a thousand refugees over the next five years.  

Enabling refugees in Ukraine to survive and thrive  

The Being Together Foundation is a Polish social enterprise focused on four key business areas: laundry, catering and bistro, carpentry, and training. Each function trains, employs, and reintegrates people from excluded groups into the labour market by creating individual paths of professional re-adaptation. In the next five years, The Being Together Foundation plans to train and place 250 refugees. 

Box Elyte is a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) based in Romania that manufactures premium, eco-friendly cardboard boxes for chocolates and pastries. Box Elyte creates decent working conditions for its employees, with a focus on full-time employment contracts and additional employee support such as English classes and basic computer skills. 

Mamo Pracuj is a Polish social enterprise that helps women, especially mothers, to access high-growth careers. Since the start of the war, Mamo Pracuj has supported nearly 2,000 Ukrainian women refugees to rebuild their lives, helping them find quality employment opportunities through its digital recruiting platform for women –  

Nebucode is a software development company in Poland that creates innovative digital solutions for SMEs and corporations. With support from the Refugee Employment Initiative, Nebucode is launching the NebuLab:Starters platform, a training platform that teaches IT skills and development, with a focus on placing graduates from vulnerable backgrounds — including refugees and migrants — in jobs in the digital sector. 

Tango is a Polish enterprise that builds digital products for scaling startups, corporations, and mid-sized companies. Tango has applied diversity, equity, and inclusion principles to its own hiring as well as its supply chain. As it scales over the next five years, Tango plans to hire at least 60 refugees internally, and train and place an additional 270 refugees in employment.  

UtilDeco is one of the largest work integration social enterprises in Romania, known for its diverse operations in archiving, production of textile protection equipment, coffee roasting, and digital printing. With more than 55% of their workforce consisting of individuals with disabilities, UtilDeco is committed to promoting social inclusion and providing comprehensive socio-professional integration services.

Partnering for impact 

“With the invasion ongoing in Ukraine for over a year now, refugees remain one of the most marginalised and vulnerable communities within the region,” said Åsa Skogström Feldt, Managing Director, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship. “Through the Refugee Employment Initiative, and our partnership with NESsT and the Cisco Foundation focusing on positive social impact, we’re continuing to invest in long-term livelihoods and community in a region facing incredible disruption.” 

“Together, these six companies — with their deep industry expertise, willingness to donate time and resources, and knowledge of local economies and communities — are working to make invaluable, lasting differences for the refugee communities in Poland and Romania,” said Charu Adesnik, Executive Director, Cisco Foundation. “We’re proud to continue deepening our work together for the Refugee Employment Initiative and to expand the number of individuals impacted.” 

The Refugee Employment Initiative will continue to build on the foundations that supports refugees in the Central Eastern European region.