A new project initiated by Swansea’s Centre for African Entrepreneurship (CAE) aims to help Swansea-based refugees from all ethnic backgrounds find jobs or start their own businesses.
The project, titled Refugee Women Empowerment, aims to help 60 women refugees into employment in the coming two years. Supported by the European Social Fund through Welsh Government and managed through WCVA’s Active Inclusion scheme, it is led by respected job coach Saskia Volders, who has been helping people find work for 11 years.
Refugee Women Empowerment is open to female refugees aged 25 or older who are long term unemployed. It will provide individually tailored support to help with the whole job seeking process, including searching for jobs, networking, connecting with potential employers, writing CVs and job applications, and preparing for interviews – including Zoom interviews.
Women who want to start their own businesses will receive help accessing various forms of support and advice, from loans to government support. They will also get help writing business plans and preparing for other hurdles such as interviews to secure investment.
The project reflects the wider aims of the CAE, which provides entrepreneurship and employment support to people living in the Swansea area, helping to tackle problems of inequality and poverty within ethnic minority communities through empowerment.
Located on Swansea’s High Street, the centre carries out a range of initiatives, including offering bespoke support to specific target groups such as the unemployed, young BAME people with business ideas or startups and young refugees/asylum seekers.
By enlisting the help of Saskia, the CAE will empower refugee women to build new lives in which they are able to support themselves and their families and contribute to the local economy, often putting to use the significant skills and experience they already have, but have been unable to find an outlet for since arriving in the UK.
“These women often have training and business experience they are keen to put to good use but have been prevented from finding work or starting businesses in the UK due to issues such as linguistic barriers or unfamiliarity with the processes for applying for jobs or starting a new business,” says Saskia. “A bit of support and guidance can make all the difference, building confidence and opening up the route to employment and entrepreneurship. I’m very much looking forward to helping each woman access whatever help and resources she needs in order to move forward.”
In leading the provision, Saskia will draw on her CIPD (Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development) qualification, experience in human resources and long experience helping people through practical coaching in CV and application writing, and teaching job interview techniques.
“Very often people come to me feeling that they are ‘doing something wrong’; empowering them through coaching makes the significant difference they were searching for,” she says. “English is not my first language, so I understand some of the challenges that can come with seeking work in a new country and I have a heightened awareness of cultural habits and norms, which can prove useful when helping people from outside the UK find employment.”
Yolanda Barnes of The CAE added:
“We’re proud to welcome Saskia and to launch Refugee Women Empowerment, which we believe will make a huge difference to the lives of refugee women living in Swansea, many of whom who are keen to find employment or start their own businesses but lack the support and guidance they need in order to achieve this. Established in July 2015, The CAE has expanded its vision and mission from being an African Centered Organisation, to enable it to meet the rising needs of all ethnic minority communities within and around Swansea, and this project is an important part of fulfilling that aim.”