immipact: Impact Immigrants

Carlos Miranda Levy • 14 March 2017
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A capacity building and startup matching platform to empower immigrants as productive members in the innovation ecosystem and sectors of the society they expect to join.

Immigrants, refugees, they are survivors who have lost or have been forced to renounce their physical possessions and ways of life. Yet the one thing no one can take from them is their potential to become productive members of any society, adding value and making it better with their integration. By arriving to our borders, despite all odds, they have already shown tremendous resilience and determination.

But often their determination and their potential is ignored, relegated and flattened by conventional assistance programs, bureaucratic processes, restrictions and extended delays and prolonged wait time with limited activity choices

This is amplified by the fact that often the skill set they bring with is not compatible or relevant to the plans and visions of growth of the nation where they're coming to..

What if we acknowledge and build upon these determination and initial skill set they all bring, and turn the waiting time in centers and camps into an empowering capacity building program in the areas of innovation that will fuel our nation's growth and future? What if instead of wasting 6-24 months of their lives limited by immigration processes and in detention centers, they use this time to learn disruptive technologies that will enable them to join the fast moving, innovation startups and sectors of our economy. What if by the time they are allowed in with legal status, they also graduate as mobile apps and software developers, DIY designers and makers, providing fresh affordable labor for the innovation and disrupptive startup sectors.

This way, they would no longer be looking at menial low income jobs or be displacing the existing members of our society who depend on those jobs. Instead, they would be providing a fresh input of a limited, highly sought, expensive resource required by our disruptive and innovative startups and sectors. They could even create some of those startups and job opportunities. 

We must embrace immigrants, but we must integrate them so that they not only pull their weight, but add value and fit our development and innovation goals for growth.

The human challenge of an increased flow of immigrants

  • Increasing flow of immigrants to developed territories.
  • Their skill set is not relevant or compatible with our society's expectations, opportunities and goals.
  • Volunteers flock to survivor camps to do work that does not make use of their skills.
  • Immigrants spend months in camps, before being granted entry.
  • Training in camps is hard as one never knows if they will return for a second class.
  • Once immigrants are allowed into society, they face limited opportunities and direction.

Solution: Flipping the problem into resources of impact

  • An open platform with a diverse crowdsourced collection of self-contained lessons that can be completed in 15-90 min and taught by anyone, with visual elements, in digital, printable and interactive formats with instructions for learners and trainers.
  • Content would go beyond conventional topics to areas of strategic interest to our society. From social norms to disruptive areas of innovation where opportunities continue to rise (see curriculum below).
  • 3-12 month certification programs can be completed while in camp or even continued outside camps once entry is awarded.
  • Access to the innovative startup ecosystem, for employment opportunities, inspiration and even partnerships.
  • Access to seed innovation capital for starting new ideas.
  • A platform bringing together all of the above and serving as an interactive exchange space for all stakeholders of the ecosystem, with support information, updates, contacts and guides.

Click here to know more about the
project's platforms, methodologies and frameworks


Immipact is a Civil Innovation Lab initiative, based on our team's 20 years of developing social innovation and impact technology initiatives, field experience with refugees and survivors in Haiti, Japan and Nepal and our successful workshops in Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia.

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