NaTakallam ("We Speak" in Arabic) is a social enterprise that connects refugees and displaced people to remote work opportunities in the language sector. All operations are carried out online where refugees reap the benefits of the virtual work environment while living in unstable conditions. With more than 80 million people currently displaced and 70% of them struggling to join the workforce, this model breaks down barriers and provides accessible opportunities to improve the refugees’ socio-economic situation through earning an income and promoting cross-cultural awareness. In addition to supporting refugees, NaTakallam hires local host community members. In some cases, they partner with local non-profits -- such as the aid organization SAWA in Lebanon -- to facilitate distribution of payments to employees. NaTakallam also works with Universities, such as Yale, Georgetown, and Columbia to provide lessons to students. After securing initial financial support through grants, fundraisers, and donations, NaTakallam has become self-sustained through generated income. NaTakallam has worked with organizations such as Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, and Ben & Jerry’s.
Theory of Change
Training and empowering refugees to provide language services online helps break poverty cycles and improves cross-cultural awareness and solidarity.
NaTakallam’s offers language services from tutors, teachers, translators & cultural exchange partners. This includes one-on-one tutoring to speaking to large organizations, which can all be done remotely with only a laptop or a phone. There are nine languages taught, including Arabic, Kurdish, French, Spanish, and since March 2022, Ukrainian and Russian. NaTakallam offers single one hour sessions, and 5 and 10 session packages. Usually provided through Zoom or WhatsApp, NaTakallam’s teaching prioritizes personalized learning, human connection, and cultural context. Essentially for all ages, NaTakallam works with K-12 schools and Universities, providing curricular or co-curricular programs.
Through NaTakallam, refugees have worked with more than 12,000 language learners. Virtual visits have been made to over 300 schools for language and cultural exchange sessions. Refugees have completed translation services for over 100 firms. Clients and students have gained affordable language services with native speakers alongside increased cultural awareness. Originally starting in Lebanon, refugees have now cumulatively earned $1.5 million USD in over 110 countries. 40% of workers pursue an education while using the income from NaTakallam to support themselves. Between March and April of 2020, there was a 100-150% increase in one-on-one language sessions. Additionally, 30% of workers have found further work opportunities through the NaTakallam network.