DIVERSIFYING INNOVATION: TEL AVIV-YAFO LAUNCHES CODING PROGRAM FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS
Tel Aviv-Yafo, November 24 – Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality’s The Platform and PresenTense will launch an “Introduction to Coding” training program for asylum seekers in the city following the successful conclusion of a pilot course.
The coding and entrepreneurship course for asylum seekers, which seeks to advance employment opportunities for one of the city’s most at-risk population groups, is an initiative launched by The Platform, a municipal entrepreneurship center located in Tel Aviv’s Neve Shaanan neighborhood, and PresenTense funded by Citi Foundation.
The program is organized in close partnership with the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC), a non-profit founded in 2004 by asylum seekers and Israeli citizens to empower African refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers.
The “Introduction to Coding” course will provide basic coding and entrepreneurial skills to asylum seekers who wish to pursue future studies in the field and a new career path. The course forms part of the "Made in Tel Aviv" program by PresenTense and Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, and includes a series of educational courses to accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation in disadvantaged areas of south Tel Aviv.
Participants of the ten-week pilot course were introduced to Python programming and other basic coding skills. Each participant was paired with a mentor with significant coding experience, offering one-on-one guidance and personal assistance to support their hi-tech studies.
The pilot welcomed a total of 10 students, who were selected from a pool of over 50 applicants following a basic computer and logic skills test, and an interview. All 10 students completed the course successfully and expressed interest in pursuing advanced-level coding programs in future.
Shana Krakowski, director of The Platform: “We are incredibly proud to have hosted this course here at The Platform in Neve Shaanan, opening doors of opportunities to marginalized communities. Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality believes that technology has the power to be a great equalizer and that diversity drives innovation. The dedication of the students in the course exceeded our expectations, with students never missing a class and improving their skills in such a short time. We hope this will be the first of many.”
The pilot course welcomed students with little-to-no computing skills and were expertly guided by Ismail Kharoub, a self-taught coder and successful entrepreneur from Jaffa who was able to teach participants in Arabic, Hebrew and English.
While some students hope that the course will represent their first step toward a hi-tech career, others ultimately hope to start their own businesses utilizing their technology skills for building websites or their own applications. Others aim to transfer their newly acquired knowledge to their respective communities, thereby narrowing digital divides and expanding sought-after opportunities to enter a hi-tech industry that has remained resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fisseha Tsegai Tesfamichael, an asylum seeker from Eritrea and graduate of the course: “My hope for the future is to teach young people from my community and share with them what I know and have experienced. I want to give whatever little I have to marginalized communities – I can understand their difficulties. The journey of life is short, so let's make the world better together.”
Due to Health Ministry restrictions to tackle COVID-19, lessons were held both in-person and online during the 10-week pilot course.
Khouloud Ayuti, co-CEO of PresenTense: “Our goal at PresenTense is to identify existing gaps and address them by making the ‘Startup Nation’ accessible. There are many socially-marginalized communities that don’t take part in the thriving tech and entrepreneurship ecosystem. We are grateful to have had this opportunity to bring the employment possibilities of the 21st century to the asylum seekers and migrant workers in Tel Aviv-Yafo and look forward to our continued joint work.”
Photos can be found here (credit appears in caption): https://bit.ly/2IEQeU8
About The Platform
The Platform - Urban Entrepreneurship Center in Neve Shaanan was established by Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality in 2017 to promote and develop local entrepreneurship and innovative solutions to social challenges. The center, operated by Tel Aviv Global & Tourism, seeks to drive local innovation to improve the quality of life of all residents - Israeli and foreign nationals alike - in Neve Shaanan and surrounding neighborhoods.
The Platform supports the development of initiatives of local residents from the “bottom up” by providing tools and training and creating a network of social and urban entrepreneurs. The Platform also focuses on bridging technology gaps by providing training and courses in technology and digital skills.
PresenTense is Israel's leading entrepreneurship school operating for over a decade to promote an inclusive society in which diverse communities are equally represented in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. To date we've led 120 entrepreneurship programs that launched 850 ventures, 60% of which are active to date that raised over $285,000,000 and created over 8,000 jobs.
The Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach deploys the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation.
Head of International Press
Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality