As the world faces the worst refugee crisis since World War Two, a team of young social entrepreneurs have developed a free networking app that enables displaced people to start rebuilding their lives.
Sona Circle was created when three Aston MBA students entered a competition to develop a start-up enterprise which restored rights and opportunities to refugees.
Sona Circle builds a network which connects refugees in temporary camps, or those already resettled, with nearby employers, government agencies, and other refugees with similar backgrounds.
The app’s co-founder and CEO, Onaseye Onabolu, said, ‘The mission of Sona Circle is to empower refugees to share their skills and talents, to make those crucial social and professional networks and connections, to support their livelihoods and build a better future for themselves.’
The app will initially operate in Europe but has global ambitions and hopes to reach five million refugees by 2022. It is free on Apple IOS.
There are over 65 million refugees in the world, according to UNHCR, the equivalent size of the UK. Many live in temporary camps, often in neighbouring countries, waiting to be resettled.
For asylum seekers resettled in the UK, once granted refugee status they have 28 days to find employment and support themselves before financial help from the Home Office ends.
The largest independent refugee charity, The Refugee Council, published a report in 2014 showing the lack of support services to help refugees resettle, such as the Refugee Integration and Employment Service which ended in 2011 due to cuts from central government.
Words: Sid Hayns-Worthington