Aline Sara, CEO and co-founder of NaTakallam, United States of America
2021 WE Empower Awardee, Europe and North America
Bridging communities and advocating for refugees and displaced people is at the heart of NaTakallam, an online platform that provides language services such as tutoring, translation and virtual interpretation services. What makes this platform unique is that the services are provided by refugees and their host communities, producing stable economic income and long-term skills. This transformative platform revolutionizes language services and works to change some perceptions of refugees being a burden on society to being an essential asset.
Aline Sara and NaTakallam
In the early 80’s, Aline Sara’s family immigrated to New York from Beirut so that they could safely raise their children and have the chance to restart their lives. Starting her academic journey, Sara delved into psychology and philosophy before traveling to Beirut as a journalist where she saw firsthand the devastating consequences of uprisings and civil wars. These experiences led her to continue her studies by completing her masters in international affairs where after she established NaTakallam. The dire situations in developing countries leave many people with little hope, yet NaTakallam opens up an online platform where languages, skills and community connection is fostered.
Dignity, prosperity and international opportunities
The opportunities that NaTakallam provides to people around the globe foster SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) through “hiring refugees as online language partners, teachers, and translators, refugees obtain a restored sense of dignity and purpose, income, and marketable skills that often help them in their later search for work.” This online platform allows refugees to gain skills while also increasing their income; quite often refugees are ignored as an asset to society, yet NaTakallam opens the door to an untapped market of unique skills and experiences. The quality of the team in alignment with their mission and goals provides marginalized communities with the opportunity of decent work that can earn them around $1,500 USD per month, which is twice the minimum wage in Egypt, Turkey and Lebanon.
Beyond stereotypes Into industry advancement
Avoiding traditional ways of thinking about refugees, the idea that they must be helped, NaTakallam’s innovative nature revolutionizes this mindset by helping others to see refugees as instructors, translators and tutors. However, in further supporting SDG 8 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), NaTakallam sees that “full-time employment is not the only path forward and that freelance digital opportunities can be beneficial”. The skills learned along with freelance opportunities creates a digital marketplace where people from around the world come together to create a new innovative industry.
The global web of success
In order to achieve such a vast network of unique peoples from across the globe there must be partnerships between a variety of groups. NaTakallam works with more than 200 educational institutions, NGOs, corporations and foundations which help to strengthen operations, finances, recruiting and other essential functions . Being strongly committed to SDG 17 (Partnerships to Achieve the Goals), NaTakallam “coordinates cross-sectional efforts to achieve long lasting and sustainable impact.” Such an entrepreneurial adventure cannot be successful without pledging to this goal as these partnerships are essential in fostering the growth and success of individuals around the world.
Coming together as entrepreneurial changemakers whose backgrounds vary from one continent to the other creates a partnership for attaining the UN Sustainable Development Goals that will foster global peace and prosperity. Individually one is strong, but united a force of revolutionary change.
The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge is a first of its kind global competition for women entrepreneurs who are pushing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and leading innovation in sustainability and climate change through their businesses. This Contributing Series highlights finalists of the Challenge whose work demonstrates how business models and social entrepreneurship can drive global impact.
By Ella Schneider