Cook4Chance: when Brussels start-ups unite for refugee integration
Wednesday, February 24, 2016 — BRUSSELS - When Meetsies, the platform where people can meet future friends by cooking and eating together, met Kiron - an NGO which helps refugees to access higher education - they immediately thought about bringing together the residents of Brussels and newly arriving people from different cultural backgrounds.
A few months later, this idea is now becoming a reality. The two start-ups are launching today the initiative Cook4Chance to help integrating refugees in society. With Cook4Chance, Meetsies and Kiron are bringing together residents of Brussels and refugees during private dinner parties, at home. They are launching today a call to Brussels residents to organize intercultural dinner parties to raise funding for refugees education.
Ségolène Martin, cofounder of Meetsies, explains “I personally wanted to find a way to do something for refugees but did not know what and how. When I met Kiron, I realized that Meetsies could play a role for refugee integration. With our project Cook4Chance, people will be able to organize Meetsies events, meet with people from different cultural horizons, and raise funding to support refugees education with Kiron.”
Kiron and Meetsies want to bring together Brussels residents and refugees, so they get an opportunity to meet and know each other. Any interested person can become a Meetsies host by posting an event on the Meetsies website www.meetsies.com (dinner party, board game night….). The host can ask all guests a small fee (this is in average 20/25€ for a dinner) and can give all or part of this fee to Kiron, to support a refugee in his/her studies. Interested people can book a seat online for an intercultural experience: guests can be friends, neighbors, refugees...
Juan David Mendieta from Kiron explains “Many people contact us asking how they can support refugees. Kiron just set-up a Code School to allow refugees to become web programmers and have found out that refugees are confronted to the lack of infrastructure and study material. This is why the funds raised through Meetsies Cook4Chance dinner hosts will be used to purchase basic hardware for the Belgium-based refugees to pursue their online education. Each time we will be able to raise 400€, a refugee will get a computer and start studying.”
Nader, the first Syrian student who just started the Code School, explains : "We currently have nothing so this partnership between Meetsies and Kiron means more than a chance to us. It means hope."
Some dinners are already available on the Meetsies platform. People who want to organize dinners can just login on www.meetsies.com/kiron
+32 (0) 483 32 85 14
Meet your future friends at a home party
Have you ever felt lost when walking through Place du Luxemburg on a Thursday evening? The thing is that, in a big city such Brussels, we are all surrounded by plenty of people but it is not always easy to meet real friends. The three young professionals – Nik Subramanian, Ségolène Martin, Peter Heremans - who started Meetsies mid 2015 were themselves looking for a way to meet new people.
Ségolène, cofounder of Meetsies, explains: “Of course, I like going to parties and chitchat with many people, but I also want to get to know people for real, and speak with them otherwise than 5 minutes in a crowded bar. For me, meeting with a couple of people at home around common interests in the best way to get to know each other ….in a non-superficial way!”
The Meetsies platform, which you can access by going to www.meetsies.com, gives the possibility to organize or attend a dinner party, games nights, or even single evenings. Anybody can become the host of an evening.
Since the start of Meetsies, more than 200 home parties have taken place in Brussels, gathering more than 1200 people.
Zoë King, an Australian expat, has now joined the team. She explains : “We simply bring together people who live in the same commune or work in the same street but have never had the opportunity to meet before. Many people start by becoming a guest, and then enjoy themselves so much that they want to host their own event. The people who join Meetsies are open minded people who want a new experience and expand their social horizons.”
How it works
As a host:
- You define a few days in advance what you want to do, you define your price, and you announce it on www.meetsies.com ;
- Your guests pay on the website and present themselves on the D-Day.
As a guest:
- You check out on www.meetsies.com what is foreseen and you book on the website;
- You present yourself on the D-Day, meet new people, and have fun.
Meetsies hosts are in many communes of Brussels and beyond: Ixelles, Uccle, Bruxelles, Schaerbeek, Woluwé-Saint-Pierre, Saint-Gilles, Molenbeek, Hoeilaart, Grimbergen.
Meetsies also launched in Dublin 3 weeks ago.
Kiron University is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation (gGmbH), whose mission is to remove the barriers for displaced people to access higher education. The students will complete the first two years online and the third year at one of our partner universities. The degrees that we offer are accredited thanks to cooperation with partner universities. By virtue of this concept, refugees can (i) study without legal documents, (ii) do not have to pay student fees, (iii) an enrolment capacity to accommodate all interested students, and (iv) opportunities for language courses.
Kiron started in Germany and extended in other countries (Belgium in 2015). Throughout Europe, Kiron counts 1250 students.
The two years of online studies are enabled through Massive Open Online Courses and Small Private Online Courses (MOOCs & SPOCs). These courses originate from world-class universities like Harvard, Stanford, MIT and Yale, which are already openly accessible to everyone in the cloud through providers like edX, Coursera, Udacity and iversity. We collaborate with these providers, take their open source online courses, and combine them with the latest e-learning technology to create study modules. Our partner universities count the credits of these online courses and give the students the opportunity to accomplish their last year on-site at the local campus.
The new Belgian CodeSchool
Kiron CodeSchool provides professional training in software development and ensures that these acquired skills lead to employability. This initiative can not just be understood as an answers to the lack of Software developers and concrete needs in our current labour market but also as a mean of integrating refugees into society and bringing them directly into employment.
After a one year of training students will be offered internships in IT companies which are partnering with Kiron CodesSchool. After submitting an application the refugees will pass a training program consisting of 3 phases (4 months study, 4 month project, 2 months internship). The first 5 students started to study with Kiron CodeSchool in mid February 2016.