Meet a MAP Member – Jumpstart

Jumpstart Refugee Talent

Interview with Masa Kateb, Manager of Projects: May 29, 2020

  • Where is the agency located and how long has it been in existence? Who are the clients?

Jumpstart Refugee Talent is a refugee led non-profit organization. It was founded in 2016, when the influx of Syrian refugees first started arriving. The organization focuses on the economic empowerment of newly settled refugees and refugee claimants in Canada by connecting them to meaningful employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Jumpstart began in Toronto as an organization focused on supporting Syrian newcomers and has since grown to encompass refugees from all backgrounds within its scope, operating from Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. Being the only national organization exclusively serving refugees and refugee claimants seeking meaningful employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. In fact they are only one of a handful of similar organizations worldwide.

Many other organizations exist to serve all newcomers, so it was decided to focus solely on refugees from an economic lens as they are especially vulnerable.

  • What is the organization’s purpose?

Jumpstart Refugee Talent exists to address underemployment. They have worked with all kinds of refugees who are extremely skilled and talented yet face systemic barriers to finding meaningful employment and access to entrepreneurial capital in their field. Jumpstart also believes that Canadian society and the economy can benefit greatly by leveraging their skills to best use, rather than having refugees start their careers all over again.

In addition to that, businesses can harness the ingenuity, perseverance, and cross-cultural thinking that refugees can offer, helping them to better innovate and compete in global markets.

  • What resources or services does the organization provide specifically for refugee claimants?

All of Jumpstart Refugee Talent programs are open equally to refugees including refugee claimants. They do not believe any refugee should lack access to programs as a result of their refugee status. Jumpstart delivers programs in a variety of focus areas, all related to economic empowerment. Some examples include:

  • Training in coding and programming for youth
  • Entrepreneurship training for women
  • System navigation, job placement, and mentorship programs for skilled professionals
  • Career readiness training for all

Given the focus on economic empowerment, Jumpstart does not offer language training, but rather refers clients who need language support to established settlement agency partners, while focusing on mentorship and professional language development through different training programs.

  • What is an example of a success you’ve had through your work with refugee claimants?

To date, over 300 of jumpstart Refugee Talent clients have secured meaningful employment with an average yearly income of $48K and/or enrolled in post-secondary education or another employment training program and mentorship. Over 20% of the 300 were refugee claimants in Canada who are also part of our proud social return of investment metric: for every $1 invested in Jumpstart Refugee Talent mission and vision, Canadian economy receives $4.6 back in tax savings and contributions.

Jumpstart has also helped connect over 100 refugee claimants with senior level Canadian professionals through the Welcome Talent Canada mentorship program, in order to help them expand their networks and accelerate their ability to secure meaningful employment.

Knowing that 85% of jobs are filled through personal connections, and with a Canadian culture of networking, it takes a Canadian on average 4 – 6 months to find meaningful work, while for refugees and refugee claimants, it can take one year or more to secure that meaningful employment. Jumpstart is proud to say that the impact of their programs is tightening that gap and adding valuable tools to refugees and refugee claimants to explore their career journeys in Canada.

  • Is there anything else you’d like to highlight?

“We are thankful how quickly the BC community has embraced us in just a few short months of launching in the Greater Vancouver area”, said Masa to MAP intern Mohammed Zaqout, a refugee claimant himself who’s been volunteering with MAP since last year. “Canada’s current economic slowdown is only the beginning of a situation that will take unpredictable time to recover from. I’m sure many Canadians today are already familiar with forecasts of high unemployment, underemployment and economic downturn.

But none of the predictions seems to tell you that refugees and their families are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While we are fully aware that our work is overwhelming, critical, and time consuming, we, on the other hand, love our work and strongly believe in it for many reasons, one of them is that it’s personal, because many of us come from the same lived experience ourselves. Yet, we also know that our work couldn’t continue without the support of all Canadians, and your support today. We realize that we must continue to struggle as a growing grassroots organization because our work is needed now more than ever before to help Canadian businesses, refugees, and the economy rebound and move forward.’

You can click here to see Jumpstart’s upcoming skill building and storytelling events for the month of June.                 

To learn more about Jumpstart Refugee Talent visit: