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  • Robert Hayward

Lessons from The GoodFX Digital Skills and Economic Inclusion Programme

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

GoodFX began in 2020 as an alternative fundraising vehicle for charities, 50% of who were going to go bankrupt if the covid lockdown persisted too long (according to CAF). As emergency funding for charities rolls off, that funding crisis is still with us.

By Robert Hayward

Since then, however, another crisis has only grown more urgent – the refugee crisis. As climate change piles extreme pressure on economic, social, and political fault lines across the world, more and more people are forced to flee their homes. Kenya, in particular, which hosts the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, has seen refugee numbers in those two camps alone swell to support more than 500,000 registered and unregistered refugees.

This is why over the summer I found myself on twice weekly zoom calls to Kenya, helping Nova Arkney to deliver digital sales training on Zoom to our first refugee training cohort. A small test pilot, these three people were unconnected by age, place of birth or even first language. Connected only by the reluctant label of refugee.

Indeed, beyond funding impact initiatives with cash donations, GoodFX has now embarked upon a new challenge – using our business model as a vehicle to drive and nurture economic inclusion and to directly drive greater diversity in financial services.

This challenge started with partnerships with ConCat and StepUp. Each company provides employment and training for marginalised people and each one is respectively running our website and social media. But what about exporting our own knowledge from within GoodFX? Decades of experience, selling finance and SAAS products sits within our team.

What about sharing these skillsets to empower marginalised, stateless individuals? It is worth noting that if finance and tech can drive huge income inequalities within our own domestic economy, real economic opportunity for developing markets can only happen if we equip them to partake in those industries on the same footing. It might solve some of the D&I challenges for Financial Services at the same time….

So, we created what for many companies would be labelled an outsourced graduate training program for marginalized and disenfranchised people. Finance Unlocked have been huge supporters of GoodFX, and they willingly supplied curriculum materials. By fortune I also met AimHire, a social enterprise whose founder Nova Arkney believes passionately in the potential of Sales Training in Economic mobility. If you can make an individual commercially autonomous, they become valuable, and companies will pay them…And if we share a proportion of the revenue Fellows bring in, then perhaps we can help provide an economic platform for them to move on as well…

This summer saw us deploy our 10-week finance and sales training progamme for refugees in Kenya: two and a half hours of training a week, ten hours of financial market training and some simulated scenarios to get used to the sales process in real life. All lined up to provide quantifiable experience, transferable skills and a 10% profit share of any new clients that their new skills brought to the GoodFX platform.

Sounds straightforward? It turns out I was the one who got schooled. This is what I learnt:

  • The Refugee Label is a blanket term that easily conjures up a faceless portrait of mass displacement. For each individuals however, a very personal history of loss, danger, and often heartbreak exists. Greater reverence should be reserved for those to whom this label applies, and in our current lexical revolution, maybe we could ask that ‘refugee’ might be replaced by ‘temporary refugee’.

  • Talent overflowing – One percent of the world’s population is currently displaced. If that one percent is as talented, driven and articulate as the trio I trained this summer, then the global system is literally throwing talent out of the window. An aspiring video-journalist, a digital design student and an athlete, all with interrupted singular journeys towards success (by forces no amount of manifestation could resist). When politicians and economists ponder the skills gap in developed markets, our experience, is that untapped talent is most definitely there and ready to flourish. Just sometimes, it is hidden under the flap of a tent.

  • Learning For Learning’s Sake – Surprisingly, when asking about the spectrum of economic opportunities in refugee camps, the more vocal objections were not so much directed at micro tasking but rather towards ‘education for education’s sake’. ‘What is the point in doing a fancy developer course for 12 weeks, if you are not ever going to get a developer job at the end?!’. Our course had to remain razor focused on enhancing the chances of prosperity for our Fellows – Quantifiable tasks, internationally recognized CPD credits and broadly transferable skills. Striking a balance between tasks that are achievable in a challenging/low internet environment but also worthwhile is incredibly challenging. We are getting there though!

  • Patience – We did get however, get some things wrong, with some particular mistakes with our IT support. They forgave us, and kept working incredibly hard. Their patience gentler than could be expected and it made me reflect on an altered sense of time for displaced people. When time is not regimented by moving of the sun, but rather by institutions and legal frameworks, an individual has their patience continually tested. How long anyone should rely on artificially extended patience, however, is a dangerous question.

  • Football – Is truly a universal language. Arsenal vs Man Utd is more carefully watched in Kenya, than in the mean streets of Islington. While an easy lingua franca, nobody in Kakuma, however, has ever heard of Charlton Athletic nor The Red Red Robin… On my own down the Valley Floyd Road once again.

On my very first day in a global investment bank, my mentor sat me down and told me:

‘An idiot on the street could do this job, your job is justifying why that idiot should be you’.

As we deliver more of these programs, we must ensure that our FX customers choose us as their favourite idiots, not because we are a tolerable, but because of the difference we make once we have saved our clients money vs their incumbent provider.

So, if you are a CFO or treasurer and you get a message from one of our Fellows, please consider answering them. Their program cohort get a 10% share of the profits for 2 years.

Five minutes of your time can considerably change their lives.


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