There is no AIDA Impact without the Impact

AIDA Impact employs immigrant and refugee women, especially mothers, who have had to leave their home countries to start over. For many of our employees, AIDA is the first point of contact with working life in Finland. AIDA also aims to provide its employees a network in a new country. Striving for early and flexible labour market participation, AIDA has already facilitated the integration of 15 women in the capital area in Finland, since its launch in 2018. AIDA is committed to a vision of building local social networks, disrupting urban segregation and increasing social participation, cultural awareness, diversity, and respect. 

 

Why immigrant and refugee women – and especially mothers?

Finding a job in a new country without contacts, local language or recognition of the foreign professional qualification would be challenging for anyone. In general, immigrants experience greater risks of social exclusion and low income than the resident population, and attention should be paid to the ways of securing them an equal access to employment, education, and social services. However, according to European Commission, refugees and non-EU migrants represent a particularly vulnerable group of migrants on the labour market and in a society, and there are even wider labour related gaps among women of resident and migrant populations than among men (e.g. European Public Employment Services, 2020). Out of all the immigrant groups refugee women with children are at the highest risk of staying unemployed. In fact, OECD (2018) has urged Finland to focus on integrating migrant women and their children to boost their contribution to the economy and society.

The ever increasing migration is one of the most critical challenges our global community is facing, and it is interconnected to the broader global social, political, economic, and technological transformations (International Organization for Migration IOM, 2019). 79.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes (UNHCR, 2020) due to various reason such as war, violence and persecution. (To put this into perspective, the population of the entire United Kingdom was 66.65 million in 2019.) According to the UN Refugee Agency, the amount of refugees has not been as high for the last 70 years. Already in 2018, the refugee population under UNHCR’s mandate had nearly doubled since 2012.

The number of refugees will only rise in the years to come. People have always migrated to flee from violence or to find better opportunities in life, and will keep doing so in the future. In urgent need, this is what we would all do. AIDA Impact echoes what Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said: 

While language around refugees and migrants is often divisive, we are also witnessing an outpouring of generosity and solidarity […] we are also seeing unprecedented engagement by new actors including development actors, private businesses, and individuals […] we must build on these positive examples and redouble our solidarity with the many thousands of innocent people who are forced to flee their homes each day.” (UNHCR, 2019)

By choosing AIDA, our customers are supporting the integration of families that have had to leave their home countries to start it all over. We wholeheartedly thank each and every one of our customers for supporting us in this important mission.

  

Why focus on work?

 Research continuously suggests that early and effective labour market participation is a key aspect of the integration process. Entering the labour market is not only essential for autonomous and independent living, but it can also address other needs that many refugees might have: it improves language skills, builds local and social networks, increases social participation and cultural awareness, and improves physical and mental health. (PES, 2019)

Do you remember someone believing in you for the first time? How did that experience transform your life? The world is full of jobs that require 100 skills and years or experience. Landing that first job, “getting one’s foot in the door”, is often not easy. How about succeeding with that vital first step in a foreign country, without contacts, local language or recognition of the foreign professional qualification – and with young children? 

AIDA employs immigrant and refugee mothers, one of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of people in the society. Too often women who have moved to Finland are left outside the working life. Only 31% of women who have immigrated from the Middle East and North Africa are employed in Finland. We believe that work that gives a newcomer of the society an income of one’s own, and an opportunity to get to know new people and to experience a sense of achievement and fulfilment is the best way to start building a new life. Perhaps even more importantly, a working mother can give an example to the next generation. Children who see their mothers working, will learn that women, too, can have jobs, their own money, own dreams and lives outside their homes.

Through AIDA, our employees gain work experience, income, and a network – and perhaps eventually a proficiency of Finnish language. However, we acknowledge the challenges many of our AIDA women with children face when trying to balance between motherhood and working life. Thus, working for AIDA is not a full-time job. Our employment model is based on flexibility and maintains a low-threshold. For instance, no Finnish language skills are required in the making of the jewellery and we code-switch between Finnish, English and Arabic.  Furthermore, the women of AIDA can negotiate how much work they want to do and when. If they wish, they can also mainly work from home, something that is often crucial for the employment of mothers who have young children.

For all AIDA employees with immigrant and refugee backgrounds, working for AIDA is their first job in Finland - often the first job ever. We believe that our talented women and mothers can have great careers ahead of them, the job with AIDA is just the beginning. However, one always has to start from somewhere, and at AIDA, we aim to be that crucial “foot in the door” moment.  Together let us make this world a more equal place for people of all genders, and of all ethnic, national, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

  

Impact and our mission in the light of United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations has established 17 interconnected Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are aimed at achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. These goals address the global challenges we all face, and they have to do with issues such as inequality and environmental degradation. The United Nations’ SDGs should guide the work of governments, NGOs, and companies.

AIDA strives to make a positive impact on the lives of the members of AIDA community, but also on the future of our society. AIDA’s mission is closely connected to many of the SDG’s. The most obvious and relevant ones for our work are:

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

Goal 10: Reduced Inequality

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Through our work, we strive to have a positive impact also on:

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

GOAL 13: Climate Action

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal

  

Collaborations

AIDA is always open to discuss opportunities for collaboration, both with businesses and with organisations. Social impact -wise, we are hoping to organise and to take part in more events and projects that highlight the social justice side of AIDA. So far, in Finland we have worked together with Sitra, Plan, Suomen Pakolaisapu (#empathymovement), Ruskeat Tytöt, Monika-Naiset liitto ry. and Startup Refugees. We have, for instance, donated parts of our sales to some of these organisations, as they are doing important work promoting the equality of immigrant women and people of colour in Finland.

If you think that you, your organisation or your institution might be able to embark on something interesting with AIDA Impact, do not hesitate to contact us at iida@aidaimpact.com.

AIDA also welcomes more women to join the team. Please, check our careers site if interested.

AIDA team in Helsinki, August 2018
Elina, Nonna, Sara, Lamya, Sofi, Muhamed and Fatima