NEW YORK, United StatesIraq
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Re:Coded transforms the massive intellectual potential of Syrian refugees and IDPs by using a low-cost blended approach to provide 21st century skills training including coding and English before linking them to remote employment as software developers.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could close the global skills gap by employing refugees?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

More than 4million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries since the crisis commenced in 2011. Over 250,000 have sought refuge in Iraq, where only 4% have access to education and livelihoods forcing them to adopt negative coping strategies such as sexual and labor exploitation, recruitment by armed groups and early marriage. With the average length of stay in a refugee camp being 17 years, sustainable solutions are crucial.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Refugees must be equipped with 21st century skills and empowered to build new lives – both in their host communities and countries where they will eventually resettle. Re:Coded uses a low-cost blended learning approach (part face-to-face, part digital instruction) to train and certify participants over a six month period in technical IT skills (i.e. coding), English and a mix of soft skills before placing them into jobs as remote software developers with our private sector partners -Microsoft and Guru. Re:Coded participants are able to generate an income immediately, compete in the regional and global job market from anywhere at any time as long as they access to a computer and the internet and continue to refine their skills on the job.


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Education Challenge
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The impact of Re:Coded’s training and employment initiative as described by one of our participants: “Before I fled Syria, I lived happily with my family in Damascus and attended high-school. I was an excellent student and always dreamt of studying Engineering. When Damascus became too dangerous, our family fled to Iraq. It took us nearly a year to get here on foot. We arrived in this camp three years ago and I had to start working in a local market to support my family. I started to give up on my dreams. Then, I was selected as a participant for Re:Coded. It has given me hope as I’ve been able continue my education, be part of a community and learn a new skill (coding), which will enable me to earn an income and support my family."

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Within its first 12 months, Re:Coded will train, certify and employ 100 Syrian refugees in Iraq through our private sector partners, Microsoft and Guru. The initiative not only stops refugees from adopting negative coping strategies like early marriage and recruitment by armed groups but also leads to increased self-reliance using a market orientated approach. Each of our participants supports on average 3.6 other people in their community. The presence of livelihood opportunities also serves as motivation for refugees to complete primary and secondary school, thus creating a “pull factor” that supports continuous learning. Within 3 yrs of operation, we aim to train 2500 students and have over 1500 employees in Iraq. Within 5 yrs, the model will be replicated in 5 countries and we'll have trained over 15,000 youth. Within 10 yrs, we aspire to be active in every capital across the region.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Over the next 2 yrs, we plan on refining the training model and scaling up operations across Iraq to 3 other cities. Once we have a solid proof of concept, we will start scaling out and replicating adapted versions of the model across the region for wider impact. In countries where we have solid partnerships, we will expand our own team otherwise, we'll offer licenses to other organizations to run adapted versions of the initiative using our platform. Over the next 2 years we also hope to move away from a grant based model to a self-funded training model.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Currently, Re:Coded is funded through a grant based model with our primary donors being the United Nations. In the next two years, we would like to move towards a self-funded training model. As such, instead of using external funding to pay for participants training, we will finance their education through the client work they do upon completing their initial training.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Whilst there are a plethora of NGO-funded vocational training opportunities for refugees, they are often too short to enable participants to master a skill, not driven by market demands and rarely create sustainable differences in livelihood outcomes for participants. Re:Coded uses a sustainable market orientated model to train vulnerable youth in 21stC transferable skills, unlock talent pipelines and fill global skills gaps in software development. By working directly with the private sector, we link participants directly to income generating jobs rather than rely on aid or exploitative labor

Founding Story

On June 10 2014, I flew to Iraq to implement a peacebuilding project –they very day, ISIS took over large swaths of the country. The incursion displaced over 4million Iraqi's, compounding an already dire humanitarian and security situation. I spent the next 2 weeks interviewing 300 refugees and displaced youth to explore some of the main economic and social challenges. Only 4% had access to education, yet all of them wanted to continue learning. I realized that not investing in refugees and displaced populations is a huge missed opportunity. I turned down the job I'd been offered and founded Re:Coded with the aim of finding a way to fill the global skills gaps with refugees.


The core management team is made up by a full-time Founder (Ali Clare) and full time Iraq Director (Audrey Watne). In each training location, we have local implementing partners who provide full time trainers and support staff to facilitate our programs. This ensures that we are contextually appropriate to local needs. We also additional wrap around support in Iraq from the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Danish Refugee Council and the UN Development Program in terms of programatic expertise, monitoring and evaluation and training locations. As we expand, we will hire additional staff to manage the expansion of the model both at a headquarters and country level.
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Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:


Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

I am an entrepreneur at heart and as far back I can remember, I have been launching businesses – from selling homemade cards around my local neighborhood at the age of 6 to launching Re:Coded. This year, I also launched a social innovation accelerator at New York University to help social entrepreneurs design and implement solutions to humanitarian and development issues using technology. Over the last six months, the accelerator has helped 13 passionate teams to develop projects from idea to implementation. Around the social entrepreneurs, we organized the relevant materials, mentors and coaching networks, training exercises, and practice sessions to develop effective and scalable initiatives. Our second intake is launching in partnership with UNDP Lebanon to help youth address various local social and economic problems.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

I am working directly with the UN Development Program who provide donor guidance for the initiative. I also work closely with a team at New York University to provide, advise and mentorship and I have a team of external advisors/ mentors from various organizations such as Acumen for scaling strategies to McKinsey and Skadden who can provide strategic and legal advice.