Jean Guo founded Konexio in 2016 to promote sustainable social and economic inclusion of refugees and migrants in France. From her personal background to her work experiences, she explains her motivations behind starting Konexio and her plans for it in the coming years, which include introducing Konexio to new demographic groups such as disadvantaged youth and women seeking employment, and to new regions and countries, including Aquitaine, Hauts-de-France, and Malawi.
What is your background ?
I studied economics at Stanford University and was a recent Rubenstein fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. After finishing my studies, I worked as a consultant in Silicon Valley. Through a Fulbright fellowship, I pursued migrant-related research in France at the Paris School of Economics. My research focused on the economic and health challenges faced by migrant and refugee communities in France. Through my practical experience conducting research, I found that most existing organizations focused on refugees’ and migrants’ basic needs (food, clothing, housing), but not enough was done to foster their economic and social inclusion, which are social factors that promote long-term autonomy.
How did you come up with Konexio ?
My personal experience inspired me to start Konexio. I immigrated to the United States at the age of 5 with my mother. As the daughter of an immigrant family, I witnessed first-hand the hardships we encountered as we settled in a new country, including social, cultural , linguistic and professional integration barriers.
Because of these experiences, I can understand the immense burden of socio-economic exclusion, especially when one does not have the required skills to secure a job. For me, digital technologies have enabled my access to the opportunities which have had a decisive impact on my life.
What pushed you to become an entrepreneur ?
Having had the chance to interact with migrants and refugees during my research, I realised the importance of digital inclusion and soft skills in boosting social, economic and professional opportunities. My research and field experience in Paris motivated me to start Konexio because I could propose a solution to the lack of support in France for digitally excluded people. Right now, 90% of jobs require basic digital skills, so those lacking these skills cannot access the job market.
The vision in the 3 to 5 years
We are currently operating in two countries - France and Malawi- and also have a branch in the United States. Our goal for 2020 is to consolidate our regional operations and increase our impact by training 750+ students.
As the winners of the Google Impact Challenge, our mandate for the next 3 years is to expand our activities to two new regions in France and to train 10,000 students by the year 2023.