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“Helping NGOs should be the norm, without a doubt.” - Antoine Clément, SAP, Konexio Corporate Partner

A developer who has worked at SAP for more than 10 years, Antoine seized the opportunity in 2017 to invest in disadvantaged communities through his firm. With his collaborators from SAP, he helped build a partnership with Konexio to teach refugees code and soft skills. Today, he reflects on this partnership, which he says taught him just as much as he taught Konexio’s students

How did the partnership between SAP and Konexio begin?

The partnership began in 2017. SAP had launched an initiative called “Refugee Code Week”, in order to introduce refugees in Middle Eastern camps to coding and to help them enter this booming profession. The SAP France Foundation, led by Alexandra Darras, was asking how we could give birth to this program in France. So we began a search for organizations working with refugee populations in France, like Konexio.

And you, what was your role in this partnership?

At the time of Refugee Code Week, I was just one volunteer among many. I was helping someone more experienced who led the lessons. I helped respond to questions, and in general tried to assist the refugees who were there. I fell in love with the principle, the connection, the experience.

Beyond Refugee Code Week, SAP continued to organize workshops with Konexio. It was at that point that I changed hats: I became a trainer and I helped push forward the partnership.

Can you describe the workshops?

At the beginning, they were about coding. The goal was to open the students' eyes to the technical environment, digital culture, and also their ability to build their own projects and digital learning. By accompanying them in their learning, they quickly become autonomous. The workshops were also a chance to create connections. For me that’s Konexio’s strong suit: creating connections between well-integrated French professionals and refugees. I found that it was critically important to create this exchange, this place where we can break stereotypes and have exchanges person to person. Konexio gets us involved and gets a whole ecosystem involved in changing views around immigration and refugees.

What do you personally bring to this partnership?

When I was part of beginning this partnership, it allowed me to use my technical skills for the public good. There aren’t enough chances to do that, and with Konexio, I can use my expertise to help people in fragile and precarious situations. Nowadays we don’t really teach coding classes, but instead help run interview simulations. We help the student understand how to take an interview, understand what their expectations should be, and in general gain access to the professional world.

What is the value of developing a partnership with NGOs is important for a business and it’s employees?

There is a widespread identity crisis in big business. When a business works with an NGO, it’s incredibly rewarding to help it reach its goals. But it also helps employees change their views about the NGO world and become aware that some people work full time to help and serve others. When we realize that, it leads us to ask how we, at the heart of a big business, can also put ourselves at the service of others. Businesses aggregate the intelligence, knowledge, and free time of people: it’s only right to give part of that back to NGOs. Helping NGOs should be the norm, without a doubt.

Any last words?

Long live Konexio!!

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