"It started with some conversations with friends in December.
"The banks had shut down, politicians had stolen everything they could. People took to the streets, of course. They needed money. You couldn't pay for anything - rent, food. Employers couldn't pay employees. You couldn't get currency - and if you could, it was close to worthless. The lira had lost 80% of its value. Cost shot up. Salaries slashed.
"And then Covid hit. And then the explosion."
Roy Baladi pauses. He's one of those people who combines a mixture of Buddha-like calm with deep intensity. And this is personal for him.
"We wanted to do something. A group of us, 10 founders, got together. A mix of expats and Lebanese. We wanted to reach the global diaspora and find some way to connect people with work, with income. That's where we came up with the idea for Jobs for Lebanon."
As it turns out, Roy was in a particularly good place to do this. As the Head of Communications for SmartRecruiters (one of the leading recruiting technology solutions on the planet), he had potential tools at his disposal.
With this, he approached the founder of SmartRecruiters - Jerome Ternynck - with an idea: could they create a job marketplace for Lebanon? One that reached not just those still in-country, but the massive Lebanese expat community.
The first campaign, "What if we could create jobs in Lebanon," invited Lebanese expats around the world to join forces to hire qualified talents inside Lebanon.
Describing the product they launched March 10th (it had gone viral, and demand for it grew to the point that they launched a week earlier than their original March 16 go-live):
It is a complete recruiting product modeled on SmartRecruiters to create jobs, receive applications, send offers and hire people. With this job portal, we began creating links with all existing initiatives, and scaling from there.
Six months later, Jobs for Lebanon has had 100,000 people on-site, from 175 countries, 830 jobs from abroad, 7500+ candidates, and powered more than a 100 hires. Their headcount has scaled from 10 to 62 volunteers located around the globe, and registered as a US non-profit. It describes itself as:
The 100 who were hired ranged from scientists to piano teachers to marketers. Across the ranged of skill-sets.
Along the journey, the United Nations has taken notice. They had seen how Jobs for Lebanon could execute from the beginning. When the explosion hit, Jobs for Lebanon, in partnership with the Lebanon Relief Working Group, organized a relief effort which secured $12.7 million for relief efforts. UNICEF approached them to see if they could suggest ideas to help at-risk youth in Lebanon:
"They have the budget, and they want to help, but need partners who can get things done in the real world. We're ideal for that. We gave them a proposal for how we could best help, and they liked it."
This is one for anyone who thinks in terms of pipe-lines, re-skilling. Job-matching. This is where the recruiting geeks might want to get interested.
The plan is ambitious: take 100 at-risk youths. Kids who are growing up in the camps, on the streets, with minimal obvious work skills. Match them with a certified career coach, who's role is to "help them with everything: with their appearance, how to apply for a job, how to interview. We record high-quality videos for them, too. They get online support for everything. It becomes educational for them - they learn more than just how to get a job. They learn how to work, too. The coach stays with them for three months to help them acclimate, smooth over bumps, answer questions they might not want to ask at work."
The cliche here is appropriate: "teach someone to fish, and you feed them for life."
From there, the goal is to take the key learnings from the initial 100, iterate, and scale the program.
The goal of Jobs for Lebanon itself, according to Baladi, is:
We’re going to scale it - to create an alternate economy for Lebanon. Set up the ability to work remotely. A staffing agency dedicated to working with the expats. Create 20-30k jobs. Make the system adapt, get smarter and smarter, set up smart job alerts as it learns. This is the beginning.
When asked how the industry can help: "This is a talent pool that's waiting to be tapped. The average citizen is trilingual and well-educated. There is infrastructure in place to support outsourcing, several large companies already have presences here. It's extremely high talent for a low price, that will work hard if given the chance."
Post your jobs on Jobs for Lebanon. Reach out to Roy directly with questions.
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