Yerevan, Armenia -
If you have ever thought about repatriation, what came to your mind first? I guess it was the following question: where to find information? How to create a local network? Where to find people who already went through this process so I can ask them my questions?
TeachSurfing’s Armenia Connect project aims to fill this knowledge gap by offering an automated matching solution where Armenians who want to repatriate to Armenia can fill in information about their skills and interests and then be automatically matched with job, educational, volunteering, and networking opportunities in Armenia. The platform will include forums where community members can exchange and support each other. Additionally it will offer e-learning courses to help navigate through the Armenian public sector processes.
During the recent years there have been many Armenians repatriating to Armenia, especially from Syria. Also, because of the latest crisis in Lebanon raised by the explosion in the capital, a new wave of Lebanese Armenians is repatriating to Armenia. With the rising number of Armenian repatriates, the resources of the Armenian government are overloaded with the activities to support them. We are customizing and extending our own technological stack and platform: teachsurfing.org, to rapidly build a new platform to support their work and diaspora Armenians on their way of repatriation.
As a result, we decided to apply for the GovTech Launchpad, a brand-new international pilot program which was launched by the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, GIZ Global Legal Program and Impact Hub Yerevan. The program aims at co-creating innovative solutions for public sector challenges through cooperation between startups and the public sector.
On September 20, 2020 we were among the 10 tech-startups pitching at the GovTech Launchpad Project Bootcamp. At the end of the day TeachSurfing was among the 4 finalists selected by the jury to participate in the Acceleration and prepare for the final pitching.
Currently Mariam Sargsyan, our Country Manager in Armenia actively participates in the meetings organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs of the Republic of Armenia and Impact Hub Yerevan. She had an opportunity to visit the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs of RA and meet with Sara Anjargolian, the Chief of Staff. After presenting our project to Ms. Anjargolian, Mariam had a very fruitful discussion with her, learned more about the needs of the Office and got some valuable advice for our platform.
In December 2020 we met the Repat Armenia team: Vartan Marashlyan, Co-founder and Executive Director; Dzovag Soghomonian, Integration Manager; and Marianna Chobanyan, Integration/Community Manager. They kindly agreed to help us with their expertise and network as Repat Armenia has the largest online community of diaspora Armenians and a huge experience in the repatriation processes.
The Acceleration will end in January, 2021. Until then our team is actively working on the MVP of our platform. We believe that our platform can play a key role in the development of Armenia, especially economic development. As the Co-Founder of TeachSurfing is a diaspora Armenian herself and as we have team members and projects locally in Armenia, it is in our personal motivation to bridge the gap and connect diaspora Armenians to opportunities and networks in Armenia, to help them access accurate repatriation information and community.
After the recent events and the post war social and economical challenges raised in Armenia, we see there is an even more urgent need to connect diaspora Armenians to their homeland. We believe that the diaspora not only can support the country in “traditional” ways such as donation but with their knowledge, their network and eventually by moving back to Armenia with the motivation to support Armenia to rebuild and recover from its wounds caused by the war. We see the urgency that today more than ever Armenians shall unite and work together and we would like to contribute with our platform to this cause.