Founded by Mursal Hedayat, a refugee from Afghanistan living in the UK, and Guillemette Dejean, a Y Combinator alum, Chatterbox is an online language learning platform designed and delivered by refugees. Language skills and cultural knowledge are increasingly necessary for professionals in the globalized economy. The Chatterbox digital platform uniquely combines AI-powered self-study courses alongside algorithmically matched native language coaches from the refugee community. Coaches are paired with students based on shared professional backgrounds and interests, achieving industry topping completion rates and unbeatable relevance in learning. On the app, engineers are learning Arabic from fellow engineers and aid workers are learning French from medical doctors. And while Chatterbox clients learn, their refugee coaches earn a living, improve their employability, and reclaim their professional identities. Classes can be offered one-on-one, in small groups, to whole classrooms, or for organizations who purchase lessons on behalf of their members.
E-learning is a rapidly expanding field and Chatterbox is well positioned as a highly differentiated offering to capture part of the online language learning market. The company’s commitment to supporting refugees has generated considerable media interest in the company and will be an asset for their marketing strategy. They have already secured a variety of corporate clients including WeWork, SOAS University of London, the British Red Cross, and the University of Edinburgh. Partnerships with universities and other educational institutions represent a significant income opportunity for Chatterbox.
Potential refugee impact
Currently, there is an enormous labour market inefficiency in the integration of highly skilled and educated refugees. This group is estimated to represent up to 20% of the global population of displaced people and is capable of producing billions of dollars of value, given the chance. They are surprisingly underserved by existing NGOs and interventions, perhaps because of the complex barriers they face in applying their overseas qualifications and expertise in their adopted homes. The Chatterbox digital platform creates a space for them to demonstrate and validate their expertise through teaching – based on the philosophy that ‘those who can, teach’ – creating an innovative labour market reintegration process that helps to better match refugees’ abilities with the work they can do.
Chatterbox is a limited company registered in the UK focused on addressing the language and cultural learning needs of both individual and corporate clients.