• Corporate philanthropy

Refugeeks by Simplon, a program to facilitate refugee integration through learning of digital skills and French

Created by the Simplon(Opens in a new tab) network, the “Refugeeks” program set up in 2019, aims to reduce the digital divide for refugees while offering them the opportunity to learn French. When they arrive on French soil, refugees face many obstacles to their integration: a language they need to learn and the lack of landmarks when it comes to internet use. In the frame of the BNP Paribas European-wide refugee aid program launched in 2015, the BNP Paribas Foundation has been supporting the Refugeeks program since inception, amongst other partners.

The digital divide: an exclusion factor

The digital divide, defined as inequalities in access and use of new technologies, is a problem that the health crisis caused by the pandemic has made even more significant. When this divide affects fragile populations, it becomes a major factor of exclusion and in turn an obstacle to integration in society. As a result, refugees face a double barrier: the language barrier and the lack of digital skills.

Simplon’s program “Refugeeks” aims to respond to this dual linguistic and digital stake to make refugees’ integration easier.

8 weeks of training combining French classes and learning of fundamental digital skills

For 6 to 8 weeks, a class of about 15 refugees learn the very concrete aspects of digital learning, such as searching on the internet for administrative procedures, mastering digital tools to create a resume, looking for a job, knowing and learning to master social networks, etc. To achieve this, they follow French classes throughout their curriculum. At the end of the program, they must pass a certification.

Refugeeks by Simplon: 2020 overview




years old on average


success rate for the CNF Refugeeks certification

More than just a training, Refugeeks allows great encounters and stimulates learners

Learners and supervisors alike say that during these intense weeks of training, these often-isolated people will create bonds, take the time to get to know each other and take a certain pride in obtaining a certificate.

Asif, 32 years old, participant in the Refugeeks training in Paris:

The course taught me to find a job or an apprenticeship on the Internet: on LinkedIn or Pôle Emploi for instance. I also learned to manage my personal spaces on the Pôle Emploi and CAF websites."

After the first training centers in Paris and Montpellier, the program will expand to new cities in 2021. The training is now offered in Montreuil, Nantes, Marseille, Nice, Roubaix and Toulouse. The three-year objective with Refugeeks is to train nearly 350 refugees between 2020 and 2022

Learners of the Refugeeks training in Montpellier talk about their experience

Valbona and Cyrus took part in the Refugeeks program at the Montpellier training center: they talk about their experience.

Since 2015, BNP Paribas has supported a programme in favour of refugees in Europe

Eleven countries now take part in this scheme: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. 

In France, the BNP Paribas Foundation supports the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Auteuil Apprenticeship Programme (a scheme to help unaccompanied minors), Simplon ("Refugeeks") and the Cité Internationale Universitaire (accommodation grants). 

The BNP Paribas Retail Bank backs around 10 organisations involved in the professional integration of refugees in France.

SIMPLON.CO is a training centre that provides a solution to the digital divide, which particularly affects refugees.

Learn more about the BNP Paribas European aid program for refugees

Photo header Refugeeks 2021 © DR Fondation BNP Paribas 

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