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Imagine this: you have run away from a war-torn country, escaped persecution, left family behind, travelled by boat and foot. 

Now you have finally made it to the UK, where your case might possibly take months or even years to be accepted and you are finally granted official refugee status.

 

You are now free to start working but instead, you face a new mountain to climb – social and professional discrimination and (in many cases) having to say goodbye to the degree you toiled over in your home country because it is not recognized in your adoptive home.

 

You have little to no understanding of the country’s job market let alone a connection to anybody who can help in your professional field.

This is where Kimiyaa steps in.

 

It is our goal to help our refugee mentees get on their feet and on the first rung of the job ladder to ensure long term integration - and ultimately independence.

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About Us

About us

 

Created in 2017, Kimiyaa was born in response to the peak of the refugee crisis in Germany.

 

After the success of the pilot mentorship programme in Munich, Kimiyaa began its operations in the UK  and launched a London programme in 2019. 

The Kimiyaa community is comprised of mentees, mentors and sponsors all working towards the common goal of social sustainability and inclusion.

There are eighty million displaced people around the world. The majority of refugees undertake life-threatening risks, often escaping war and political persecution, in order to seek safety.

For most, the ‘last mile’ on the journey towards full integration and independence is finding employment. 

Faced with ongoing challenges in their new country, we contribute in helping refugees access the professional world to enable economic and cultural integration. 

Who do we support

Who do we support?

Our mentorship programme offers a home for both refugees and asylum seekers to access professional guidance and vocational training. This allows them to connect, network and develop the tools needed to enter the job market and integrate long-term.

What does it mean to be a refugee or an asylum seeker?

A refugee is:


An individual who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. (UNHCR)

Refugees have the right to work in their adoptive country.

Kimiyaa helps refugees on their path to professional integration.

An asylum seeker is:


An individual who is seeking international protection. An asylum-seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which the claim is submitted.

Not every asylum-seeker will ultimately be recognized as a refugee, but every refugee was initially an asylum-seeker. (UNHCR)

 

Asylum-seekers are not allowed to work until granted refugee status.

Kimiyaa supports asylum-seekers during their waiting time to provide professional training and guidance, which will help them once their status has been clarified.

UK Statistics

374,000

Individuals of refugee backgrounds in the UK

49%

UK refugees are unemployed the vast
majority are actively seeking work
(UK unemployment rate is 4%)

53%

of UK refugees live in London

How We Work

How we work

 

Mentorships are held online or in-person (Covid permitting) for 8 weekly sessions. 

 

We operate mentorships on the following basis:

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Focused professional mentoring providing refugees with the tools for long-term integration and independence

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Bespoke matchmaking tailored to an individual’s unique background, qualifications and interests 

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Supporting refugees who are officially assimilated into their new country as well as asylum seekers waiting for their status to be confirmed

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Partnering with refugee and asylum seeker organisations who refer their clients to us for help in their professional journeys

Kimiyaa and the UN Sustainable Development Goals

 

What Kimiyaa is doing on a localised level is part of a much wider global picture. With boots on the ground, we join the fight against social inequality and work to incorporate social sustainability into all layers of life.

 

We aim to be a driving force in supporting and implementing the values set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). 

 

Our mentorship programmes promote learning opportunities for vocational stability, create access to professional connections, and hope to contribute to the advancement of self-sufficient individuals and, in turn, sustainable communities. 

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Team
Meet the Team
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Eytan Heller

Co-founder & Matchmaker

Kimiyaa founder Eytan was born in Brussels and has lived in Israel for most of his life. He now resides in London. He has a diverse background in entrepreneurship, social activism and documentary filmmaking with a particular focus on promoting civil rights through creative grass-roots projects. 

Eytan holds a M.Sc. in Politics of the World Economy from the London School of Economics.

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Danna Heller

Co-founder, Managing Director & Matchmaker

Israeli-born Danna grew up in Texas and now resides in London. Her multi-disciplinary background spans urban innovation, sustainability, arts and cultural sector leadership. Danna has curated numerous projects bringing diverse communities together in Israel, Europe and the US. She holds an MA in Art History from Tel Aviv University and an Executive MBA from Imperial College Business School.

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Andrew Walsh

UK Manager

Andrew led our first London programme and continues to help Kimiyaa grow.

Andrew has extensive experience in the charity sector with a particular focus on supporting refugees. He has worked with the Refugee Council, the Refugee Support Network and Crisis and is currently the Mentoring Project Coordinator for Hope for the Young. Andrew holds a First Class Honours in English from UCL, a Masters in Political Thought and Philosophy, and a PGCE.

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Olena Posternak

Ukraine Refugees Coordinator

Like many fellow Ukrainians, Olena escaped her home town of Kyiv

with her two children and parents. Olena is now transitioning in Krakow, Poland. She has a background in Education as a teacher and programme coordinator.

She also studied Theatre and Film in Kyiv. She is currently helping her fellow citizens getting to a safe place.

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Daya Benami
Narasimhan

Volunteer

Daya has an Israeli, Indian, and American background, and has lived in London for most of her life. She is a second-year student at Columbia University, where she is working towards a BA in Human Rights. She has volunteer experience in various organizations and projects focusing on human rights and social justice. 

Trustees & Advisors
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Monika Friedman

Monika is a German native who has lived and worked all over the world but currently resides in the Rocky Mountains. She has 15 years experience in corporate sales and marketing and practices Health & Life Coaching. Monika holds an MBA from the University of Zurich in Switzerland and is an accredited coach with the International Coaching Federation.

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Marc Iarchy 

Marc was born in the Belgian city of Antwerp but has lived in London since 1991. He works in Equipment Finance, managing funds for Tier I US and Asian investors, and firmly believes in the right to and importance of education. Marc holds an MSc in Accounting and Finance from the Manchester Business School. .

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Martin Lefranc

French-born Martin has lived in the UK for over a decade. 

He became a Kimiyaa mentor in 2019 and describes the mentoring experience as both eye-opening and rewarding. He holds a MA in History from La Sorbonne and has spent the last 15 years working as a digital marketer for multiple companies, including LeapFrog, Google and Entertainment One. 

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Daniel Sternoff

Daniel resides in New York. He has experience in international affairs, energy and climate transition and journalism. He directs macro research with Medley Global Advisors and Energy Aspects, speaking regularly at institutions such as the Aspen Institute and the Carnegie Council on Ethics in International Affairs. He holds an MA in International Economics and Middle Eastern Studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

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Janet Lim

Janet has had a 34-year career with the UN serving in various positions. She was formerly the Assistant High Commissioner in charge of operations in UNHCR. Her field assignments have included leading UNHCR's country and emergency operations in different parts of the world, including Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Western Sahara and Syria.  Janet was seconded to UNAIDS and to the peacekeeping operation, UNAMA, in Afghanistan.

Partners

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Kimiyaa is grateful to Paul Hastings LLP for its pro bono legal support.

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