BNP Paribas – Promoting the professional integration of refugees and contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 8

May 22, 2019

Although the global economic recovery is continuing, we are seeing a slowdown in growth, widening inequality and a continued lack of decent employment opportunities worldwide. How can BNP Paribas Switzerland help?

The creation of stable jobs and decent working conditions are the key ingredients for sustainable economic growth that benefits the entire global population.”

Supporting entrepreneurs and boosting their impact

From start-ups and SMEs to multinationals, BNP Paribas supports all types of companies. Through its financing and responsible investment activities, the bank plays a role in society’s economic development and also promotes job creation.

BNP Paribas has implemented a number of projects to support positive and sustainable economic growth, deciding to focus in particular on creating and developing a strategy promoting social entrepreneurship. One such initiative, Act for Impact, offers tailored banking support to entrepreneurs with innovative solutions in order to enhance their impact, accelerate projects and provide them with access to a network of key partners in France.

Promoting professional integration in Switzerland

Since 2019, the BNP Paribas Swiss Foundation has been a partner of the RISE programme (Responsible Internships to Support Employment), which enables young refugees aged 16–25 to become part of the workforce by developing a career plan through individual coaching. The programme offers young people corporate internships so that they can familiarise themselves with the local professional environment and acquire new skills. It is coordinated by two associations: Friends International Switzerland and AMIC. This year, for the second time, the bank will welcome three interns from this programme who will have the opportunity to discover different jobs in the field of banking.

This programme is an integral part of the BNP Paribas Group’s plan to support the hosting and integration of refugees in Europe, which is set to contribute more than €12 million to integration projects in nine European countries between 2015 and 2021.

A conference to explain the challenges of refugee integration

To mark the partnership, a conference was held at the bank’s premises on Thursday, 16 May on the theme “Young refugees: a corporate internship as a springboard for the future”. The event brought together partners from the RISE network, as well as bank employees interested in these issues. Metin Türker, Project Manager at the Bureau de l’Intégration des Etrangers (BIE) – the office for the integration of foreigners of the Canton of Geneva – and Huda Bakhet and Emmanuelle Werner, co-founders of the RISE project, spoke about the challenges of refugee integration in Geneva.

“The number of unaccompanied minor refugees arriving in Geneva more than doubled between 2015 and 2017, from 40 to 260. Most of them were between 15 and 17 when they arrived”, said Mr Türker. “We realised that once they reached 18, it was very difficult to find a career without regular support and access to a network. And thus the RISE project was born. Thanks to the internships offered – even if they are just for a short period – these young people are able to show future employers that they have professional experience in Switzerland, which will open more doors for them.” adds Mrs Bakhet.

Mounira Fellag, BNP Paribas employee in the legal team, and Osman Ibrahim, a beneficiary of the RISE programme, were also present to talk about their own experience.

“Osman’s time with us in the summer of 2018 was appreciated by the entire team. In addition to being a competent worker and carrying out the tasks he was assigned with great care and diligence, Osman was full of ideas and his cheerful nature was infectious. We are delighted to learn that BNP Paribas will be hosting new interns this year.”

Following his internship at BNP Paribas, Osman was able to join the Swiss pre-apprenticeship integration programme (PAI), which consists of one year of dual vocational training to help prepare for federal vocational education and training (AFP or CFC) or find a job.