Last year, more than 1.1 million people fled to Europe from places like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 163,000 refugees applied for asylum in Sweden in 2015. (In Europe, only Germany — with nearly 10 times Sweden’s population — received more requests, according to the United Nations.)
Tiny Finland, with just 5.5 million people, reported 32,000 asylum seekers in 2015 versus 3,651 applicants the year before.
Migrants are a burden on countries offering comprehensive welfare services ranging from guaranteed housing to universal health care. All services depend on taxes paid by residents with steady jobs. So it’s to everyone’s benefit when asylum seekers find work quickly.
“Dish” Eldishnawy, founder of Finnish big data company Floralytics, recently co-moderated Newcomer Bootcamp — a one-day course for refugees from Syria, Iraq and Somalia on setting up and running businesses in Finland and Western Europe. The course, held in Helsinki, was just one of a series of conferences, workshops and hackathons organized by Techfugees, a nonprofit social enterprise that describes itself as “a tech community response to the needs of refugees.”
About 250 miles away in Stockholm, Johan Engstrom founded Sync Accelerator, a private recruitment agency matching technically proficient refugees with Swedish companies that need their skills. (Think of Sync Accelerator as a sort of Swedish LinkedIn that’s focused exclusively on integrating highly educated newly arrived refugees into the Swedish labor market.)