Drink Coffee. Help Refugees.

HireChance sells delicious, impactful coffee to help refugees build their future careers.

Photo of Craig
1 1

Written by


  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Craig LaTouche

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative’s representative gender

  • Man

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • South Korea

Where are you making a difference?


Website or social media url(s)

www.hirechance.org www.twitter.com/hirechance_team www.instagram.com/hirechance www.facebook.com/hirechance www.linkedin.com/company/hirechance

When was your organisation founded?


Focus areas

  • Helping people adapt to technologies of the future
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce

Project Stage

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $50k - $100k

Organisation Type

  • Hybrid

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

Our origins can be traced back to the summer of 2018, when over 500 Yemeni asylum-seekers arrived in South Korea through the southern island of Jeju. Finding a way to empower the Yemeni asylum-seekers that were granted temporary humanitarian visas became an important objective for our CEO, Craig, at the time. The initial idea of HireChance was conceived as a mentoring program that would allow asylum-seekers to learn from local experts in Seoul in the areas of tech and language. However, operating HireChance in its original form was tough. We had planned to organise a series of Yemeni coffee mornings related to HireChance, we realised that there an opportunity to combine coffee and refugee education as a force for good.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

The problem exists that the vast majority of refugees worldwide do not have access to education, career development, and decent job opportunities. Solving it matters because 70M refugees have huge potential that is under-utilised and society cannot afford to ignore what these individuals can offer.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

HireChance, a Seoul based social enterprise, is on a quest to turn a perceived burden into an opportunity These are our steps: 
 1. Sell Direct Trade Speciality Coffee :Through direct trade, we source sustainable, ethical, and delicious single origin coffee from refugee producing regions and bring it to market through online & offline B2B and B2C channels. We’re already supplying customers such as WeWork and the Seoul Metropolitan Government. 
 2. Provide Intuitive Education For Refugees: We invest 25% of sales to transparently provide refugees with online education courses through our education partners that will provide a clear path to their career development. We focus particularly on the areas of language and tech. 
 3. Create Win-Win Empowerment : The career development of participated refugees is radically improved through education attained. Employment opportunities increase exponentially, providing a win-win scenario for refugees, employers, and society at large.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

Getting HireChance to where it is now has come from a lot of trial and error and the main learning outcome for us has been to expect uncertainty and question everything. One the first refugees we came in contact with back in 2018 was a young Yemeni man who spoke perfect English and previously studied web development - we wanted to connect him to mentors in Seoul who could help him continue his studies in web development. It was impossible due to the manual labor work refugees can do in Korea being in the countryside. However, eventually we connected him with a startup in Seoul who offered flexible working hours and now he is starting preliminary online study in Korean language and computer programming.

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

We are helping refugees and asylum seekers who have existing skills they wish to enhance or a desire to acquire new skills, with the overall goal of benefitting their future career prospects through capacity building. HireChance’s core mission is to breach the whopping gap in access to education in the refugee population around the world by providing full funded certified courses, nano-degrees, and degrees in the tech and languages. By harnessing the talent and potential of refugees, their integration into their host communities becomes a less challenging endeavor. Skills in language and tech give them a higher chance at thriving in their host communities by having formal labor market access (LMA).

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

The world of work is shifting online and refugees who use online education platforms to educate themselves on the latest skills required - particularly in the areas of tech, such as computer programming, AI development, machine learning, UX/UI design and more. Additionally, language is a key skill in gaining full LMA, so we focus on English and key regional languages.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are so many amazing organisations and startups working on refugee issues such as Natakallam, Paper Airplanes, and Coffee 1951. The beauty of HireChance is that our work complements the work of organisation such as the aforementioned and many of them are our partners. HireChance is at the intersection of coffee, education, and community and utilises each area to create synergy and lasting impact.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

In terms of coffee, over 600 people are drinking our coffee daily at venues such as WeWork & Seoul Metropolitan Government's Global Startup Center. We will be scaling that drastically during 2020. On the refugee side we're about to launch a program in April that will initially serve 100 refugees, and hope to serve 5000 within 1 year.

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

We sell our high quality roasted beans through B2C and B2B channels. Firstly, in B2B, we sell directly to co-working spaces, multinational corporations, small to medium sized companies in the Seoul Metropolitan Area. Secondly, in B2C, we'll be selling directly to consumers through both a direct purchase, subscription services, events, & festivals. Coffee is just the first of many products that can empower refugees, such as tea, cacao, craftworks etc.

10. Team

Our CEO, Craig, has an MA in International Relations from Seoul National University. 10 years experience in INGOs & creating social capital as serial entrepreneur. Our COO, Jenny, has a BA in International Studies from American University. Our CRO (Chief Refugee Officer), Elham, is a Yemeni national with an MA in Public Administration from Sunmoon University, 10 years experience with IOs such as British Council. We're looking to get into the position to recruit refugees in the future.

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Status as a migrant

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?

The strength of HireChance is in our diversity. Within South Korea, our team is a minority in terms of being migrants, having minority religions, 2/3 of our executive team being female, being from three different continents and countries. Our work is strengthened by the solidarity we have with refugees and asylum seekers across the world.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Casey Landyn

Your post is amazing and great.