Engaging for Refugees in Europe, Middle East and Africa: Learnings from the SAP Experience

20-minute Spotlight Sessions

Day 3

Session Code: Spotlight
When: April 18, 2019
Level: Intermediate
Track: Global Diversity
Presenter: Miguel Castro, SAP


The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) defines a refugee as “someone who has been forced to flee their own country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.” The 2015 refugee crisis displaced more than 65 million refugees from war or conflict-struck countries. One million sought refuge in Germany alone. But for European host nations, accepting refugees is just the tip of the iceberg. The integration into everyday life is the actual challenge, including adapting to a new culture and pursuing a fulfilled working life.

The purpose of SAP is to help the world run better and improve people’s live. For this reason, SAP’s executive board mobilized the company to take a very active role in this refugee crisis. In Germany, SAP’s “Engaging for Refugees: Integration via Employment and Education” was launched with the goal to help refugees compete in the German job market with a level of training comparable to native applicants and thereby securing financial independence through successful careers. The idea of providing internships and vocational trainings exclusively for refugees was born, opening options for long-term employment where applicable.

These activities have been going on since 2016. But activities to help with the inclusion of refugees are not only possible in Europe and other Western regions. SAP has also been engaging with refugees in the Middle East and in Africa. Refugee Code Week is an initiative sponsored by SAP in collaboration with the UNHCR and Galway Education Center. The aim of the project is to introduce refugees in the Middle East to the basics of computer programming, with courses that were initially held in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey, training thousands of people. After all, the IT industry in this region needs highly trained specialists to drive digital transformation and help secure the region’s long-term economic growth. Saudi Arabia alone already had a shortfall of some 30,000 IT professionals in 2016. Meanwhile, it was also estimated that businesses and governments would invest around $260 billion in IT in the Middle East and Africa.

All these initiatives have had a great impact, not only in the refugee community, but also in the overall employee engagement in SAP. Join this session to learn how.

Learning Outcomes
  1. Learn how the refugee community can become part of and contribute to an economy through corporations
  2. Explore how companies can support the refugee community in the Middle East and Africa
  3. Discover how refugees help further develop employee engagement throughout an organization


For more resources, visit:


The Forum on Workplace Inclusion®
2211 Riverside Ave, CB 54
Minneapolis, MN 55454
(612) 373-5994

Photos by Sarah Morreim Photography
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