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Lebanon. A platform for barrier-free employment

EoF: Stories - Samer Sfeir, Lebanese entrepreneur, created a networking site for employment supply and demand

by Maria Gaglione

published in Avvenire on 07/02/2020

An economy that does not exclude and leaves no one behind. We have repeated it a thousand times looking for an expression capable of defining the Economy of Francesco. "Surely there’s a need to re-animate the economy," wrote Pope Francis to invite young people to the meeting in Assisi, which in just over a month will see 2000 young economists and entrepreneurs from many countries around the world in the city of St. Francis.

The more we get to know these young people, the more difficult it becomes to choose which story to tell. Our eyes cross and through their words we get to know projects and skills, we glimpse talents, we get a taste of the richness of their respective cultures and languages. Courage, restlessness, action. Stories of success, sometimes failure. Teamwork, daily commitment, the desire to dare. Listening to the last ones, community involvement. The construction of a just economy, or as Samer says, an economy capable of "involving people who are cut off from everything".

We often talk about disabilities and architectural barriers. Little is said about disability and employment, though. Samer Sfeir, a Lebanese entrepreneur, has addressed it without fear. Although there are regulations in some countries for the hiring of disabled people in companies and for other activities, it is neither easy or quick to find work for people with physical or mental disabilities. "And yet," Samer points out, "every man and woman, regardless of the challenges and difficulties they face, has the right to make a contribution to the world of work, where to express themselves, to acquire and preserve their dignity and to be able to create their own economic independence.” Samer knows that first there is of all a cultural obstacle to overcome. “We launched ProAbled (from PROfessionally Able) to show that a change of mentality is possible in such a delicate and complex area. ProAbled is the main project born from shareQ, an NGO that supports social projects in Lebanon in collaboration with other organizations and companies; proabled.com is an online platform managed by a team of experts specialized in supporting people with financial difficulties or disabilities to integrate into the world of work and society, thus combining the creation of new jobs, technology and entrepreneurship. The team of experts works on two fronts. On the one hand, it supports companies and public institutions in finding the right candidates, offering coaching and training courses on job inclusion processes; on the other hand, it supports people with disabilities in job orientation and vocational training. “Innovation, listening, dedication, and prayer are the ingredients of our teamwork,” underlines Samer. “We are a small company, but since 2012, more than 750 people have received training from our organization and more than 300 people have been hired in new jobs. Our mission is to find the potential in each person and help them express it.”

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