Language-learning platform Chatterbox raises €1.7 million to expand services for refugees and marginalised groups

Chatterbox is on a mission to shake things up in the labour market by connecting marginalised talent with opportunities in the digital economy. The impact-driven startup has just raised over €1.7 million in an investment led by GMG Ventures, with investment from Phil Libin’s All Turtle, to connect businesses to the huge wealth of talent in refugee and marginalised communities. 

Chatterbox was founded in 2016 by Afghani refugee Mursal Hedayat MBE and co-founder Guillemette Dejean as a refugee-powered online language learning platform for professionals. Currently, it operates out of London and Lisbon. Mursal Hedayat developed the platform in response to the Syrian war and based on her own mother’s experience of struggling to find highly-skilled work in the UK when the family moved from Afghanistan.

Chatterbox initially started out as an online language learning school to help Syrian refugees earn a living by teaching Arabic to professionals looking to improve their language skills but has since grown to encompass other refugee and marginalised groups – with a proven track record of increasing team cultural intelligence, morale and engagement. 

Mursal Hedayat, Founder & CEO of Chatterbox, said: “As we’re seeing from the Ukrainian crisis, unfortunately, we live in a world where mass displacement of talented people from war, famine and even climate change is increasingly commonplace. Whether it’s single parents, disabled workers or even refugees – this funding will help us further our mission of helping businesses engage with this amazing pool of marginalised talent, especially as the pandemic accelerates the shift towards globally distributed and remote-first firms.”

According to the UK government, advertised tech vacancies have more than doubled since 2020 – hitting a record 160,887 in recent months. As tech firms struggle with The Great Resignation and the ‘war for talent’, Chatterbox hopes to help them tap the estimated 40 million degree-educated professionals currently living across OECD countries who are either long-term unemployed or underemployed. These are often professionals from marginalised groups including single parents, older workers and refugees – which have risen dramatically in recent years following successive conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and more recently, Ukraine. 

Having established a renowned client roster including Unilever, FTI Consulting and the British Red Cross, Chatterbox will now use the funding to develop its ‘diversity as a service’ offering with new products and services. The remote-first startup is currently making strategic hires across product development, learning, sales and marketing.

The edtech company, which emerged from Brent Hoberman’s Founders Factory accelerator programme, received the pre-seed investment from operators at Not On The Highstreet and Goldman Sachs, Guardian Media Group Ventures, Mustard Seed Maze, RLC Ventures, and Softbank. 

Sam Rickard, Director at GMG Ventures said: “Chatterbox enables businesses to access a valuable pool of talent, creating employment opportunities for refugees and other marginalised communities. We have been following the team’s progress since our first meeting in early 2019 and we are excited to support them through the next stage of their growth.”