Tech hubs for refugees and host community women in Moldova

Linking refugee and host community women to digital employment through an innovative multi-sector consortium (social entrepreneurship, NGOs, university).
Good Practices

Tech hubs for refugees and host community women in Moldova

Linking refugee and host community women to digital employment through an innovative multi-sector consortium (social entrepreneurship, NGOs, university).

The project in brief

The project was implemented by War Child Alliance in Moldova. It began in March 2023 and ended in December 2023. 

Drawing on War Child’s good practice “tech hubs”, Copil Comunitate Familie (CCF Moldova) in partnership with social entrepreneurship Humans in the Loop and the Free University of Moldova delivered a tech hub for refugee and host community women. The pilot cohort included Ukrainian women, Moldovan women, and stateless persons. Leveraging an innovative multi-sector consortium, women gained vocational training, linkages to employment online, with a strong safeguarding focus and inclusivity lens to ensure women’s full participation. 

The tech hub aimed to provide women with vocational skills that would enable them to find employment online, in response to (a) a lack of demand in the Moldovan market that leads to unemployment; (b) women shouldering domestic labour and thus having barriers to finding employment outside the home. The second objective of the tech hub was to link women to digital employment providers via the partnership with the social entrepreneurship.

An unexpected outcome was that women grew in self-confidence through (a) association with a typically male-dominated STEM vocation; (b) association with a prestigious higher education institution.

Main activities of the Good Practice

  1. Training package that included following modules: Intro to IT; English for Coding; Specialist Vocational Skill (Digital Annotation); Cybersecurity Module
  2. In-person mentorship 3 days a week; online mentorship 5 days a week (allowing participants to choose whether they can attend online or in-person)
  3. Provision of accommodation near the university for participants to attend in-person if they live far away
  4. Supervision by CCF and the Dean of Social Services of ULIM to ensure a strong safeguarding lens and accessibility

Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice

We found that the multi-sectoral consortium was crucial to the success of the project. ULIM provided the space and access to the prestige of a major Moldovan university; Humans in the Loop - as a social entrepreneurship - provided access to employment opportunities; War Child provided a global perspective on "tech hubs" following a previous pilot in DR Congo; and CCF, as the consortium lead, was ensured a strong safeguarding and accessibility lens gained through its core work of working with vulnerable women.

During the implementation of the project, discussion on ethical practices in AI suddenly bubbled over into the mainstream media, including on how AI can privilege certain cultures and ethnicities, resulting in dangerous gaps. This meant that our tech hub was a very timely intervention by including marginalised voices on the discussion of AI, especially through the inclusion of Humans in the Loop, whose objective is to include a "human in the loop" to ensure that AI upholds the strongest ethical standards.

A discussion point raised in FGDs with participants was whether the two-month training programme could have been longer or shorter. All participants across all nationalities stated that they liked the compressed nature of the course as it allowed them to concentrate for two months and to fully dedicate themselves to the course.

Partners involved

What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?


Though a baseline exam was administered in order to place participants in different groups, the exams did not prove an entirely accurate measure of ability as some participants used online resources, and furthermore participants’ skills varied considerably within the two groups even after setting. 

How they were overcome

Fortunately, the self-paced materials of the course and the one-to-one support provided by university staff was an effective mitigation strategy, enabling participants to manage their learning at a pace suitable to them. In FGDs, participants did not report that the level of the course had been either too difficult or too easy, and in the anonymous sticky notes feedback provided at the end of each day, the most repeated theme was thanking the ULIM staff for their hands-on support during the self-paced learning.

Results of the Good Practice

  • Women gained access to professional networks for finding digital employment, and built a new vocational skill rapidly.
  • Even where women chose not to practice their learned vocational skill (digital employment), they were able to capitalise off the prestige of the training for finding jobs in other sectors.
  • Vocational training in particular built participants’ confidence, especially through association with higher education and/or STEM.
  • Ukrainian participants found good friends and new social networks amongst Moldovan participants.

In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

Moldova is hosting many refugees with lower resources,. This project aims at linking participants to global employment opportunities to expand their opportunities and ease pressure on the Moldovan labour market.  

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

Many Ukrainian refugee households in Moldova are female-headed. These households are more likely to suffer from unemployment as women already have significant domestic responsibilities, including continuing their children's Ukranian education (via remote education opportunities). The project therefore aims at building self-reliance by proving women with remote employment. 

Next steps

Activities for Phase 2 have already been identified: 

  1. Financial inclusion activities to ensure participants can save and spend their income safely and discretely.
  2. Fuller safe usage of the internet training to mitigate risks, such as fraud, bullying and/or harassment, or exposure to harmful materials.
  3. Labour law training and guidance on participants' rights and obligations as freelancers and/or employers.
  4. Providing more vocational skills training to allow for a more diversified skill-set and ensure greater resilience to market.

Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?

More partnerships with social entrepreneurships are needed to absorb the greater number of participants who would be generated as a result of future trainings. These partnerships would provide training on more diversified skills (not just digital annotation) and would also direct participants to employment opportunities. 

Submitted by

Tiara Sahar Ataii, Global Economic Resilience Advisor, War Child Alliance - [email protected]