Rafael Alvarez shares Genesys Works model with social entrepreneurs in Colombia

Colombia’s Social Marketplace is an annual event that brings together members of the social enterprise market with the purpose of highlighting the tools and allies needed to design and execute relevant, sustainable and high-impact social interventions aligned with business. The Social Marketplace was formed out of the country’s pursuit of a more inclusive society by creating new jobs and promoting education and wellbeing. Genesys Works CEO and Founder Rafael Alvarez was invited to give the keynote at the third annual conference in Bogota. Rafael spoke to participants about the Genesys Works model, which connects businesses to youth from underserved communities as an example of how to fill the talent pipeline.

 

PORTAFOLIO  | POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 20, 2017

Read in Portafolio here. (Spanish version)

Companies should hire more marginalized youth

Rafael Álvarez, CEO of Genesys Works, talks about the philosophy of his organization and explains how he connects this population with the world of work.

"We are not accustomed to think that young people who have grown up with great economic and educational barriers are able to efficiently perform all the functions we assign them." With this approach, Rafael Álvarez, explains the results of the work of Genesys Works.

This organization helps and trains vulnerable young people to enter the world of work. The experience will be presented at the III Market Place Social of the Andi Foundation, which will be held next week in Bogotá.

What is Genesys Works?

It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the careers of young people from vulnerable populations. Through this experience, they realize that it is possible to excel at the corporate level and, at the same time, companies find that these people are able to provide the services they require. Genesys Works has its headquarters in Houston and has work programs in seven cities in the United States.

How does the model work?

We identify the services that companies need and that could be performed by young people with short training time. For example, in computers or accounting. We recruit them directly in their schools and after a selection, those who are admitted go through an 8-week training.
At the same time, we get contracts with firms, usually large ones, so that they can provide those services. Usually, a new client initiates this process with a commitment to link two to four of these people. When they finish their training, the teens are hired by Genesys Works, and assigned to work in the companies with whom we have partnerships.

How does the organization work?

It functions as a regular service firm and officially it is through it that we employ young people. We charge companies a fixed amount per hour worked, and we pay the interns directly. In this way, we can react quickly to the needs of organizations and at the same time, it allows us to offer more jobs to more young people.

In addition, during the internship, Genesys Works staff is assigned to young people to provide them with counseling to support them in the decision-making process they face during their senior year of high school.

How many companies and young people have benefited?

This year we have more than 200 partner companies in which 800 young people of vulnerable population work. With this work and throughout our history, more than 4,000 young people have benefited.

How does it help bridge the gap between employment education and vulnerable youth?

In general, human resource professionals, who in the companies are responsible for finding, hiring and recruiting personnel, do not think about filling the vacancies they require with people of vulnerable population. We are not accustomed to think that young people who have grown up with great economic and educational barriers are able to perform efficiently all the functions we assign them.

In addition, it is no secret that companies around the world have great difficulty finding and retaining the staff they need.

How could this be replicated in Colombia?

Well, that will depend on the attitude and commitment that companies have to solve the problem of large-scale employability with vulnerable populations.

We have shown that the model works and that marginalized youth can provide them with valuable services. We would be very happy if organizations in other countries could replicate this exercise. In order to operate successfully in Colombia it would be necessary to take into account several aspects. First, have an organization that is willing to act as the bridge between young people and companies.

It is necessary to have a group of companies that is committed to providing job opportunities, as well as an organization, government, or people who contribute resources and facilitate the infrastructure to train them.


What message do you bring in the third edition of Market Place Social?

Colombia has already shown the world what it is capable of and has earned respect and admiration. However, there is still much to be done, and undoubtedly the marginalized young people are able to contribute to the country, far more than they have been allowed up until now. It is time for Colombia to build these bridges that link big companies with these people who will be the future.

What would be your message to the private sector?

When I started Genesys Works in the United States 15 years ago, people thought the model was not going to work because it was going to be unlikely companies would change their thinking.

My message to the private sector in Colombia is that it worked in the US and there is no reason why it should not work in this country as well. They do not have to decide between what is good for the company or what is good for the youth or for Colombia.

Using our model, they can have an impact on all participants and contribute to economic development.

***
This story was produced by Portafolio | News of economy and business in Colombia and the World