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Refugee enterprise learning platform Chatterbox raises £1.5m

Guillemette Dejean, Mursal Hedayat chatterbox

Chatterbox, an online language learning platform that connects refugees and marginalised groups with businesses, has raised £1.5m in a pre-seed funding round.

Chatterbox will use the funding to develop new products and services, as well as hiring employees in product development, learning, sales and marketing.

GMG Ventures led the Chatterbox funding round, with additional investment coming from Phil Libin’s All Turtles, Mustard Seed Maze, RLC Ventures and SoftBank.

London and Lisbon-based Chatterbox was founded in 2016 by Afghani refugee Mursal Hedayat MBE and Y Combinator alumna Guillemette Dejean out of the Founders Factory accelerator programme.

Chatterbox’s first product was created after Hedayat’s mother struggled to find highly skilled work after they moved to the UK from Afghanistan.

Initially, Chatterbox started as an online language school for Syrian refugees to earn money from teaching Arabic. Since then, Chatterbox has expanded the service to include more refugee and marginalised groups.

The platform combines artificial intelligence-powered self-study with human coaching. It counts the likes of Unilever and the British Red Cross among its clients.

“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,” said Hedayat.

The Chatterbox CEO and founder added: “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.”

The UK Government has estimated that tech job listings have more than doubled since 2020. Chatterbox hopes to help with The Great Resignation, by allowing tech companies access to an estimated 40 million degree-educated people in OECD countries who are unemployed or underemployed.

In December 2019 Chatterbox raised £230,000 in an angel investor round.