Posts tagged refugee employment
Our Big Idea about Small Business

Lately, we’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of business....what a revelation it has been to discover how nearly every aspect of a small business—from capital to product—can serve a higher purpose. We’ve started calling this intention to repurpose every component of a small business our Big Idea

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Invitation from Beautiful Day

We've launched our website, which, according to the 21st century, means we actually exist.

So we hope you'll celebrate our existence by stopping in at and learn about our efforts to mobilize refugee employment. Ultimately we hope to develop a replicable community-based model that could enable people who face incredible barriers to employment to find work.

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Et Tu Fruite? (Or is your Father?)

Ingredients:  Oats (org), honey (pesticide-free from Aquidneckhoney), canola oil (org), granulated cane juice, coconut (org), sesame seeds (org), barley (org), almonds, cherries, apples, peaches, blueberries, nectarines, plums, pears (some fruit contains sulphur dioxide and potassium sorbate), oat bran (org), wheat germ, pecans, sunflower seeds (org), flax seeds (org), walnuts, oat fiber, sea salt, cinnamon, almond ext., vanilla, rum, nutmeg.

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She's back; she's almost gone

Job opportunities for people who lack English, literacy, and are strangers to American culture and job market expectations are not plentiful, especially during a recession.  Even with wonderful job placement and education services for newly-arrived refugees, few businesses have a vision to employ or accommodate these needs.  Recognizing this gap gave Ben and Keith an idea:  what if Rhode Island’s great need—job creation—could align with refugees’ needs?  Then perhaps the most efficient way to make a positive difference would be to start businesses that hired refugees. 

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Beautiful Day in Rhode Island

One of our motivating convictions is that work is far more than a paycheck, but rather a vital expression of being human, of having and using gifts. If this is true, then motivated people who desperately want to work (such as refugees) should have access to work as a basic need or right. For someone who has never worked in the US, the first step is any work; a foot in the door of the job-market. A secondary step is meaningful work, which is why we’re so interested in business incubation.

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Little Company, Big News, plus "Why Refugees?" (part 3)

While we are the tiniest of companies, we are increasingly confident that we’re pioneering an effective and efficient model for improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our country. And if we can figure out how to do this, we could enable other communities serving refugees to adapt or replicate our efforts. Little steps towards big goals. For our fans spread out around the country and the globe, maybe someday you’ll find refugee-made granola at your local farmer’s market.

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Why refugees?

A few facts: Around 8,000 refugees have been settled in Rhode Island since 1983. Up until 2005 these came from (by population size in descending order) USSR, Liberia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hungary, Poland, Albania, former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Ethiopia/Eritrea. This is one of the great things about living in Providence. Even if you don’t have the money to travel the world, you still don’t have to live in a cocoon. The world is right here.

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Announcing our New Web Site

We’ve been silent for a couple weeks… but here’s our big news: this morning we finally launched our new website at


So please come visit. Scout around. Learn more about our mission and the refugees who work with us. Find out where you can buy granola. Check out the pictures, blog archives, and links to interesting places. Read some very nice articles written about us. See if you can find our brand spanking new Ginger Zinger label (thank you Becky Joy). Follow us on Twitter if you’re so inclined; sign up to be on our email list (if you’re not already). So much to do, so little time.

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Out of the Rain

This is also an even longer way of reminding you that Providence Granola is at the ready to service all your granola needs.We’re very busy, but eager to be even busier.The web store is open. A Granola of the Month subscription, in particular, is a one-of-a kind gift that can keep nourishing and delighting year round.

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Eight cylinders (and a baby)

I made my calls to Triple A and my garage, and then sat there thinking about a guy named John Slaiger, who was a pastor (now-retired) who lived and worked in South Providence. My wife and I used to (yes, a long time ago) bring groups of Brown students for immersion experiences in South Providence.  We’d sleep in the basement of John’s church and participate in various soup kitchens and building projects during the day.In the evenings we’d play cards and talk about what we were learning and John would always find a scrap of paper and teach us his “8-cylinder model” for understanding poverty.

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Creepy, Dark, Tasty

It’s always a big deal when a new employee starts.For me it’s a refreshing reminder of the importance and practicality of our mission.For him—well, it’s his first job in America, which is a bigger deal than most of us can imagine.I have no doubt he’ll show up, map or not.He’ll probably be a couple hours early.And for the rest of our staff, particularly our manager, who needs to train and guide him without any shared language or expectations in common, it’s a challenge.One that, as a refugee herself, she is amazingly good at.

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"Thank you for you!"

So far, with your help, the Providence Granola Project has paid about $9,000 in salaries this year and provided approximately 1,000 hours of job experience/training for new refugees.This on top of the fact that 5 out of 6 of our refugee employees have gone on to “real” jobs.When I compare this to the some of the Department of Human Service programs (that I help refugees access in my day job) it’s not bad at all.It wouldn’t be abnormal for the state to pay nearly $4,000 to provide an initial job training/experience for one welfare client—and this comes with no guarantees for further employment.So one way to assess the value provided by PGP this year (beyond the $9,000) is about $24,000.I think that’s pretty good.

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Two Introductions

 Saw Kay, a refugee originally from Myanmar (Burma), arrived in Providence about 4 months ago along with his wife and 5 children after spending years in a camp in Thailand. Saw and his wife Sa Nay are Karen—one of the ethnic minority groups who have been persecuted for years by Burma’s military government. Aside from one other family who arrived with them, they are—if you can imagine this!—the


speakers of a language called Karen Sgaw in the state of Rhode Island.

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