Local academies that deliver quality coding & digital skills for youth inclusion & employment as well as a catalyst for social innovation



There are now over 2.3 million refugees living in Lebanon, the influx has significantly grown since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Youth is a large proportion of those displaced, creating tension in spots across all levels of education and causing higher education to be high demand and expensive.

Concurrently, the ICT sector in Lebanon is growing at over 8% CAGR over 4 years and thousands of developers are being hired in Beirut and Mt. Lebanon. Demand for skilled human capital for programing is strong.

Codi is launching the first of several academies offering a free and intensive 6-month programme for exceptionally talented, yet marginalized youth to become web/mobile developers, data scientists, digital project managers, etc. which are in high demand. Our mission is to use coding / digital skills as a leverage for not only inclusion and employment, but also as a catalyst for social innovation and diversity.

This programme, certified by (a proven platform), is open to all but primarily targets youth under 25 years of age, who are not currently employed, with little to no academic background, and otherwise marginalised from society, incl. refugees. No foundation in computer science or prior digital skills is required. What we do ask for is a strong motivation, a passion for all things digital and an appetite to work in teams.

The majority of the curriculum focuses on technical and digital skills (e.g. coding, web development, data management, cyber security) but also includes English classes along with life skills (e.g. communication, CV writing, interviewing, entrepreneurship, industry discovery workshops, motivational talks, networking events).

We deliver and ensure quality of education by employing trainers on the ground at our schools along with a proven content platform to maximize chances of success for our students, who will develop not only coding skills but also have a foundation to become future innovation leaders and influencers.

What are the key outcomes and impact of your solution?

Economic Impact

  1. Decreasing youth unemployment, especially with those lacking opportunities but possessing great talent and motivation

  2. Increasing human resource capital in coding and web development to cater for high and rising skill demand across sectors in the country (both for established Lebanese firms and the growing start-up ecosystem)

  3. Strong and sustainable income for otherwise low income individuals

Social Impact - at the heart of the programme also lies a set of social missions which the academy will advocate for:

  1. Addressing the stigma and exclusion associated towards refugee populations by turning the refugee crisis into an opportunity for growth for the Lebanese economy

  2. Debugging the gender gap in technology through women’s empowerment

Codi will launch a pilot cohort of 24-26 students in March 2017. We aim to open 2 new locations early 2018, making 100 beneficiaries by the end of 2018, then further scaling across the Middle East. Following Simplon's track record, we aim to have 80% of our students hired within 3 months and 100% within 6 months.

What actions do you propose to realize your stated goals?

Our strategy is to leverage and localize a proven training model (, prove success through an initial pilot, then scale to other locations of high demand. 

To deliver a quality solution with maximum impact for the local demographic and to meet skill demands, we initially conducted national market research with over 80 companies on hiring needs of digital talent today, revealing insights which helped customize our programme and post-training employment plans (e.g. types of coding language, company hiring contacts and demand, etc.).

Furthermore, we decided to combine skilled trainers on the ground with a proven content platform to ensure delivery of a level of quality that is difficult using online-only platforms.

Technology challenges

  1. Near monopoly telecoms significantly limit access to internet, thus limiting online education capabilities - we address this with on the ground trainers and staff with consistent software
  2. Training equipment (e.g. laptops) poses challenges in importing hardware into Lebanon due to customs regulations and international sanctions, thus we are targeting in-country sourcing / donations as a priority


Political challenges

  1. International sanctions on Lebanon limit opportunities to secure sponsorship / donations / support, thus we must focus on specific sponsors such as the international Lebanese diaspora and businesses with strategic interests in Lebanon
  2. There is a 5 Year Plan being built at the moment and changes in legislation, amidst high levels of political corruption; the development of a local network is important to ensure success of Codi


Economic challenges

  1. We have successfully raised support to cover programme setup costs from philanthropic donations and grants
  2. We estimate each student will cost $2,000-3,000 to be fully trained and placed in employment
  3. We are also developing streams of revenue generating activity to sustain the programme beyond grants (Simplon as well is mainly grant based)


Today, our main is focus is on the delivery of a successful pilot cohort as well as fundraising to support the initial pilot program, both of which are critical to our success. 

Who will take these actions?

Core Team

  • Hortense Decaux (Founder) - After spending 4 years at the Boston Consulting Group, Hortense now dedicates her time to launching Codi and running a pan-European charity focused on supporting UNICEF to help children in emergencies through fundraising and lobbying
  • Sean Cheng - Currently leads the Global Shapers Boston Hub of the World Economic Forum, Sean also serves as a strategy advisor to the leadership of Royal Philips. Previously, he was a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and holds an engineering PhD from Cambridge University
  • 2 full-time local directors covering Recruiting & HR, Non-Coding Curriculum, English, Operations, Finance, IT, and Growth
  • 2 experienced trainers covering the coding skills programme
  • Community of external trainers (public and private sectors) delivering pro-bono trainings (see Delivery & Content Partners)


Recruiting Partners - we are working with different partners to source / recruit students:

  • Local NGOs with significant reach (e.g. Arc en Ciel, ULYP, Teach for Lebanon)
  • Secondary Public Schools (around different target municipalities)


Delivery & Content Partners - is our main curriculum partner for the programme (for all coding and core digital training). We also have other delivery partners for the programme (both public and private sectors); main areas include:

  • Personality & Career  
  • Project Management  
  • Communication & Personal Brand
  • Financial Literacy
  • Introduction to Entrepreneurship  
  • Cyber Ethics
  • UX


Employment Partners

  • Codi is also working with the local ecosystem to help place their students into employment after the end of the cohort (methodologies of recruitment to be discussed with Simplon). So far, several companies (big and small) have expressed interest to work with us for hiring junior developers. 

Target geography

Our pilot will take place in Beirut (March 2017) with other priority locations to follow including North Lebanon (Tripoli) and Bekaa Valley (home to most Syrian refugees). In the mid term, we aim to expand across Levant areas and Gulf states.  

What do you expect are the costs associated with piloting and implementing the solution, and what is your business model?

We are currently structured as an NGO in Lebanon leveraging grants and donations to launch (including donations from the Lebanese expat / diaspora community). We are also developing streams of revenue to sustain the programme at steady state, including fees from hiring agencies as well as student pledges as % of hired salary.

To date, we have raised over We are currently structured as an NGO in Lebanon leveraging grants and donations to launch (including donations from the Lebanese expat / diaspora community). We are also developing streams of revenue to sustain the programme at steady state, including fees from hiring agencies as well as student pledges as % of hired salary.

To date, we have raised enough funds to cover setup costs and continue to raise additional support to launch our pilot from philanthropic donations and grants. We estimate the cost to be $2,000 - $3,000 per student for training and employer placement.


Codi was founded in March 2016 by Hortense Decaux, who built the current strategy with full-time operations launching in Sept 2016.

Codi will launch our pilot of 24-26 students in March 2017. We aim to open 2 new locations early 2018, making 100 beneficiaries by the end of 2018.

Related solutions

HOPE U (potential partner for trainer preparation) 

Leveler (potential partner for student applicant screening)

Salifa (potential partner for local customized curriculum/content development) 

EdSeed (potential channel to source donations)


  1. social impact figures to date 
  2. Coding against youth unemployment (French)
  3. ICT could create up to 25,00 Jobs by 2025
  4. Growth in ICT Sector in Lebanon
  5. Thriving Tech Scene in Beirut


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Solution Summary
Codi - digital skills and leadership training for marginalized and refugee youth
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By:  Team Codi
Challenge: Learn: Refugee Education
How can we improve learning outcomes for refugee and displaced young people under 24?