Saint-Denis, France

Closing the Opportunity Gap for Immigrant Youth

Mozaïk RH

December 2, 2014

Closing the opportunity gap between talented youth and employers through recruitment services and corporate diversity training

The dream of any social entrepreneur is to create a profitable business while having a tangible social impact. Mozaïk RH is the first French recruitment agency and HR consulting non-profit specializing in the promotion of equal opportunities and diversity. And Saïd Hammouche, has accomplished what many social entrepreneurs only dream of: creating a thriving business with documented social return on investment.


While many jobs go unfilled in France, youth from poor and marginalized neighbourhoods remain un- or underemployed. Their potential goes unfulfilled and unrecognized and, with it, the country’s potential.

Unfair Bias is Bad Business

Gabriel Lenot, Head of Apprenticeship and Internship at Mozaïk RH, comments:  “What is worse is that we mistrust these neighborhoods, even though they represent the future. For instance, the youngest département in France is Seine Saint-Denis which comprises the second-largest university network in the Ile-de-France region, with 60,000 students. In 20 years, its inhabitants will be an important source of our energy. Today, however, the young people who live there – the most mixed population in the whole of France – are burdened by an unemployment rate representing twice the national average.”

Young people from these areas take up to 18 months longer than the national average to find a job, and when they do, it is often well below the level of their abilities. Their applications are rejected nearly 4 times out of 5. Even the jobs they have access to are well below the level for which they are qualified. According to Lenot, the problem is clear: “Discrimination remains excessive.”

Saïd Hammouche, Mozaïk RH founder and an Ashoka Changemaker, chose to see this troubling situation as an opportunity. He created Mozaïk RH to close the opportunity gap and fight discrimination by promoting diversity and bringing talented professionals from marginalized social groups to corporate employers.

Closing the Opportunity Gap

For Mozaïk RH this waste of human potential is a lost opportunity needing a practical solution. So they created a business model that identifies talented young people and helps them develop employability skills while working to create a demand for them in the labour market. Very simply, Mozaïk RH matches graduates from low-income neighbourhoods with employers. But, its mission and work go well beyond a simple recruitment service for corporate clients.

Mozaïk RH recognizes that its candidates are actively discriminated against when applying for jobs, “because of their social or cultural background, or on criteria related to gender, disability or age.”  To overcome these barriers, Mozaïk RH works with partner companies not only to provide good candidates but also to help employers recognize the potential of the new hires. To ensure this happens, Mozaïk works with partner companies to build capacity to better manage diversity.  Mozaïk RH provides a suite of services to employers, including training, action plan and policy development and day-to-day support of diversity-related HR needs. They offer client companies HR consulting to actively promote the employment of overlooked groups, and become champions ready and willing to address inequality and discrimination in the workplace.

Mozaïk builds the bridge between traditionally overlooked talent from low-income/immigrant communities and employers that would benefit from the skill sets and mindsets of many of these talented individuals. Employers find that when they hire frequently overlooked talent their new hires are generally highly motivated to have impact and also to prove that they merited the risk of hiring them.”

Mozaïk RH maintains a carefully selected database of 75,000 potential candidates for employers. Bu connecting youth to employment is only part of the equation. Mozaïk RH doesn’t leave these critical connections to chance. Relationships with both candidates and companies are closely followed and managed. Candidates receive training, workshops, coaching and the supports they need to find work. Companies receive support and advice before, during and after the recruitment process. Mozaïk RH works to ensure that candidates are ready and that companies see and value them. “[E]ach of its activities is designed to change the misconceptions and prejudices that influence recruitment.”

The return of their investment is high. Mozaïk RH has reduced “the time of unemployment of the candidates from these underprivileged areas from 18 months to 6 months.

Scaling up for success

A good social entrepreneur sees value in building relationships with partners, and even competitors. Partnering with Adecco, one of the world’s largest HR management firms, allows Mozaïk to scale up their potential impact. In six years, Mozaïk has placed 2500 candidates into jobs. With Adecco’s help, they look to double that number in a shorter time. At the same time, Adecco, which lacked expertise working with diversity and at-risk youth, has become better at responding to increasing corporate demand for diversity hiring. Both organizations gain. But, most importantly, Mozaïk RH’s youth candidates gain access to more job opportunities and a greater share in shaping their future.

According to Ashoka, social entrepreneur changemakers like Saïd Hammouche “are redefining standards of how people present their skills and how employers find and vet talent.” As a result of Mozaïk RH’s efforts, “Employers find that when they hire frequently overlooked changemaker talent their new hires are generally highly motivated to have impact and also to prove that they merited the risk of hiring them.”

This social entrepreneur has truly become a changemaker.

Making it Work for You:

  • Look for the opportunity gap instead of the barrier. Where skill and talent are hidden, a fresh perspective and approach can bring innovation, hope and positive impact.
  • Services to marginalized groups need to work equally with mainstream populations and institutions to eradicate artificial barriers to employment.
  • Social entrepreneurship needs a long-term view. While good ideas may have immediate impact, scaling it up requires strategic partnerships and community investments.
  • Working with marginalized groups means believing in them and providing them with the supports and opportunities necessary for them to succeed and demonstrate their talents, free of bias.