The global refugee and migrant crisis has displaced more than 60 million people around the world, with many attempting to seek refuge in nearby Europe. Globally, about 40,000 people are forced to leave their homes every single day, and although many have moved to Northern European countries like Austria, they are unable to find work because of barriers in language, customs, and citizenship status. It is estimated that well over 100,000 refugees are living in Austria right now. Employment opportunities and training for refugees is an important step in assisting newcomers and their families.
“Magdas” comes from the words “I like that” in German, and is an initiative that is run by the non-profit Caritas. magdas HOTEL is the first social business hotel in Austria, designed to provide opportunities for migrants that have arrived to Vienna as refugees. The hotel is a true, community-powered initiative, with over €56,000 crowdfunded to convert an elderly residence into what is now a thriving accommodation, with help from local designers from the nearby Academy of Arts. Even the hotel furnishings are donated, up-cycled, or recycled, and the hotel hosts many sustainable initiatives, including the harvesting of honey from beehives on the roof. Planeterra provided magdas with a market link to G Adventures, who send more than 1,000 travellers to stay overnight in the hotel. Just by staying the night, visitors are helping make this social enterprise a success, while growing opportunities for migrants and refugees in Europe.
magdas‘ social enterprise mission is to empower and educate refugees and migrants in the hospitality and tourism industry. The hotel provides spaces for ten newcomers to Austria with placements at the hotel, allowing them to shadow ten industry professionals. This job-shadowing and mentorship between refugees and professionals in the industry is an important part of the program, alongside Caritas’ initiatives like language lessons and other services. The idea here is that refugees will later be hired by other hotels in tourist-heavy Vienna, allowing a steady stream of refugees to learn hospitality skills at magdas.