DUO for a JOB

Where: Brussels, Belgium

When: I met Matthieu in Ulanbator, Mongolia at the end of November when we were staying in the same guesthouse and went on a trip into the surrounding national parks and steppe together. DUO for a JOB started in Nov 2012.

Who: Matthieu is one of two co-founders of DUO for a JOB; he started working there full-time with a friend after working for the International Committee for the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) for a number of years, investigating the prison facilities in conflict areas to check compliance with international standards, amongst other things.

What: DUO for a JOB matches up early retirees in the Brussels area of Belgium with recent immigrants to the country who are looking for jobs. They support them in their job search, improve their language skills (FR, ENG, NL), help them with writing their CVs, share their networks and provide interview practice. The matching process is very involved to ensure both parties are happy before they proceed. The mentoring relationship lasts for 6 months formally but many of those paired continue on beyond.

Why: The idea came from finding a way to solve two distinct problems simultaneously – 1) assisting new immigrants to find work and integrate into Belgian society effectively, and 2) helping early retirees make the transition from employment into retirement, addressing the issue of a lack of activities for people of retirement age to get involved in and maintain active purposeful lives. It is also hoped these partnerships help to reduce prejudices and help to ensure a fully integrated cohesive Belgian society.


The first ‘duos’ were matched in September 2013. Since then, there have been 85 ‘duos’, and 115 mentors who have registered for the program.

In normal circumstances, amongst their target population, 35% find a job within 12 months. Those part of DUO for a JOB have a success rate of 40% within 6 months (so they are doing twice as well). 40% more register to join a training or university class. Therefore they estimate they have an 80% success rate if taking both, in addition to the other criteria: gain in autonomy, self confidence, social integration etc).

DUO for a JOB measure success in two ways:
– an evaluation form filled in by mentors and mentees, in order for them to improve the programme
– employment rate 12 months after the 6 months of mentoring (as they see the 6 months as just a springboard)

And finally, here is a quote from Neha, a mentee from India (in photo below):

“Chantal, my mentor is someone who allows me to see the potential inside myself. She has inspired me to pursue my goals with hard work and dedication. The knowledge and wisdom she has imparted upon me has a great help and support. I truly appreciate and value everything I have learned from her.”

More info: duoforajob.be or www.facebook.com/duoforajob

Personal reflections: Seriously inspiring! Even when I was in the Mongolian steppe and not expecting to learn about social innovations I still did! Matthieu is so passionate about what he is doing and his stories from his previous work opened my eyes to things I never gave time to listen to before. I guess it is hard to listen to and learn about because some of the things some people have to go through are so distressing and shocking. Anyway, probably the MOST inspiring thing to hear was how he has translated those experiences from conflict areas into something so positive back in the place where he is from.


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