Ramazan Salman wants to eliminate language and cultural barriers. He uses technology for social integration. DW's Manuela Kasper-Claridge talks to him in Davos about integration and its benefit for society.
DW: You've created the Ethno-Medical Center. Its motto is “Migrants helping Migrants.” What does that actually mean?
Ramazan Salman: It means that migrants have to be actors, too, when they deal with their own affairs. And if you look at the European countries, for example, you have a lot of migrants with expertise and a great potential. I think it's impossible that only the majority sees the minorities and help because this is not real capacity building. What is necessary is that the migrants themselves act as members of societies in which they live and they help, too, and they build their capacity and try to do their own affairs.
You are working in Germany, how would you describe the situation for migrants at the moment?
We have polarization. On one side, the bigger part of the society is open for the immigrants. They want to help, they open the doors, even the policy, the policymakers, the stakeholders, try to see the chance for the future. They see that a peaceful world is only possible if they can organize something peaceful with immigrants. On the other side, we have many people with too many fears. They fear that migrants take something away from them or bring costs to society.
But in reality this is not the truth. I think the development is very well at this time. We have much of a chance to create together a society, a multicultural, a diverse society and in that meaning we need migrants too, who create the world in which they live in the future with their children. And if you look at Germany, you see that migrants are investing much money in new jobs.
These are migrants who have been there for quite some time already, like Turkish migrants, for example.
My father has been in Germany for 50 years. I now have children, so we are in the third generation of immigration in Germany. Now it's the time in which we show that we are part of the society and my organization tries to bring stability to society.
Stability can be reached through access to health systems, to education, to the institutions of chance and with resources. If immigrants can take part and have access to these resources, they will create much of very good things and bring good things to society.
Could you describe the work your organization is doing a bit more?
Yes, we are identifying immigrants as high potentials. We are identifying the people who are active, who want to do something for society and for their own people, too. And then we give them an executive education.
They learn how to campaign, how to move and serve their communities. We try to multiply that and so we have what we call the "MiMi" system. It's a technology for moving the immigrant population. And this MiMi technology we created is responsible for creating capacity in the field of migration and in the communities of the immigrants and so we make them actors. We enable them to be actors.
You have a new project in Berlin. What will it be?
Yes, we are funding at this time a new hub. It's a lab for diversity and migration in which we want to create new technologies, new concepts, and new projects for making this society better through migration and diversity.
It will be a place in which the people from majority/minority come together and identify together what is to do and in which way they can do that, in which best way they can do that.
Is there a difference between what the Germans think, for example, what migrants should be doing and what the migrants think they should be doing?
Sometimes it's the case. The Germans are not doing wrong things. But sometimes they are not able to do the things, which are necessary from the perspective of the immigrants.
If you look on education for adults, they don't know how to have access to the communities, to the cross-cultural communities. And they are not able to give, for example, education in mother tongue.
They are a little bit ideological in that point. They say: “Everybody has to speak German,” which is not bad but there are other languages. Why not have education in other languages if you feel the majority has education in English. Why couldn't Turkish people have no education in Turkish? So in that case I think there is a different view on things, which have to be done.
You are attending Davos here, the World Economic Forum. Why are you here?
I want to lobby for the refugees and the immigrants and this is an amazing place in which business, policy stakeholders, sciences and civil society come together. And it's open to deal together, to work together, and to look for cooperative responsibility for the societies.
So here you are able to create things, which are normally not possible if you are in your country and look only from the perspective of a small country. Here you can share your technologies, your ideas, with people from all over the world and look where is the best practice. And so we are more sustainable when we do new things and when we do sustainable things.
Ramazan Salman is part of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. The foundation provides platforms at the regional and global level to highlight and advance models of sustainable social innovation.