EMPA student wins competition, cited in Forbes 30 under 30 for refugee jobs programme

Lisa-Maria Sommer is co-founder of Austrian social business MTOP, matching refugees with employers.

Hertie School Executive MPA student Lisa-Maria Sommer and co-founder of the refugee jobs programme More Than One Perspective (MTOP) was one of five winners in a business start-up competition hosted by the non-profit MIT Enterprise Forum in Amman, Jordan. She and a co-founder have also been listed in the 2018 Forbes 30 under 30 in law and policy.  

The second Innovate for Refugees competition, sponsored by the non-profit which is affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology through the MIT Technology Review, drew projects from around the world that aim to improve the lives of refugees. "After a 2-day workshop and a first round of pitching, we were among the 10 finalists," Lisa-Maria said. "We are very proud that we were then ranked among the 5 winners in the finals."

The Vienna-based social business MTOP, founded in 2016, aims to connect highly skilled refugees with companies and demonstrate the potential of diverse integration in the workplace. It offers an advanced training programme, with workshops, training and mentoring to prepare highly qualified refugees to enter the labour market in Austria. Forbes magazine cited the company for "challenging anti-refugee sentiment in Austria by showing the positive impact that refugees have on business," and featured Lisa-Maria and a co-founder among its 2018 list of under-30s to watch.  

"We enable refugees to find work suited to their skills, knowledge and experience," Lisa-Maria said. "This also helps employers to find talent and increases the diversity of their staff."  

Lisa-Maria previously was an analyst at Erste Group AG and a fellow at Teach for Austria and she studied psychology at the University of Vienna and holds a bachelor's in economics from the Vienna University of Economics and Business. She will graduate from the Executive MPA programme at the Hertie School in 2019.