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Voices of Venezuela Chat Service

Voices of Venezuela

Providing a Safe Space for Venezuelan migrants in Colombia
Cosas de Mujeres community activity. © Julia Zulver



Chat Service & Helpdesk


Tech Equalized & Art For Impact



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The Voices of Venezuela WhatsApp helpdesk provides all the information Venezuelan migrants in Colombia need, in one safe and secure place. 

Direct communication with vulnerable groups is a core strategy of Tech Equalized and Art For Impact, two sister companies who work together to provide communications, media and technology capable of improving the lives of migrants and vulnerable groups. This is done by reducing barriers to information, services and resources and bettering people’s connection to local organisations and available social support mechanisms, improving their likelihood of success. 

Voices of Venezuela was created to build a bridge of understanding between cultures, to combat xenophobia, and to show the world that Venezuelans contribute to their host communities, allowing everyone to prosper.

Users during pilot phase = 30 000+

Total messages exchanged = 650,000+

Messages per day = 1000+

A background of ongoing crisis

The current crisis in Venezuela has had a severe impact on South America and affected the world at large.  Since 2015, more than 4 million people have fled this nation of around 32 million. Many refugees have walked across the western border into Colombia, where more than 1.7 million Venezuelans now reside.

A context of unreliability, tech barriers and distrust of institutions

Before the creation of the service, Venezuelan migrants in Colombia – as well as returning Colombians - did not have a reliable place to get answers about migration processes and other information they needed. There were also technology barriers as well as historical distrust of institutions due to the complicated relationships with the government and NGOs back home, the fear of exposing their irregular migration status, and a general lack of knowledge of their individual rights as humans, regardless of their status. This makes migrants vulnerable to misinformation, increasing the risk of human and labour rights violations and contributes to friction between migrants and host communities.  

​​Venezuelans waiting to enter Colombia for both migration and commerce.

A solution to a growing demand for answers and information 

Voices of Venezuela was having difficulties keeping up with the demand for answers and information. In addition, there were communication barriers: 95% of Venezuelan migrants in Colombia have difficulties connecting to the internet, with older and less capable smartphones being the most common devices used. This made mobile communication preferable, but standalone applications were problematic, due to limited processing power, data availability and storage.

Working with Turn.io, the project now has access to an enterprise level solution where it is able to have multiple agents on shifts, as well as integrate additional backend technologies to further its impact. People have a place to solve their doubts about processes and Voices of Venezuela can improve their access to the services that are available to them, while monitoring accessibility issues and service gaps.

A Piloting, launching and scaling

Currently focused on the migrant population in Colombia, the project will be partnering with other organisations to expand regionally as well as to additional end user groups. The service will launch in December 2021 following a pilot that engaged around 22 000 users, most of whom accessed the service thanks to recommendations. Within two weeks, the pilot was spiking at 1000+ messages a day through word of mouth, especially once the migrant community realised they could reliably get answers to their informational needs. Voices of Venezuela has ambitious plans, aiming to leverage AI for a scalable system across user communities and geographies and reach around 1 million+ migrants.

“We wanted a safe space for migrants to get reliable answers, to counter misinformation, where we could integrate higher tech-solutions for users that may have low digital literacy or accessibility barriers, where we could combine educational media and other informational resources using appropriate cultural context.” Nery Santaella, Founder

Insights and Advantages 

The partnership between WhatsApp and Turn.io has enabled the project to handle the sheer volume of users, and the flexibility to design custom services. Using Chat for Impact showed that the technology is there to really create new solutions and that a project like Voices for Venezuela is not restricted by past models of delivery.

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