Feeling shocked and helpless about the flood of images and news on the refugee crisis in 2012, founder Christian Hirsig, a sucessfull business innovator and young father, wondered how he could make a difference. Later, he met two other European entrepreneurs in the US: one with a catering project for refugees, the other one with a coding academy for women. Inspired by their projects and driven to help, the idea of Powercoders was born and launched by Christian and his wife Bettina Hirsig in 2016. The mission was clear from the start: help displaced people regain their independence, reduce social welfare costs and address the shortage of talent in the IT industry.
The first Powercoders program started in Bern in the beginning of 2017 with an overwhelming amount of promising applicants, volunteers participating as Job Coaches and IT trainers, and with many enthusiastic IT companies offering internships.
After an incredible start, the Powercoders community kept on growing with programs launched in Zurich, Lausanne, and Basel. Eventually, the model was shifted towards having permanent programs in Zurich and Lausanne, in order to serve the communities in the Romandie and German-speaking part of Switzerland. During the pandemic, the team decided to integrate the two locations, blending remote and on-site learning, and serve the entire Switzerland with one offering.