Immigration was one of the most explosive topics during the 2016 election, and since the new administration has taken office, attacks on the U.S. community—both through legislation and cultural climate—have increased to a sickening degree.
Even prior to Trump's election, resources and information for recent immigrants were scattered, and often difficult to decode. Swedish tech company Rebtel is trying to remedy this. It connects the international immigrant population through its app, and now its newly launched digital publication Beyond Borders.
The company, founded in 2006, is a leading competitor to WhatsApp and Skype. But, instead of relying on data and network quality, Rebtel “combines the reliability of phone lines with state of the art VOIP technology,” or (v)oice (o)ver (i)nternet (p)rotocol, which allows users to make voice-activated phone calls over a broadband connection.
The company has been putting its migrant customers first by creating an unlimited calling plan with a low monthly rate ($10). It also started an activist initiative across the U.S. that now boasts more than 10,000 participants and helps those who are newly arrived find work, and, recently, allows users to send money to family via mobile credits.
Beyond Borders was a natural next move for the company.
“We looked at every step of an immigrant’s journey and tried to be there for them,” Magnus Larsson, CEO Rebtel, told Publisher’s Daily. “We created Beyond Borders to be a news source that brings this community together in a way that most news sources aren't able to.”
The editors, many of whom are migrants themselves, saw a niche not being served by mainstream news. In an effort to counter the political and media led debates about immigration in the U.S., they saw an opportunity to become an informative resource.
Beyond Borders covers politics and other current events, as well as mental health, entertainment and notable migrant inventors. Recent headlines include “Do You Ever Truly Belong in Your New Country?” and “Trump’s War on (non-hot white female) Immigrants Continues.”
Beyond Borders is funded entirely through Rebtel, assuring editorial independence. While the publication isn’t ruling out partnerships or advertising, it currently is working on building its list of contributors.
“Our mission is to redefine the word migrant — or rather to reclaim it from the unfortunate negative connotations that have become associated with it in recent times,” says Solveig Rundquist, editor of Beyond Borders. “We want Beyond Borders to become the natural community and platform for immigrants all across the world to read interesting stories, but also to share their own experiences.”
The publication is new, and not yet accessible from the app. In 2018, Beyond Borders will scale up editorial production, exploring issues like identity and culture in depth. They’ll also add video content and publish investigative pieces. The editors are in the process of launching a newsletter to keep their readers connected.
Rebtel expects to take in $95 million in sales in 2018.