At Agile Magnetics New American community encouraging others to join

  • Agile Magnetics hosted New American students through a partnership with Overcomers Refugee Services to learn about careers in manufacturing. Courtesy

  • Agile Magnetics hosted New American students through a partnership with Overcomers Refugee Services to learn about careers in manufacturing. —Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 5/24/2023 4:45:40 PM
Modified: 5/24/2023 4:43:10 PM

As a high school student, Feleke Baininwa thought she might want to go to school to be a hairdresser or beauty technician. But when graduation came, she wasn’t convinced – so she decided to work before heading back to school.  

Now, Baininwa knows she wants to pursue a degree in human resources. And that’s thanks to her time working at Agile Magnetics, a manufacturer based in Concord. 

For many New Americans in the Concord area, like Bainwina who came to New Hampshire when she was 15-years-old from the Congo, manufacturing jobs like Agile provide a steady income with limited language barriers. 

On the factory floor, Bainwina can translate for other employees as they are trained to learn how to wind or operate machines. From there, it’s conversations in native French or Swahili. 

Now, the company hopes that this will entice students like Bainwina, to consider a career in manufacturing out of high school. To do so, they hosted students on the factory floor in an event with Overcomers Refugee Services – to share more about what a career in manufacturing entails and provide a chance to hear from current employees. 

For Innocent Hakizimana, working at Agile for the past three years has meant that he started in production, knowing nothing about how to wind coil or magnetics manufacturing. Now, he trains others when they begin. 

When he moved to New Hampshire in 2019, fleeing a refugee camp in Rwanda, he began working in the hotel industry. But after six months, the pandemic hit and he never went back. 

Agile has helped him find a leadership role on the manufacturing floor. Day to day he can speak French with other employees. And many of them too, are from the Congo – coming to the United States as asylum seekers. 

“It’s a company that I love so much. That’s why I still work here,” said Hakizimana. “The people that work here, they’re like family.” 

When the students visited Agile’s facility, Bainwina also saw herself in them. She graduated from Concord High School in 2021, and before graduation, she also toured a factory in Manchester. 

“I’ve done that before too,” she said. “I see them in a position where I was and looking for jobs. And I feel like, ‘okay, this is where I belong’.” 

When Bainwina first moved to New Hampshire, she spoke no English. As a 15-year-old, she was enrolled in middle school. 

Often, language can be a barrier for refugees looking for employment in the state, she said. But with Agile, the community of almost 20 New Americans, provides a foundation for them to translate for each other, and encourages the company to hire individuals regardless of fluency. 

“It does work,” said Monica Maney, the human resources director at Agile. “And it still gives people have opportunity to have a job.” 

Employees at Agile have a choice of two shifts – morning, from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or evenings from 2 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. And it’s a four-day work week – with Fridays off. 

It’s this flexibility that allowed Esperance Nyamahoro to have a baby while working at Agile – balancing her schedule back at work, with her husband's work hours, to care for their newborn. 

It was a lesson in caring for individual employees – ensuring that Nyamahoro could go home during lunch to check on her newborn, and coordinate care with neighbors and family. And it’s the type of attention that inspired Bainwina to pursue her next degree in human resources. 

“Since I work with refugees, translating and listening to people's problems, fixing their problems, I think I will be good at this,” she said. “This is what I want.” 


MICHAELA TOWFIGHI

Michaela Towfighi is a Report for America corps member covering the Two New Hampshires for the Monitor. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy and journalism and media studies in 2022. At Duke she covered education, COVID-19, the 2020 election and helped edit stories about the Durham County Courthouse for The 9th Street Journal and the triangle area's alt-weekly Indy Week. Her story about a family grappling with a delayed trial for a fatal car accident in Concord won first place in Duke’s Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism. Towfighi is an American expat who calls London, England, home despite being born in Boston.

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