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Basefugees: a community platform for people on the move & tech4refugees resources

A community platform sourcing and curating resources available to refugees worldwide

Photo of Joséphine Goube
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Refugees are not by essence and definition "poor" people. Instead, History (Dust Bowl, Palestinian exodus, EU’s refugee crisis) & data show that it’s a common feature for people who find themselves forced to move, to end up leaving it all behind (house, job, car, friends & family) and so refugees end up poorer than they were initially upon arrival to a safe place. Yet, it is a major challenge to transfer, recover or rebuild this economic, social, cultural, etc capital in a totally new place. Worse, for refugees, the sudden socioeconomic downgrade from belonging to a community & owning citizenship rights, to being a lone individual labeled “refugee” & locked into the “beneficiary” status makes the whole recovery process harder; when it does not lead to a direct fall into a poverty trap. Our idea to address this challenge is techfugees' brainchild and the results of 4 years experience of work with innovators building tech-enabled solutions for & with refugees. Concretely, BASEFUGEES is a web-based platform facilitating interactions between refugees with specific needs (opening a bank account, finding a job, learning a language, etc) and a curated community of entrepreneurs, humanitarians & techies with resources on offer to satisfy those needs (a lot of them have applied to the Ghb x Ideo Challenge). Central to BASEFUGEES is a search function designed around refugees’ needs and filtering available offers of resources by location, language, nationality, etc. Next is a list of resources on offer marked by a timestamp, scores from admins & users’ comments as a way to build in trust. Basefugees helps us move our existing offline community online and scale our method, networks, and impact to more refugees. On the long term, Basefugees aims to be that open sourced mobile-friendly and multilingual one-stop-shop of solutions for any refugee worldwide.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

In terms of users, we are focused on targeting English speaking digitally savvy refugees and displaced people that have arrived in major cities of countries hosting refugees in Europe, Middle-East and Africa and where a bubbling technology community is present for now; they are the people the most likely to be early adopters of our platform and able to provide feedback to help us build a better and expanded platform.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

A safe and personalized online bridge connecting refugees with a welcoming community of local people and essential resources. This bridge enables refugees to overcome their precarious economic situation from the moment they arrive until they are have fully rebuilt enough capital to fully thrive like anyone else in their new community. The resources offered must align with our 8 guiding principles and solve a need that is above the basic needs according to Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Basefugees solves the essential human need for connection that is access to *community support* and *trust* - two elements often missing or put to the test on the perilous refugee journey to a new place. Basefugees does so by 1/ connecting online refugees to a safe community and resources only tailored and specific to them (the search function returns a list of resources & people that the user can directly contact or directly use). 2/ by offering rich & trustworthy information about the resource available (each resource on offer has a timestamp, a score & allows for user comments) 3/ by curating members (people offering resources on the platform need to be vetted first to be able to use the platform) 4/ as a user leaves more constructive comments and interacts more, they are invited to participate actively in the building of BASEFUGEES and have a voice at our offline events (hackathon, workathon and summit).

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Today, refugees rely mostly on word of mouth, social media & close friend direct recommendations to find information about resources available. It's inefficient because it is limited in scale and is heavily biased and subjective from one person to another. Tomorrow, thanks to Basefugees, refugees will be able to make better-informed decisions for themselves, enjoy more constructive interactions with local neighbors and rebuild local capital faster. That's because, Basefugees provides them with a personalized list of reliable local people & resources available to them & the ability to connect with them for free. Importantly, through user comments, they can gather more opinions & feedback about available resources, outside of their close friend circles. We will track the number & quality of interactions between users & resources posted, and gamify the posting of feedback so we get more user-generated content and feedback.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

93% of refugees that arrived at the shores of Greece in 2015 used their mobile phone to make the journey to Europe (BetterPlace Lab, 2016) and 87% of refugees and displaced people are found living in areas with 2G/3G access (UN Innovation Lab, 2014). These are the facts that started the Techfugees community, an online community made of tech entrepreneurs, techies and humanitarians - some refugees and some non-refugees - which has generated: -A collection of anecdotal evidence on how mobile phone act as lifelines for refugees -A long database of refugee tech projects, their successes and failures, All this data and evidence demonstrates the growing influence and successful use of online information & resources by refugees to go about their daily life, with a clear limitation in the accuracy & trustability of tools and the total absence of organized & updated global directory. That’s is that growing use and demand from refugees themselves to us that Basefugees is looking to address.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

3 different types of users: 1/ Refugees: have a lot of needs not satisfied because of a lack of resources. They don’t know who to ask & where to find the information & how to trust the information. 2/ Innovators: they are tech-savvy, want to volunteer their skills for good & are looking for meaning in their lives. They don’t know what resources refugee needs but they have time & resources to offer. 3/ Techfugees Admins: they have experience working with refugees &/or technologists. They want to enable safe & efficient interactions between users & resources. They have data over what refugee users are searching on Basefugees & follow a due-diligence process for reviewing innovator's resources. The dynamic flow: a refugee user enters a query about a need, gets a list of resources matching, refugee user clicks & gets redirected to the resource or contacts innovator. Next time user logs on Basefugees, a fun slider pops up ask a rate on how satisfied he is with resource.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Techfugees has been able to gather and become a reference for a global online community of 46,000 refugees and non-refugees dedicated to build and use online tools to support displaced people. Along with a core team made of only 3 people and a distributed team of 36 volunteers worldwide, we organized more than 30+ hackathons events on the five continents and 2 global summits hosting 500+ people from 52+ nationalities, helping us keep our database of innovators growing, with growing participation of refugees in the category (25% of innovators who submitted an application to our global competition were refugees themselves) Basefugees, its brainchild, will be able to leverage these 4 years of community work and scale it to be able to source more refugee needs and match them directly with more local resources.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

First, a volunteer from the core team created a concept note of it. Then, initial design sketches of Basefugees were built in 2016 with General Assembly students in London (see attached). As it became clearer there was a demand for it, a motivated distributed team of Techfugees volunteers came spontaneously together in 2018 to start the building of Basefugees with the support of their respective organizations (Amaris consulting and Joonik) joined by a few new talented engineers from our partners at Gaza Sky Geeks. This enabled us to launch a first alpha version of Basefugees in May 2019. Today, we are backed financially by Google For Startups and the FAIRE Foundation led Nick Nopporn Suppipat, a refugee himself and now investor in refugee solutions. We are looking for design studios, tech companies and foundations with expertise in building marketplaces and platform to help our development.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Technology-enabled: Existing approach is more effective or scalable with the addition of technology

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Group or Organization Name


Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Founded in 2015 by Mike Butcher (TechCrunch), Techfugees is an international non-profit organization coordinating the commitment of the tech community to contribute with resources to meet the needs of displaced people. Led by Joséphine Goube, with 7+ years experience developing platforms for migrants through Migreat and advocating for a human-centered approach to migration system designs at the EU commission, Techfugees operates in five priority areas where tech can have a significant impact: access to rights and information, education, health, employment, and social inclusion. Within almost 4 years, Techfugees has grown into a community of nearly 46,000 innovators supporting via social media and taking part in hundreds of dedicated events around the world, including more than 30 hackathons and one annual Global Summit.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

United Kingdom & France

Organization Headquarters: City / State

London & Paris


Join the conversation:

Photo of Destin Ndebo Rugereza

Hello Joséphine Goube, I am so excited to go through this lovely project and have realized it goes hand in hand with ours on many ereas of coverage. We are looking forward to collaborate with you for complementarity, Hope it's possible!

Photo of Joséphine Goube

Hi Destin! Awesome to hear that we are working on similar ideas! Is this the idea: ?
If so I will go have a look at it right now and add my comments!

Photo of Destin Ndebo Rugereza

Hey Joséphine, yes that is the project. I think we have where we can start from

Photo of Joséphine Goube

I posted my suggestion. hope it is useful! Happy to connect you with the people behind those projects when you need some advice or tips from them!

Photo of Destin Ndebo Rugereza

I am so thankful for the links and so far Integreat has shown interest to working with us I have been in frutful discussions with Fitjof knier, the plan is to see possibilities of piloting it in Kampala as we explore possibilities of adding in more features.
Once you are set to implement your project in Uganda, you can contact me on +256750399991 Or
Happy having you.

Photo of Joséphine Goube

I am so glad you spoke to Fritjof! They are the guys who have been able to develop the model in 50 cities in Germany... a great collaboration ahead? :) All the best Destin! And Speak soon when we come to launch in Kampala our next community

Photo of Destin Ndebo Rugereza

Hey Joséphine, we had a very fruitful skype meeting with Froth of and the web is now shaking for we hope for a very strong partnership with integreat. This comes to thank you for the contact and we encourage members to have one on one meeting with prospective partners we met here and it will be beneficial I can ensure. Once more thank you. Still looking forward having you in Uganda coming 2020.

Photo of Destin Ndebo Rugereza

I meant Fritjof

Photo of Joséphine Goube

:) Awesome. That was fast! Looking forward to discussing more with you in the coming months. My twitter is @josephinegoube. Let's keep each other up to date.

Photo of Destin Ndebo Rugereza

Great hearing from you dear Joséphine, yep, you're right Twitter will be awesome.

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