Basefugees: a community platform for people on the move & tech4refugees resources
A community platform sourcing and curating resources available to refugees worldwide
Techfugees Global Summit 2018, a two days summit to discuss and demo technologies that help build bridges between locals and displaced people. Picture of volunteers involved in logistics and involved throughout the world animating our local community chapters (on this picture more than 20+ nationalities represented and many people who have experienced the "refugee journey")
Mike Butcher, founder of Techfugees, on a field trip to Lebanon Bakaa Valley March 2016 to learn more about mobile phone & tech use in teaching young kids.
Techfugees Field trip to Kakuma refugee camp 2019. Collecting information on the market of mobile phones in the camp, local connectivity solutions and mobile phone usage by locals.
Techfugees Hackathon in Nairobi 2019. A participant listing the problems faced by refugees in camps.
Techfugees Hackathon in Nairobi 2019. Participants discussing tech solutions to the challenges faced by refugees in Kakuma camps.
Techfugees Hackathon in Amman, Jordan 2017. Josephine Goube, CEO of Techfugees, listening to the pitch of a team of locals & refugees building tech for local refugees in Jordan.
Techfugees Hackathon in Paris 2017 - Teams presenting the challenges met by local refugees to meet locals and do sports together and pitching technical solutions to meet these challenges
Techfugees Hackathon in Paris 2017 - Gathering refugees and innovators to discuss ways we can build a tech bridge between local refugees or asylum seekers and Parisians to do sports together
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.
Brainstorm on Basefugees with the team from General Assembly. Nov 2017
A graph to illustrate the major challenge to rebuild capital in a totally new place for refugees. The red line is the expected result with our idea, Basefugees. The lower line is an average result and the last line illustrate the case if one falls into a poverty trap.
First suggestion for the design of Basefugees on mobile phones by the team from General Assembly. Nov 2017
Geography of focus (500 characters)
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.
Example of successful leverage of community strengths & assets. We gathered founders of coding schools for refugees worldwide in March 2017 along with some of their students to discuss common challenges, ways to overcome them together, brought them to pitch together to potential funders (UN foundation, UNESCO, Philanthropists).
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.
Type of submitter
We are a registered Non-Profit Organization
Organization Headquarters: Country
United Kingdom & France
Organization Headquarters: City / State
London & Paris