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This is a great idea: it's actionable, practical, and is follows similar micro-finance models, while allowing for the unique situations refugees face. I saw the power of micro-finance to empower marginalized groups when working for the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Similar support is going to be needed, here, and, as the Grameen Bank did through professional staff deployed in the field, I like that your idea uses staff support to ensure success.

One area that is worth thinking about is how your idea can continue to help refugees the systemic discrimination they face in the economy, in education, and within the government. Typically this is because of their outsider status, with entrenched groups using prejudice as a way to marginalize refugees - often this isn't as much a product of outright hatred, as it is because of a lack of understanding and familiarity. I would encourage you to build an advisory council or construct your support staff with members of entrenched communities that are likely to marginalize refugees. Such an approach will contribute to a cross-cultural understanding, provide an inclusive approach to community-building (refugees often lack community), and gives entrenched groups skin in the game.

Should you be interested in further discussing this idea, I'd love to connect. I've spent time in micro-finance, understand how it works, and have built community networks as a political organizer.

Overall, great idea, and I wish it every chance for success!

You've got a great idea, Karen. I love how personal the app is (allowing users to track the progress of their tomato plant), as well its social aspect (sharing recipes, etc.). One way I think you could implement this tool is in schools. I remember when I was a student at George Washington Middle School, I took a unit on gardening for a health class. Though this was a long time ago, I would have enjoyed the access to more information and ideas about what to do with the vegetables we were growing to enhance the value of the lesson. Though I'm long since out of school, I am interested in getting into gardening and growing plants, and could see this app as a great accelerator for my budding interest! Just some food for thought (ha ha) about how to get your great idea out there!

I think this is a fantastic idea, and one that I can see having a real impact! One small way I can see you enhancing the app is to add a feature that incorporates recommendations from restaurants based on location. It's great that I could logon and explain that I want a jelly doughnut and receive a healthy alternative; but it would also be good if I could explain that I want a hamburger and receive a recommendation for an alternative at a nearby restaurant. I think this feature would be well received by all your target demos, and would be particularly well-suited to the Phase II launch. I also think that Anne Kasper has a great insight about how choices could affect recommendations. Overall, though, I'm incredibly inspired by your ideas. I don't have the technical skills to help you make it a reality, but I would love to help you launch it in San Francisco when it's built!