At the second annual Techfugees Global Summit, a wide range of startups and entrepreneurs once again gathered to focus on how tech can help refugees.
Techfugees is a nonprofit that pulls together entrepreneurs and refugees to develop products and services that help migrants who have fled their homelands. The organization got its start in September 2015 as Europe was struggling to respond to the thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Northern Africa suddenly pouring across its borders.
The crisis inspired Techfugees founder and chair Mike Butcher, also a senior editor at TechCrunch, to ask on Facebook what the tech community could do in response. Since then, the organization has grown as it continues to organize refugee-themed hackathons under the day-to-day direction of CEO Joséphine Goube.
The second summit was held at Station F in Paris over two days and this year included a startup pitch competition across five categories: health, recruitment, education, social inclusion, and access to information.
The majority of the 25 startup finalists this year were founded by women, and in many cases by refugees.
The winners each receive one year of personalized support from Techfugees and its NGO partners HIAS and the French Red Cross. They will also get credits from Amazon’s AWS and Stripe.
Here are the five winners:
1. Access to rights and information
Integreat, founded in Germany in 2015, has developed an information app and website for new arrivals and local bureaucrats. The goal is to facilitate information-sharing between local officials and refugees trying to navigate local services and resources.
Shifra provides mobile health services while also helping researchers better understand the barriers refugees face in terms of accessing health care. Based in Australia and founded in 2015, the organization offers an app with local health information in multiple languages.
Antura and the Letters is a mobile game designed to help Syrian children learn how to read in Arabic and improve their psychosocial wellbeing. The team of developers behind the app come from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt.
TaQadam is a job-finding app that taps into the growing need for data workers and annotators to help vision-recognition services. There is a booming market for humans who annotate visual images to help machines learn. This company delivers on-demand annotation services for clients that can be performed by refugees, regardless of location.
5. Social inclusion
Refugees Are is a project that is mapping and measuring public sentiment around refugees by analyzing news stories and other web content by location and tone.
Finally, in addition to the five many categories, judges awarded a special jury prize to the team behind The Mohajer App for their work assisting Afghan refugees and migrants in Iran under difficult circumstances. The Mojaher team conduct research via the app to provide vital information for living in Iran as a refugee or migrant, as well as a providing a tool for anonymous reporting of abuses of refugees and everyday experiences in Iran.
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