[The names of this year’s finalists are listed down below, you can scroll down to learn more about them]
Launched on World Refugee Day three years ago, ‘Innovate For Refugees’ had been at the forefront of the efforts alleviating the plight for many refugees in the world. Up to this moment, there are currently 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.
Global efforts rushed to relief the situation for Syrian refugees fleeing their country since the beginning of the conflict, turning the incident into an eye-opener to the global community showing that this issue is not the result of a modern-time incident, but has been taking place for a long time and on a global scale.
Previous winners with ‘Innovate For Refugees’ have all utilized technology in innovative and creative ways, that cater to the needs of refugees around the world. For example, Natakallam, a US-based startup, provides employment opportunities to Syrian refugees, as Arabic conversation partners for language learners around the world. Natakallam has proven to be successful at not only creating jobs for refugees but also developing cultural lanes between learners, by changing any previous prejudices or stereotypes around refugees. Also, we can mention OpenEmbassy, a Netherlands-based winner of IFR in 2016, which connects status holders with Dutch volunteers who answer questions about everyday life in the Netherlands.
This year’s ‘Innovate For Refugees’ was extra challenging to judge and evaluate, especially as we have received applications from over 50 countries from around the world that were diverse both in scope and level of growth.
This year’s applicants had numerous innovative ideas, with 77.5% of them have applied to the ideas track, and 22.5% to the startups' track. In terms of gender breakdown, it remained the same as the previous two editions of the competitions, with 66.5% being males and 33.5% being females.
We are lucky to have our partners on board, who truly believe in our mission and in the importance of empowering displaced communities around the world. Our main partners for this year’s edition are Zain, ZINC, GCC Services, MBC Hope, and Agility. Also, we want to thank our community partners, who supported us in outreach, and communicating with their networks, and encouraging them to apply.
Now, without further ado, here are this year’s ‘Innovate For Refugees’ finalists, who will be leading the way to #CrackTheCrisis:
We want to take a moment to congratulate the finalist teams for their outstanding efforts, and we encourage the rest of applicants, who did not make it the next round, to remain persistent with their projects, and continue to create an impact on society.
The finalists will be taking part in an intensive 4-day training program conducted by the MIT Bootcamps in preparation to their final pitches on January 27 in Amman. The trainings are led by MIT-trained coaches and will focus on the fundamentals of starting a new venture. Problem specification, customer, solution, business model, pitching, all supported by hands-on coaching.
The winners of each track will be announced during the final event in the evening of January 27 at the King Hussein Business Park (Amman). The event will feature a keynote address by Sanjay Sarma, VP of Open Learning at MIT, in addition to a panel focused on sustainable solution to the educational gap created by forceful displacement. We will also be graduating the first cohort of the MIT ReACT Certificate Program part of the MIT ReACT Hub, an initiative that was launched in May 2017 when the challenge of refugee education was presented at MIT SOLVE.The MIT Enterprise Forum Pan-Arab Region is ReACT’s inaugural Seed Partner.
Stay tuned for all updates about the competition: #CrackTheCrisis