On May 4th and 5th Barcelona welcomed its first ever Techfugees hackathon and was held in the gorgeous space of Playground Magazine. The event was focused on the challenges faced by refugees once they reached a hosting society: How can refugees and asylum seekers have meaningful occupations? Refugees in Barcelona are accompanied during a 6-month process that often is not long enough to guarantee a future that meets all their needs.
To kick off the hackathon, Techfugees Barcelona teamed up with three NGOs. Each defined a problem statement around inclusion and settlement in Barcelona for refugees:
CHALLENGE #1 – Singa Spain asked the question of career continuity: How do we foster a new ecosystem where newcomers can pursue their professional dreams?
CHALLENGE #2 – Worldreader raised the problem of marketing to refugees: How to ensure we actually reach the right target?
CHALLENGE #3 – Refugees Friendly raised the problematic of social inclusion.
Just after, the participants got a presentation of tools and methodologies by PeaceWorX on how to start a project before choosing which challenge they wanted to address and gathering in five different teams.
Let the competition begin
During lunchtime, Martin Morillo, founder of MySolidarityapp, a platform enabling cost-free donations for social causes, gave an insightful speech on tricks to avoid when launching a venture and how to bounce back from multiple failures during the entrepreneurial journey.
From the early afternoon till late in the night, all the teams brainstormed with the support of mentors with various expertise (Spanish asylum seeking process, business modelling, field NGOs’ needs and target audience, technical skills…).
On Sunday morning, those tired brains came back to life with much needed coffee in order to finalize the presentations. Once submitted, they had one last hour to train for their oral presentation, putting in practice the tips outlined by Daniel Hires, pitch expert, the night before.
Dinner was provided by Believe Food Works, a delicious socially responsible restaurant whose catering is powered by the Beyond Food Project a social project helping integrate refugees and the homeless into society by offering them an opportunity into the world of food.
On Sunday at 12:00, the jury gathered, Jordi Torrent from Barcelona Tech City, Corinne Gray from Uncomfortable Revolution, Lleidy, from Singa Spain, Oriol Lopez from Chapter 2 and Louise Brosset from Techfugees Global. It was time to pitch: 3 minutes under the tight supervision of Techfugees Barcelona Chapter’s co-lead.
- Power United Migrants pitched their idea of a political party with local representatives that starts with a website;
- Esperanza presented their project to foster refugee career boost and employer openness by creating a platform for paid trial jobs;
- Reachfugees worked on a platform to further allow the reach of refugees;
- The Icebreakers came with their project to ease social interactions through a bot that send challenges to participants; ideal tool to foster inclusion;
- Trust presented their project: a platform of mentoring mixing all population, and in which refugees that were mentored are encouraged to also help another, which led to the birth of its first MVP: a WhatsApp group that is already growing;
- Then, Essa spontaneously made a speech about the idea of the creation of a Syndicate for refugees.
Jury deliberation allowed everyone to (finally) take a bath of well deserved Barcelona sunshine 🌞
And the winner is…
The winning team got an incubation and support by the NGO partners of the event. Some of the other teams plan to continue working on their projects, among them; The Icebreakers with Refugee Friendly.
After a round of applause, those wonderful 30 hours of hack were ended. All the attendees definitely spent an intense weekend in human connection and which birthed beautiful ideas we wish to see blooming 💫
Key figures of this first hack 📊
- 49 attendees
- 29 hackers
- 22 women
- 19 nationalities (Spain, France, Cape Verde, Norway, Canada, Iran, Argentina, Morocco, Senegal, Ghana, USA, Dominican Republic, Italy, Ukraine, Russia, India, Germany, South Africa, India) 🌍