Catch up with our CEO, Joséphine Goube, and get her thoughts on how it felt to welcome so many new faces to Paris for our two-day annual Summit…

As the curtain falls on our second Techfugees Global Summit, all I have to say is… wow! It’s impossible not to compare this event to our inaugural summit last year, and the big difference is, quite simply, there was a lot more to enjoy this time. 500+ attendees, one out of four being a refugee and everyone engaged with the issue in their daily work or lives.

More new faces among familiar ones, more countries represented, and more of a sense that our message is filtering through to the right people. There was an enormous sense of optimism, that we’re scaling in a healthy and sustainable direction without compromising our mission.

At times it was overwhelming, I felt like I knew everyone attending last year and this time I had people I’d never seen before saying hi and telling me how much they love what we’re doing. Humbling stuff!

Global challenge success

In particular, I was most impressed with the innovators that pitched on the Global Challenges stage. Competition was as fierce as it was diverse, with over 100 applicants from 53 countries whittled down to 25 finalists before the Summit even began. Each finalist perfectly captured the essence of their respective category, representing the best use of their chosen technologies, and the winners were the best of the best.

Access to rights and information’s winner was Integreat, who fused a sustainable business model with a total commitment to data security to provide key information to newcomers.

The winner of the health category, Shifra, focused on women’s sexual health. With women bearing the brunt of so much suffering as part of the refugee challenge this was highly relevant and swung the judges.

Education’s winner, Antura and the Letters, is a free, open-source game to help with the psychosocial well being of young Syrian refugees. Released in Arabic, this mobile game can be adapted to other languages for a hugely versatile winning entry.

The employment category went to TaQadam, whose story is particularly interesting. The CEO actually met her co-founder at last year’s summit. 12 short months later they returned and won their category with a visual AI solution helping young people build on their digital skills.

Finally, the social inclusion category was won by Refugees Are. Founded by a refugee who faced enormous hostility herself as part of her journey settling in Ireland, particularly via the media, she set out of fight it. This project analyses the language and sentiment used in the media to describe refugees on a massive scale, helping reframe the discussion as well as fighting isolation and disengagement.

And finally, the Mohajer App won a special jury prize for its work assisting Afghan refugees in Iran in incredibly difficult circumstances.

These winners demonstrate the spirit which continues to drive Techfugees forward: putting refugees and natives on a level footing.

The number of applications we received from refugees confirms they want to be involved, it’s something with which they feel engaged and able to usefully contribute.

 

Looking for leaders

Nowhere was this clearer than on our first day, when a keynote speech from George Papandreou, Greece’s former Prime Minister, was followed by a refugee-moderated panel discussion on big data and AI. Everything was underpinned by this inclusive ethos of sharing experiences.

Right now, the tech-for-good movement is mired in a crisis of leadership. Those who rise to the challenge will form a vanguard of powerful voices calling for positive change and a fairer world for everyone.

This post was written by the team at Sookio.