MIT En­ter­prise Fo­rum Pan Arab an­nounces win­ners of ‘In­no­vate for Refugees’ com­pe­ti­tion

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

AMMAN: Un­der the pa­tron­age of Her Majesty Queen Ra­nia Al Ab­dul­lah of the Hashemite King­dom of Jor­dan, MIT En­ter­prise Fo­rum (MIT EF) Pan Arab, in part­ner­ship with Zain Group and MBC Hope, an­nounced the seven win­ners of the In­no­vate for Refugees com­pe­ti­tion at an award cer­e­mony that took place at the King Hus­sein Busi­ness Park Main The­atre in Amman, Jor­dan on Oc­to­ber 4.

The com­pe­ti­tion was ini­tially set to re­ward five win­ners but given the cal­iber of the fi­nal­ists, two ad­di­tional prizes were of­fered: $20,000 by Zain Group and $20,000 by Samih Dar­wazah Foun­da­tion. The MIT EF Pan Arab In­no­vate for Refugees ini­tia­tive was launched in June 2016 in part­ner­ship with Zain Group, a lead­ing mo­bile telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­no­va­tor across the Mid­dle East and Africa, and MBC Hope, the Cor­po­rate So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity arm of MBC, and is sup­ported by the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNICEF, Ju­soor and Uber. There were also over 30 part­ners sup­port­ing the com­pe­ti­tion in­clud­ing TechFugees and the In­ter­na­tional Res­cue Com­mit­tee. The com­pe­ti­tion in­vited en­trepreneurs and refugees from around the world to come up with tech-driven, in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to help address the global refugee cri­sis.Over 1,600 ap­pli­ca­tions were re­ceived, with 21 fi­nal­ists short­listed to the fi­nal round.

Win­ners were se­lected based on the cri­te­ria of in­no­va­tion, im­pact, scal­a­bil­ity, team mem­ber­ship and fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity. In ad­di­tion to cash prizes, win­ners are set to re­ceive men­tor­ship and train­ing by in­dus­try ex­perts to help them through the ex­e­cu­tion of the projects.

“We thank Her Majesty Queen Ra­nia for her pa­tron­age of the award cer­e­mony. Jor­dan has been a gra­cious host to refugees, and we are very happy to be hold­ing the fi­nal event here,” said Hala Fadel, Founder and Chair of the MIT EF Pan Arab. “Tech­nol­ogy’s mis­sion is to pro­vide so­lu­tions to prob­lems faced by mil­lions of peo­ple and this is the logic be­hind the MIT En­ter­prise Fo­rum Pan Arab In­no­vate for Refugees ini­tia­tive. We want to get at the heart of the cru­cial and cen­tral pur­pose of to­day’s tech­nolo­gies and in­no­va­tions,” she added.

Zain Group CEO, Scott Ge­gen­heimer said, “A heart­felt con­grat­u­la­tions to the win­ners. We are very im­pressed by the pas­sion and in­no­va­tion that con­tin­ues to be pro­duced in this re­gion, and are par­tic­u­larly moved by the refugee theme of this com­pe­ti­tion. Of­ten, the best so­lu­tions for prob­lems are home­grown, so we have ev­ery faith this com­pe­ti­tion and its win­ners through their en­deav­ors, will foster a bet­ter fu­ture for many refugees across the re­gion and be­yond.”

Mazen Hayek, MBC Group’s of­fi­cial spokesman com­mented: “As MBC, we see hope ev­ery­where; we are thrilled to have part­nered with the MIT En­ter­prise Fo­rum Pan Arab for this com­pe­ti­tion which suc­cess­fully found real so­lu­tions for some of the most press­ing prob­lems faced by refugees.”

The award cer­e­mony was at­tended by Ad­mirMa­sic, As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor at MIT and Ed­u­ca­tion Lead at MIT Solve, Alexan­der Mars, Founder & CEO, Epic Foun­da­tion, Said Dar­wazah, Chair­man and CEO of Hikma Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Scott Ge­gen­heimer, CEO of Zain Group and Ah­mad Al Hanan­deh, CEO of Zain Jor­dan.

Ap­pli­ca­tions for the com­pe­ti­tion were re­ceived from a wide range of coun­tries and sec­tors, the ma­jor­ity of which hailed from Egypt, Jor­dan and Le­banon. Ba­sic needs, health­care and ed­u­ca­tion sec­tors were well rep­re­sented within the ap­pli­ca­tions. Women sub­mit­ted 32% of all ap­pli­ca­tions, and 15% of to­tal en­tries were sub­mit­ted by refugees.

De­scrip­tion of the win­ners:

Boloro and BanQ: Global Pay­ments and Eco­nomic ID Net­work, based in Jor­dan, brings fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion and eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity so­lu­tions for refugees and ex­treme poverty pop­u­la­tions through a part­ner­ship be­tween BanQu, a lead­ing blockchain eco­nomic iden­tity plat­form com­pany and Boloro Global Lim­ited, a USAbased global pay­ments gate­way plat­form.

Change Water Labs: Based in the US, con­sists of a rev­o­lu­tion­ary evap­o­ra­tive toi­let that is low­cost, com­pact, stand-alone so­lu­tion for off-grid and in­for­mal dwellings and which rapidly “flushes” away 85-90% of daily house­hold sewage vol­umes. Evap­tain­ers: Based in Morocco, are mo­bile and mod­u­lar evap­o­ra­tive cool­ers that are ideal for low-in­come, off-grid ar­eas and that can triple or quadru­ple the shelf-life of most pro­duce.

LEDlife: Based in Switzer­land, has de­vel­oped a low cost, fun and easy to make DIY so­lar LED lamp kit; an ed­u­ca­tional tool for teach­ing about re­new­ables, sus­tain­abil­ity and re­cy­cle.

NaTakallam: Based in the US, con­sists of a plat­form that pro­vides em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to Syr­ian refugees as Ara­bic con­ver­sa­tion part­ners for Ara­bic stu­dents around the world.

OpenEm­bassy: Based in the Nether­lands, is an online helpdesk that en­ables sta­tus hold­ers (refugees with a per­mit) to ask ques­tions about their in­te­gra­tion process and from their an­swers, Open Em­bassy de­vel­ops an FAQ and a smart wiki and shares the lessons learnt with the key stake­hold­ers like lo­cal govern­ment and NGOs, to help them de­velop smarter in­te­gra­tion poli­cies and prod­ucts.

Re­cy­cle Beirut: Based in Le­banon, is a so­cial busi­ness com­bin­ing two prob­lems, the refugee cri­sis and the waste cri­sis, into a so­lu­tion. The com­pany em­ploys refugees at a liv­ing wage to pick up, sort, and process re­cy­clables for the greater Beirut area.

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