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Pioneers ‘Innovate for Refugees’


The winners of the second Innovate for Refugees competition were announced in Amman at the weekend.

Organised by the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) for the Pan Arab region, the 20 teams in the final – representing 12 countries – were all entrepreneurs spearheading innovative ideas that can tackle the refugee crisis.

The US$100,000 plus in prize money will be shared between Jordan’s Akyas, for its biodegradable toilet; Paper Airplanes, from America – which ‘uses free, mobile-friendly video technology to meet the current gap in teen and adult education’; as well as Austria’s More Than One Perspective – which provides ‘an advanced training program that offers various workshops, training and mentoring to prepare highly qualified refugees to enter the labour market’.

Lebanon’s Hope in Sand and Pipes was another winner. It makes ‘transitional shelters for refugees using locally available material’ that is recyclable and reusable.

And the Tech for Food platform, a project from the WFP Innovation Accelerator, makes up the 2018 list of winners. It provides digital training to people who have ‘never touched a computer’, giving them the skills they need to gain employment in the ‘international digital economy’ in less than 16 weeks.

“We are extremely delighted with the success of the second edition of Innovate for Refugees. This shows how far the youth can achieve with only a little push and support to reach their full potential through their entrepreneurial ideas, innovation, and talent. In this context, we have succeeded in attracting several refugees to take part in this competition, and we are happy that three of the winning teams include refugees,” said Hala Fadel, Chair of the Board of MITEF Pan Arab.

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