Dubai – MENA Herald: As the world faces the worst refugee crisis in recent history, the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab (MITEF Pan Arab) is on a mission to seek disruptive and scalable long-term solutions by harnessing the power of technology. In partnership with Zain Group, a leading mobile telecom innovator across the Middle East and Africa, and MBC Hope, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of MBC, and supported by the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR), MITEF Pan Arab launched today on World Refugee Day, the ‘Innovate for Refugees’ global competition. The aim of the competition is to find and reward tech-driven cutting-edge solutions that address the most acute challenges faced by refugees.
Known for empowering entrepreneurs to develop future-looking solutions to community challenges, MITEF Pan Arab is opening up the ‘Innovate for Refugees’ competition to participants from around the world and is determined to engage and reach out to entrepreneurs, amongst them refugees.
Participants can apply online on mitarabcompetition.com from June 20 through September 1. Four prizes of $20,000 each will be awarded to the most innovative solutions that effectively tackle challenges faced by refugees.
Of the four prizes, two are offered by the main sponsors Zain and MBC Hope and are open to solutions across categories including healthcare, energy, food, shelter and security. The third is marked for an educational solution and offered by Jusoor, an NGO established by Syrian expatriates supporting the country’s development.
The fourth prize will be crowd funded and awarded to a solution brought forward by a refugee. The MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Innovate for Refugees crowdfunding campaign launches on the Generosity by Indiegogo platform today.
Hala Fadel, Founder and Chair of the MITEF Pan Arab, commented, “The combination of three factors make me hopeful about this competition: smartphone penetration among refugees is very high and so is Internet penetration; second, you find refugees with a very high level of education especially in science and technology, finally, the refugee population is very young. Technology, education and youth work well together and will help us unleash solutions for refugees by entrepreneurs worldwide and also from within the refugee community.”
Scott Gegenheimer, CEO of Zain Group said, “We feel privileged to work with MITEF Pan Arab, MBC Hope and the UNHCR in this very relevant initiative, which strikes a deep chord with Zain. The overwhelming majority of refugees are proud, progressive and dignified people who find themselves in terrible circumstances that are beyond their control. Through efforts such as the ‘Innovate for Refugee’ competition, we hope to restore a measure of pride and purpose to many stricken people, and improve their overall living circumstances.”
According to Mohammed Abu Asaker, UNHCR’s Spokesperson: “Over the past five years the rate of displacement has escalated drastically, with the forcibly displaced exceeding 65 million for the first time. The MENA region is the largest producer and host of refugees in the world, while Syria’s war remained the world’s leading cause of displacement and associated suffering.”
Abu Asaker added: “the size, scale and protracted nature of the refugee crisis shows how traditional approaches are no longer sufficient to address the challenges faced by refugees. It is imperative to pursue innovative solutions that enable them to live a dignified life.”
The MITEF Pan Arab has also partnered with several institutions that are assisting refugees in various ways and will be leveraging its networks to raise awareness about the competition amongst refugees. These partners include the Karam Foundation, an NGO focused on building a better future for Syria, and Techfugees, an institution that works on developing tech projects for refugees.
For the judging and winner selection process, MITEF Pan Arab is tapping into its network of over 60 senior business professionals with an understanding of technology and the refugee crisis to assess the submissions of the applicants and evaluate their projects. A final award ceremony to announce the winners will be held on October 3, 2016.