The market research supported us in understanding the long-term vision and mission. The UK International Development Secretary had already helped highlight some potential funding options. She also touched on the various bodies who may be able to help from a business perspective. For example, Business Call to Action . This UN body gave us clarity on what was needed to enter their eco system. Yet, we still felt the need for validation from industry.
I was used to hacks - they tend to be techy centric. So coming across a Jam was great. It is a spin-off from the tech hack. It focuses on generating viable business concepts under a theme. In this case, the twin themes were fintech and social value. As events they are intensive. They take up the entire weekend - literally. You start on Friday evening and you pitch your solution on the Sunday. It is great fun. The sponsors always bribe you with good food. ☺
I pitched The SVG. Some attendees felt there was something to what we were looking to do. We formed the team on the Friday. On Saturday, the grind started. We went through all the tech platform solutions we could find. We tried to see how we could use tech in the context of The SVG we were designing. For example, We looked at how mobile payment solutions would help lower costs. How it would also reduce human error in payments across a geographically dispersed population.
We went back to basics and looked at the brief of the Infosys Challenge again. We felt the refugees crisis would be a worthy topic to focus on. So the next stage was to see how we could apply the knowledge we had generated to support them. We looked at the constraints we were working under and how we could use them support them. We touched on refugees in refugee camps. It clicked - eureka moment for us !
So what could we do to help them generate employment and opportunity. To help them take responsibility for their own futures using fintech. We felt entrepreneurship was a great tool for this. Across the world there is a growing appreciation of how entrepreneurship can support society. The SVG itself was a product of such thought, so why not here. At this point it all suddenly started to make sense. There was clarity.
We came up with the concept of using crowdfunding to support pre existing micro businesses within refugee camps. These micro businesses need funding to scale. Scaling means employing more people. This would then generate opportunity for both the entrepreneurs and other refugees. It would give them a sense of normality. It would help them re integrate into the global community. It also has the potential of reducing religious radicalisation. Paul Collier’s school of thought suggests this.
Once we were in this zone everything just fell in place. You could tell it was an execution only environment from here on. We divided up the work between us and then focused on the timelines. We organised a pitch, rehearsed and delivered it. Turns out the judges liked it so much they gave us top prize in our category.
"I opened the shop to try to support my family because there are eight of us here" - Mr Harib