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This Egyptian Young Woman Developed an App that Helps Refugees in Turkey Find Work

The young AUC graduate developed an inspiring social startup in a lightning-fast, competition at NYU Abu Dhabi’s International Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World.

Radwa Hamed is one of Egypt’s promising young minds. The tech-savvy innovator, who graduated from the American University in Cairo in 2016, took home the gold with her team earlier this year at NYU Abu Dhabi’s International Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World. The young woman, a computer engineering and electronics and communications engineering double major, teamed up with fellow changemakers from Argentina, Switzerland, the UAE, and the US to come up with their award-winning app, Hiat.

The social entrepreneurs saw an opening for improvement in Turkey, where refugees are eligible for work permits. Over the course of three days, the student masterminds crafted an app that could serve as a bilingual mobile job portal for the scores of refugees who have settled in Turkey but lack access to legal documents and financial institutions. The team of intrepid developers wrote an app framework - called Hiat - for SMS with Turkish to Arabic translation, so people lacking smartphones, 3G, or Turkish language skills can have access to employment solutions. The app is ideal for tradespeople such as plumbers or electricians, and can be used from start to finish of the job, from the search step up to and including the payment step.

Hamed plans to improve and adapt the Hiat platform to meet similar challenges in her home country. She and her team met with investors following their NYUAD Hackathon win in April 2017. Bringing the Hiat concept to Egypt’s slums has potential to raise the standard of living for more than just refugees - many of the country’s socioeconomically disadvantaged face similar issues when seeking employment.

The socially-minded developer now lives and works in Switzerland. Earlier this year, she worked with Affectiva, an internationally-acclaimed AI-powered emotion recognition software created by fellow Egyptian Rana El Kaliouby. 

This past month, Lebanese entrepreneur Pierre Wehbe made waves with his VR device for helping Syrian refugees see their country again. Seeking to harness the talent and ideas of young entrepreneurs like Hamed and Wehbe, the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab Region recently opened up applications for their refugee learning accelerator. The organisation is also hosting an ideathon in Lebanon, as part of their Innovate for Refugees competition.

Main image via American University in Cairo.

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