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Innovate for refugees

Portable economic identities. A global telemedicine platform. A refugee-managed recycling center.

Innovate For Refugees, a competition hosted by Beirut-based MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab, rewarded tech solutions to the acute hardships faced by refugees. Nearly a third of the 1,633 entries came from women — and 15% came from refugees themselves.

Among the seven winners: Boloro and BanQu project, from Amman-based payments platform Boloro and BanQu, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., lets users securely make payments and receive funds.

HeyDoc!, a telemedicine platform created by Lebanese IT experts Ahmad Al-Hidiq and Salah Al-Hidiq, already has 1500 user and 500 advisors. HeyDoc! recently got a boost from the Dubai-based TURN8 accelerator program and backing from an angel investor.

Recycle Beirut employs job-seeking refugees to help manage waste in Lebanon, which lost its main landfill in 2015. The firm currently employs 17 Syrian refugees.

“If you use innovation to find a solution to a tough social problem in a large market, you have hit the investor’s sweet spot,” says Christina Andreassen of WOMENA, a Dubai-based angel investment platform.

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