In the face of a massive refugee crisis across Europe, one of the most optimistic responses has been the emergence of Techfugees. The non-profit pulls together entrepreneurs and refugees to develop products and services that help migrants who have fled their homelands.
After two years of catalyzing the tech community’s response to the refugee crisis, Techfugees held its first Global Summit this week in Paris. Over the course of two days, the event gathered 450 attendees representing 35 countries. The event also featured 42 Techfugees-inspired startups to demonstrate the innovative approaches they’re taking to helping refugees.
At a moment when tech is increasingly being associated with a host of social ills, Techfugees offers some hope that tech and innovation can still be pressed into service for a greater good. The intensity of the event and the number of people who have responded to the idea has Techfugees’ co-founder and chairman Mike Butcher feeling optimistic and somewhat amazed that something that started as a simple Facebook post now has the ability to make an even bigger impact.
“It was a spontaneous project two years ago,” said Butcher, a London-based editor at TechCrunch. “I pushed open a door, and gave it a name. And it’s become a viral hit. It started with a fast burn, and then a slower burn, and now it’s a sustainable burn.”
Techfugees got its start in September 2015 as Europe struggled to respond to the thousands of refugees from the Middle...