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Tech and Refugees: How tech can help the Syrian refugee crisis

  • Home House London 21 Portman Square House 21 London, W1H 6LW United Kingdom (map)

We enthusiastically invite you to an evening at the beautiful members club Home House onTuesday, August 2 from 7:00 - 9:30pm to understand the Syrian refugee crisis and how the tech community is responding.  All proceeds of the tickets will benefit Refugee Open Ware.  


To register and get tickets, please visit the eventbrite page here. 


Europe is experiencing the biggest refugee crisis since WWII but in the digital age.  Given the scale of the crisis and the digital literacy of many refugees, the tech community in Europe is working with NGOs and non-profits to address the challenges of a 21st century crisis.  Tech responses have included creating mobile apps for refugees to obtain crucical information, mobile payment platforms to send and receive money where refugees cannot open bank accounts, 3D printing of prosthetics for refugees who became handicapped, coding and programming schools, and the list goes on.  This evening will gather voices from refugees, entrepreneurs and NGOs, as well as showcase a photography exhibit of refugees from around the world.  

Program for the evening

Doors open at 7pm.  

7:30-9:00pm -- Keynote speech and speaker panel, featuring entrepreneurs whose startups are involved in the crisis followed by Q&A.

9:00pm-9:30pm -- networking, mingling and raffle prizes.  



Keynote - Asem Hasna:  Our keynote speaker is Asem Hasna, a 22 year old Syrian refugee, who lost his leg while serving as a parademic.  Asem escaped to Amman, Jordan, where he received medical help and became involved with Refugee Open Ware, an organization based in Jordan, Turkey, and Berlin that is bringing 3D printing and maker spaces to conflict zones and refugee camps.  Through Refugee Open Ware, Asem learned to program, design and print his own prosthetics.  As Jordan became less hospital to refugees, Asem fled to Europe through Greece and is now settled in Berlin, where he continues to work at Refugee Open Ware, teaching young refugees programming and helping other refugees become makers.  See Asem's Ted Talk here:

Panelist - Antti Pennanen:  Antti is the founder of MONI, a Finnish mobile payments startup that partnered with the Finnish Immigration Service to provide a platform for refugees to send and receive money, as many refugees are not eligible to open bank accounts without proper papers.  More than 5,000 refugees have signed up for the platform, which has also partnered with Mastercard to provide pre-paid debit cards.  

Panelist - Saalim Chowdhury: Saalim is the founder of the freelancer marketplace Skillbridge, which was recently acquired by Toptal.  

Panelist - Paula Schwartz: Paula is the founder of StartupAid and StartupBoat.  Both organizations aim to connect entrepreneurs with key stakeholders including NGOs and government in incubating and executing solutions to the refugee crisis, particularly in Greece, where Paula grew up.  StartupBoat is a mobile incubator and workshop aboard boats across the world to help identify problems and ideate specific solutions.  

Moderator - Matthew Gardiner:  Matthew is a core member of Techfugees, which is a global movement of volunteers from the tech community brainstorming for solutions to the refugee crisis through workshops, hackathons and conferences.  There are now over 2,000 members of Techfugees globally who volunteer their time and skills.  

Speakers subject to change.

Photography/art exhibit and raffle prizes

This event will conclude with a creative raffle where participants will have a chance to win a few very special prizes, which will include: documentary photographs that capture refugees in difference conflict zones donated by a Japanese American photographer, Q Sakamaki, and a thematic art piece donated by a Russian contemporary visual Artist, Nadezhda "Nadya" Yakustidi. All proceeds from the raffle will go to the causes of Refugee Open Ware. Brief information about both creative contributors is included below. 

Nadezhda Yakustidi (Russian, b.1967) best knows as Nadya, is a Russian-born artist, currently residing and working in Athens, Greece. She is a distinguished awardee of the International Union of Artists and is a respectable member of the Russian Union of Artists.  Having lived in Greece for over 10 years and having closely observed the affect of refugee crisis on the Greek Islands, Nadya is a strong supporter of finding effective multi-stakeholder solutions to eradication of people's suffering and rebuilding of civilians' lives. 

Q. Sakamaki (Japanese, b.1958) is a Japanese-born, New York-based photograhper who began covering international issues in the mid-1990s, photographing everything from war zones to earthquake victims all over the world, in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Kosovo, Haiti, Liberia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Turkey, Georgia, and Sudan. Q has received numerous awards throughout his career, including a World Press Photo First Prize for a People in the News story (2007), two Overseas Press Club awards (Olivier Rebbot in 2007, and Feature Photography in 2010), and two Days Japan International Photojournalism awards. 


Home House, an exclusive private members club in Marleybone.  Event to take place at House 21, House Lounge.



Refugee Open Ware:




Home House:

Please note that drinks will not be included in ticket price  (you may purchase at Home House) so that ticket prices remain accessible and we maximize the proceeds to Refugee Open Ware.