Karvan - Propelify
  • New York
  • Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • 08/17/2017
  • http://www.karvanapp.com
  • Seed Stage
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We are creating a non-monetary economic system based on points earned through service. Our platform allows refugees and citizens to exchange skills and services all over the world, thus building new links of community, innovation and education where they did not exist.

67 million people in the world today have been forcibly displaced from their home due to war, conflict, natural disaster and political persecution. However, The UNHCR cannot keep up with these claims, which means that millions of skilled people are needlessly forced into poverty while they wait for their papers to be processed. Only 1% actually have resettlement papers that permit them to earn money in their current places of residence. This means that the majority of them are forced into poverty, despite having monetizable skills and a desire to put them to use. Karvan is creating a non-monetary economic system and mobile marketplace for citizens and refugees to exchange skills and services. Users create profiles, detailing the skills and services they would like to offer. When another user searches for these services, they are matched. Users are compensated for their time in points (per hour), which they can then use on any other service by any other user. We are also partnering with non profits and charities around the world who will make their existing projects more efficient by incentivising volunteers with points per hour of service, thereby introducing new users into our marketplace. Additionally, for every hour of service exchanged on our platform, we will provide the equivalent number of hours of internet access in refugee camps. Our current partners include Karam Foundation and Gaia Association, two major players in the refugee space who collectively have jurisdiction over hundreds of thousands of refugees across the Middle East and Africa. We’re creating non-monetary economic system based on the single commodity every human in the world has the same amount of: hours in a day. Our users form new communities of solidarity, which are highly personalized, yet leverage the power of global networks. They exist in spatial orbits that are at the same time smaller and larger than the nation. Sensationalist media capitalizes on the critical lack of first-hand interactions people have with refugees. Facilitating inter-personal connections addresses this problem while empowering the 99% of refugees who do not yet have papers to establish themselves as valued, talented members of society. Not passive recipients of aid, but active agents of innovation and creation. Karvan isn’t about insiders helping outsiders. Karvan is about realizing that there are no outsiders. We empower individuals, regardless of sex, gender, race, religion or nationality to feel their best by doing their best. The greatest problems in our world are not the products of lack of information; nor lack of resources. They are the result of a critical lack of connection, which leads to moral disengagement and indifference. Human connection will save our world. We are making that happen, blazing trails where they have been lost. Karvan is a vote for a world where resources, opportunity and potential are shared evenly, because home is not a place. Home is a feeling.

We already have a Facebook group with over 5000 members, where users have been trading skills and services for over a year. This group contains users from over 20 countries, from Syria to Afghanistan to Germany, France, Britain, Norway, USA, Iraq and more. Having seen the positive impact we have already made in the lives of so many with the little resources we had, we are certain that Karvan will be able to fundamentally change the way people understand value, responsibility and community once we gain the support we need to grow. Our MVP will be ready in the next week. After a short period of testing, we will open it up to the public. Soon, we will be working on implementing our P2P mesh network wifi technology in the camps in Ethiopia, where our pilot will take place. I have done a lot of preliminary work, spending around two years researching customer development prior to launching the business. I went to Jordan four times in the past year, each time for 4-6 weeks. I have worked and volunteered with several organisations, as well as in camps in both the Middle East and Europe (including the Calais ‘Jungle’, Northern France’s notorious refugee camp, where police brutality, violence and abuse was rampant). The situation was so unfortunate, not least because so much of the suffering could be prevented by simply including refugees in the political, economic and social life of the host communities. My father was displaced by war at a young age, and trod the same path as many of today’s refugees. Likewise, our COO Kareem also comes from a family of refugees, and one which is very much involved in the NGO scene in the Middle East. Between us, our involvement with the refugees spans academic, personal and experiential dimensions. I started the project after returning from Calais, struck by the poverty my skilled, talented Syrian and Iraqi friends were forced to live in. Most of them helped to run the camp, either as aid distributors, medics or firefighters. They were not compensated for their work at all but they continued to do it because they wanted to meet people, establish themselves in the community and have something to do. The camp was being gassed by the police every few days. Having experienced this myself, I wanted to find a solution, so that each person would be fairly compensated for their time without breaking the law or putting their asylum applications at risk.