Student Spotlight: 2015 DEM Case Competition’s Winners
The 2015 Digital Enterprise Management (DEM) Case Competition “Bridging the Gap” was an event that provided students the opportunity to share their innovative solution to a panel of judges. This year’s winning team, Refugion, developed an idea that addressed the Syrian Refugee Crisis. While Germany and Sweden received international praise for their commitment to the refugee crisis, Canada’s response to the crisis has been slow. Thus, to help tackle this problem, Refugion came up with an innovative solution to ‘bridge the gap.’
As global citizens, University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) students Maleeha Baig, Fatima Zahra Hamaimou, and Isra Somane decided to do their part in helping out refugees. Starting from scratch with the blueprints, they were determined to create a social-networking platform that assists refugees with the immigration process. “We were aware of how impersonal the immigration process could be for refugees, especially since the process mostly involves filling out government forms. The fact is, most refugees don’t have the opportunity to meet regular Canadians on a daily basis. This inspired us to design a program that helps refugees assimilate into society through a more personal, well-connected process,” says Maleeha Baig, a student currently pursuing a History Specialist in Diaspora and Transnational Studies.
Maleeha Baig, Fatima Zahra Hamaimou, and Isra Somane took a highly innovative and interdisciplinary approach to the design challenge; as students studying CCIT, History, PWC and Psychology, they were able to integrate their skills and knowledge from different disciplines into their final design – an application that facilitates direct communication and networking for refugees with local hosts. “We designed an app similar to Tinder and Airbnb that links refugees with hosts, allowing the refugees to easily find housing, companionship, skills of trade or jobs. We are hoping to back [the app] up through the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency in Canada). It’s really simple. It will help refugees stay connected,” says Fatima Zahra Hamaimou, who is pursuing a double major in Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (CCIT) and Professional Writing and Communication (PWC). Mirroring Tinder’s left-or-right swiping function, this application will allow Canadians to access a refugee’s profile and personal stories. Citizens can then choose to become benefactors for a particular refugee by donating money, sponsoring for food and shelter, or providing emotional support. By emphasizing on one-on-one correspondences between refugees and local hosts, the application will help personalize the immigration process.
Recalling the effort and hard work they put into designing the application, the Refugion team appreciates the opportunity they had in applying classroom knowledge to real situations at the DEM Competition: “I think knowing that people can benefit from our work and knowing that our idea will help people really made the project self-fulfilling. There is definitely a humane aspect to everything that we did,” shares Isra Somane, who is studying CCIT and Psychology.
The winners are given a chance to meet Deloitte representatives and a free entry to the Young Entrepreneurs Conference (YEC), coming up February 6, 2016. Congratulations to Maleeha Baig, Fatima Zahra Hamaimou, and Isra Somane on winning the 2015 DEM Case Competition. We look forward to their performance at the YEC!