How Tech Entrepreneurs Are Putting Humanitarian Aid Ahead of Profit

Shelley Taylor’s organization RefAid is among them. A veteran tech entrepreneur, Taylor wants to make a profit. But she also wants to help people. And so she put her considerable know-how to work to develop an app designed for migrants and refugees who want to find various social services in countries where they’re located or to which they’re headed. Privately funded by Taylor and operating on servers supported by her company, Trellyz, RefAid is now in its fourth year, and grows largely by word of mouth.

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The result was the Refugee Aid app – or RefAid for short. Created over the course of a weekend in early 2016, RefAid uses geolocation and real-time data to show migrants, refugees and aid workers up-to-date maps of the nearest service points, filtered by category. Some meet simple short-term needs – such as water or blankets – while others cater to the long-term demands of a life lived in limbo: legal aid, medical clinics and education.