CUTTING-EDGE ONLINE FINANCIAL SERVICES FOR REFUGEES
THE HUMAN IMPACT: Current financial tools don’t work for refugees and old‐paradigm intermediaries have reduced individuals to static ID numbers. Their reality often means they have little way to to create and carry around a financial history or banking resource, while on the move. On this platform, verified and secured through blockchain technology, they own and manage their data and connect to a global trusted network of real people in their lives plus institutions and opportunities that can better it. BanQu has huge potential to help refugees become contributing citizens to their new homes more quickly: in the US, for example, where before it took around 10 years for a newcomer to build an adequate financial history to access a loan, BanQu has reduced that average time to 4-6 months.
THE NUMBERS IMPACT: By the end of 2017, thousands of refugees and other unbanked groups will have directly benefited from building and owning their economic identities, but the real systemic changes will ripple out across the UNHCR, refugee-serving NGOs, financial institutions, refugee diasporas, and even the public’s conception of what it means to be a refugee. HOW DOES IT WORK? From a paradigm of (alleged) transience, dependency and lack of autonomy, Hamse Warfa is using the growing success of a radically new financial services “app” to help key gatekeepers in the refugee space pivot to a paradigm where the refugee experience is understood to be marked by permanence, independence, interconnection, and agency; things that all people need to thrive but that have been systematically denied to refugees in our current “dependency” paradigm. Hamse and his co‐founders at BanQu are building a global platform and trusted network that empowers everyone on it with a verifiable, immutable identity that they control. Anyone with a connected device – and with the help of BanQu’s software and applications – can build an encrypted and authentic transaction identity. Conceived of in 2014 and officially launched in late 2016, the BanQu platform enables refugees to record, secure, and document their full “baseline information” including demographic details, property and assets, credit and transactional history, health records, education records, and even energy consumption. Through BanQu, refugees then have access to financial services, can better understand their spending behavior, and monitor their savings.
WHO STARTED IT? Hamse Warfa’s insights and passion are informed by his own experience as a refugee, and his success to date is fueled by the impressive professional experience and network he’s built globally, from having served as a Senior Program Officer at Margaret A. Cargill Foundation (the 7th largest foundation in the world) and in his home in Minnesota, (where he’s found opportunities to directly collaborate with nearly half of the local Ashoka Fellows). He founded the The Somali Coalition, which seeks to improve the lives of Somali Americans in Minnesota’s globalized traditions and cultures.
HOW HELLO EUROPE IS HELPING: Hello Europe is connecting him to key technological and financial partners in Europe to pilot the tool with migrant and refugee communities and to scale the technology.
WHAT THEY NEED NOW: Funding for EU expansion and local partners.