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These Concordians help refugees reclaim their identity

A student-powered startup set its sights on the Clinton Foundation’s $1M Hult Prize
March 1, 2017
By Yuri Mytko

The Edel team (left to right): Khouloud Alsaieq, Muhammed Idris, Stephen Brown and Mahsa Khoshab. The Edel team (left to right): Kholoud Alsaieq, Muhammed Idris, Stephen Brown and Mahsa Khoshab.

A Concordia team is headed to Boston this month for the regional stage of the Hult Prize competition. An initiative of the Clinton Foundation, the event encourages college and university students to solve global challenges with innovative ideas for sustainable startup enterprises.

The Hult Prize Foundation is a not-for-profit startup accelerator dedicated to launching the world's next wave of social entrepreneurs. It awards $1 million USD in seed funding to the competition winners annually.

This year’s edition is challenging startups to develop new ways of restoring the rights and dignity of people and societies forced into motion due to social injustices, politics, economic pressures, climate change and war.

The Concordia team’s startup, Edel, offers a platform to authenticate the identities of refugees in order to issue them e-vouchers that can be redeemed from a network of pre-authorized merchants.

“We believe that the most effective way to help restore the rights of displaced migrants is by helping them reclaim their identity,” says Stephen Brown, one of the team members and an undergraduate student at the John Molson School of Business.

“Most refugees avoid camps. Instead, they remain undocumented in neighbouring city centres or other informal settlements.”

Brown explains that because refugees often don’t meet the identification criteria required to participate in the formal economy, they’re excluded from economic work opportunities and can’t access the resources necessary for recovery.

It’s an issue that he and his teammates hope to address through their project, which they’ll put forward at the upcoming regional competition.

Edel arrives in Boston on March 2. They are one of just 250 teams selected from the 50,000 who applied worldwide. 


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