For Barcelona's first Techfugee hackathon (1.5 days), we were tasked with designing a solution that integrates asylum seekers and refugees into their host country.

The primary issue lies with asylum seekers, who are denied of their initial refugee status and are required to wait several years before they are able to reapply. During this time, they are living in the country illegally and urgently need money to survive.

Due to their urgency, these individuals find themselves working for very low pay cleaning houses or taking care of other people's children. Additionally, they do not arrive knowing the local language, and do not have the time to attend workshops to learn the language because they take place during their work hours.

May 2019

Experience Design Strategy


Priscilla Li
Leah Newman
Davide Barbato

Meriem Chafiqi

Prior to conceptualizing our solution, our team conducted several stakeholder interviews with SINGA representatives to understand the audience we were designing for. With our stakeholders' insights, we concepted Comienzos, a new platform that merges the features of gofundme and internships.

Comienzos means beginnings, and that is what we hope each asylum seeker will feel after they survived their journey to their new host country. We want them to see this chapter of their lives as a new beginning and be able to follow their dreams.

Our goal was to design a feasible technological solution that allowed for asylum seekers to escape the cycle of taking on demoralizing low-pay work, and allow for them to pursue their dreams and integrate into their host country.

We wanted to provide locals and asylum seekers with short-term jobs opportunities to shadow experts in local businesses, and provide them with an opportunity to crowd-fund their business ventures so that they can independently sustain themselves.

The primary emotion we wanted to invoke through Comienzos was the feeling of hope, and selected various shades of green for our color palette.

For Comienzos logo, we selected an image of a leaf encased inside a lightbulb to represent that the opportunities and dreams that they pursue are ideas that lead them towards an self-sustainable life. We selected Roboto Slab and Roboto as our fonts, in order to induce a sense of trust and security.

Additionally, we designed a simple sign-up process that protects asylum seekers from being tracked and discriminated against. To create a profile on Comienzos, all that is needed is an email address, preferred name, age, languages spoken, skillset, and their interests.

Communication between employers and employees will take place on Comienzos, where messages are automatically translated (via Google Translate) into each individual's preferred language. In turn, both sides can comfortably converse to see if there is a fit for the posted opportunity.

The two primary pages on Comienzos are the opportunities and dreams pages.

The opportunities page contains short-term job positions similar to internships, where asylum seekers are paid to work, shadow an expert in a field, and be exposed to the local language. Local businesses can choose to employ them for a longer duration once the initial job expires.

The dreams page contains posts similar to gofundme entries, where individuals can collaborate to start a funding page for a business venture. These entries have no time-limit and people loaning to these funds are doing so with a promise that they will be repaid one day once these individuals are able to sustain their livelihood with their business.

Comienzos was selected as the winner of the Techfugee hackathon, and will be a part of SINGA's upcoming incubation lab starting in June 2019.

During SINGA's incubation lab, 50% locals and 50% refugees will come together for 6 months to develop business ventures together in teams. Comienzos will be one of these potential ventures for them to develop and bring into fruition.

Make a donation to support SINGA Labs incubator to make Comienzos a reality: Donate to SINGA Labs