Wars and climate change force millions of persons to leave their homes and seek safety. Techfugees is an international non-profit, supporting displaced persons through its network of volunteers to get access to information, education, health, employment and social inclusion through technology. They facilitate the technical support and deployment of tech products and services enabling refugees’ inclusion.
We interviewed Louise Brosset, the Global Community Manager at Techfugees, who works on Basefugees and is using the Forrest Admin panel enabling innovators around the world to list and update responsible digital innovations designed with and for refugees on the platform, and Alban Dumouilla, the Founder & CTO at Selecteev, who was responsible for adding internal tools to the Basefugees platform built in Ruby on Rails. Their choice fell on Forest Admin as, unlike other internal tool solutions, it can be easily managed by individuals with no or little technical skills, and it is much more cost-effective than building such a tool from scratch.
It is estimated that currently there are almost 80 million refugees and displaced people around the world, half of them being under 18 years old. Techfugees focuses on refugee talent and showing that displaced persons, empowered with technology, are able to solve some of the challenges they are forced to face on their own, independently, by accessing more equitable opportunities and information. The organization was created by a group of volunteers in the UK of various backgrounds (academics, techies, humanitarians...) led by Mike Butcher, one of the most influential journalists in European technology and editor at large at Techcrunch and then Joséphine Goube, an expert for the European Commission on migration reforms and the board member of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
The essential guiding principle of Techfugees is working with displaced persons, not only for or about them. The Techfugees community is decentralized and organized by local chapters — teams of volunteers including refugees. Each of them works on projects that facilitate displaced people with access to the internet, education, health services and medical information, translation, and so on. Volunteers help them settle in a new country, continue interrupted education, learn the language, find a house, offer technical assistance, all through digital means.
Once the team identifies a technical solution that fits their needs (for example, during a hackathon), non-refugees and refugees work side by side to implement it and adapt it to the local needs. Basefugees is the platform that lets volunteers know about and engage with these projects online, connect with other innovators internationally, provide safe and curated online space around sustainable projects, and gather constructive feedback and support.
Challenges that made Techfugees looking for an internal tool solution
Techfugees needed an internal tool that is cost-effective, can be easily integrated with the Basefugees app built in Ruby on Rails, and which is intuitive for the non-technical user.
Alban Dumouilla, the developer who was responsible for choosing and integrating an internal tool solution, knew that developing it from scratch was not an option. The organization needed to spend as many resources as possible on the main Basefugees web application. On top of that, they also needed every functionality, such as handling data and updating information about the projects, to be ready as fast as possible. Almost everything has been available out-of-the-box, except the functionality to publish an article from a draft, which was easily implemented through a Smart Action.
Forest Admin: An ideal solution
My goal has been to equip Techfugees’ volunteers with an internal tool that is easy to use, and flexible enough to grow with the project. I didn’t want to build it from scratch because it would be much more time-consuming and expensive. It was very easy to integrate Forest Admin with the application thanks to the Forest Admin Gem. Having experience with other open source admin panel solutions and Forest Admin, I prefer the latter because of its flexibility and clear user interface. - Alban Dumouilla.
From my perspective, the main advantage of Forest Admin is that it is intuitive for non-technical people. It helps the team behind Basefugees to easily curate content and onboard projects designed for refugees and keeps us focusing on operations. - Louise Brosset.
Forest Admin is an internal tool solution that fits the needs of non-profit organizations: it is cost-effective, flexible, suitable for big and small projects, and able to grow together with the organizations. Volunteers claim that it’s intuitive and easy to onboard new users, and it lets them focus on the mission.