STORIES OF CHANGE
How simply downloading an app can transform a refugee’s life
Posted by josefine
Mar 23 20
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At REFUNITE, we never stop looking for new solutions to help improve the lives of refugees and displaced people. Our mission, first and foremost, is to empower these people. Our family tracing platform allows refugees to take the search for missing loved ones into their own hands, using only their mobile phone or computer. However, we wondered what other daily needs these people had and if there was anything we could do to help.

Many of the refugees and host community members we speak to mention difficulties surrounding employment. In a new place, with no official paperwork or legal recognition, it can be extremely difficult for refugees to find work. Even when they do, they are often exploited. A refugee in Uganda, for example, earns no more than $2 per day. REFUNITE recognised the need for safe, flexible employment opportunities that could allow refugees to begin rebuilding their lives. In response to this need, we created LevelApp.

LevelApp is a digital platform that provides secure employment opportunities for refugees and low-income workers in marginalised economies. It pairs workers with data scientists to build Artificial Intelligence, using human judgement to build highly accurate data sets. The work itself is simple, involving downloading and identifying the objects in images. Once tasks have been completed, payment is sent directly to the person’s mobile money account.

The app is highly flexible, and tasks can be downloaded and completed offline wherever a person is. This is ideal considering refugees often won’t have access to a stable Wi-Fi connection. Often people are using the app alongside other commitments – such as work or school. Users can earn up to 200 USD per month. This is a life-changing amount of money for a refugee.

The response to LevelApp has been amazing, and we are now celebrating 3,106,040 images labelled so far by 1,541 users! We would like you to meet the LevelApp champion, Sera Kyangwa. We spoke to her about her background and how using LevelApp has changed her life.

Sera was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but had to flee with her family after conflict broke out in the Eastern part of the country. She began a new life in Uganda in 1997 with her mother and two sisters. Her mother began a small stall in the local market – until Sera heard of LevelApp this was the only source of income for the whole family.

One day, she was sitting on the bus when she saw that the person next to her was staring intently at their phone and smiling in silence. Sera asked her what she was doing, and it turns out she was another Congolese refugee who was using LevelApp. Sera decided to try it.

Using LevelApp for three to five hours a day, Sera can provide a secondary source of income for her family. She can now afford travel expenses, which has allowed her to start taking hairdressing lessons. She hopes to open her own salon one day.

Sera told us one of her favourite things about the app is that she has been able to learn English and develop skills that make her employable in Uganda. This is particularly important, not just as a refugee, but as a female refugee. She now feels empowered to hope for the future. She has already recommended LevelApp to four of her friends, hoping that they too can begin earning money.

Thirty percent of LevelApp users are women. At REFUNITE, we believe digital inclusion is essential for all refugees, and we are proud to be able to help these people earn money and develop employable skills. Sera’s story is inspiring, the opportunity of safe employment provided by LevelApp gave her the power to start planning for a more stable future for her and her family. We hope that LevelApp will continue to grow, and change more lives!

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