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Refugee aid startup NeedsList is launching its beta site next week for World Refugee Day

Protest at PHL International Airport. (Photo via Flickr user Joe Piette, used under a Creative Commons license) June 16, 2017 Category: EventFeaturedMediumResults
World Refugee Day is Tuesday, June 20.

NeedsList, the Philly-based social enterprise that connects people who want to help refugees to refugee aid workers around the world, is marking the occasion with the next big step in its development.

Last we heard from NeedsList, it was in its prototyping stage. But sometime next week, NeedsList will be launching its beta site, according to Amanda Levinson, cofounder and COO of NeedsList. The platform will be launching with a couple dozen small nonprofits and NGOs in Greece, France and Philadelphia working in refugee resettlement.

You’ll hear more about all of this next Tuesday in a press conference where Mayor Jim Kenney and company are set to talk about the projects and initiatives happening around the city to honor refugees around the 2017 theme of “standing with refugees,” according to a press release.

That includes “innovative new partnerships” with Philly companies and startups like NeedsList, the Inkind Baking Project and cloud-based software-as-a-service developer WebLinc.

For Levinson, this kind of exposure and support is all part of the continued response she’s seeing happen in the city and the world around the refugee crisis.

She recalled how recently in northern Greece, there was a massive diaper shortage so NeedsList partnered with a local supplier in Greece to run a campaign for donors to buy discounted diapers — when all was said and done, around 10,000 diapers got to refugee aid workers in three days.

That kind of efficiency is the basis for one of the key features Levinson said will be rolling out with the beta: the ability for people to purchase supplies directly from suppliers that are based in the countries and areas where these nonprofits are doing their work, and have them sent directly to the workers.

“Our goal is to shine a light on how people can help — it’s something we hear from people over and over,” Levinson said.

NeedsList is getting more and more attention for its work. In April, the startup was announced to be one of eight in the inaugural cohort of Village Capital’s VilCap Communities fintech accelerator, run in partnership with Ben Franklin Technology Partners, where only two startups will each receive $25,000 in seed money by the end of the 12-week program.

This summer, NeedsList is also going to be a part of a global class of startups working with MassChallenge’s 2017 accelerator program in Switzerland, where NeedsList is the only U.S.-based startup working in the accelerator’s “social impact” category.

Next steps? Levinson said it’ll be, one, proving that the platform works, and two, getting feedback from users to really refine its “human-centric design.” Eventually, she hopes, NeedsList will scale and be a platform to serve the needs of any social cause.

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