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114 | Hacking Tech to Assist Refugees

Natasha Freidus cofounded NeedsList with Amanda Levinson amidst the Syrian refugee crisis after discovering the wide disconnect between the needs of frontline NGOs and the intentions of the giving community.

114 | Hacking Tech to Assist Refugees

In the autumn of 2015, Natasha’s concern about the refugee crisis propelled her to co-found a local solidarity effort near her home Southwest France, from which her vision for NeedsList emerged. In early 2016, Natasha to co-founded Prosper Community, a global consortium of partners and individuals who have developed the largest, publicly available database of migrant related social startups in Europe.

Subsequently, Tasha and Amanda founded NeedsList after looking for tools to better connect needs on the ground with the willingness and ability of donors to give. Unable to find such tools, they originally hacked a wedding registry and used it as a tool to connect the immediate needs of NGOs on the ground with a global donor community.

Further tweaking revealed NeedsList: a web-based application where anyone assisting in humanitarian crisis can enter a need (e.g. we need 50 blankets). Anyone on the site can pledge to fill that need, and the need is ultimately fulfilled by a supplier on the ground or in the area.

The process cuts down on shipping, lag times, miscommunications and waste.

Natasha has studied and worked in a range of communities including the U.S./Mexican border, the Dominican Republic, Thailand, and spent 2006-7 on a Fulbright Fellowship in Tarragona, Spain. She also speaks regularly about the role of tech in the refugee crisis and we were fortunate enough to have her visit our show, Social Design Insights.


Our opening theme music for 2019 is "Bang Bang" and our closing theme is "Salvame" both by Eljuri from her album "La Lucha." The break music for this episode is "Lodestar" by Sarah Harmer from her album "You Were Here."