Aspire

Aspire

A group of us at Moment teamed up to participate in the Refugee Hack Summit, a hackathon aimed at addressing crises faced by refugees today. Our team focused on the refugee credit crisis, and produced a strategy proposal and prototype for a solution. We won first place for our concept, Aspire, an app aimed at helping new refugees build a strong financial future.

A group of us at Moment teamed up to participate in the Refugee Hack Summit, a hackathon aimed at addressing crises faced by refugees today. Our team focused on the refugee credit crisis, and produced a strategy proposal and prototype for a solution. We won first place for our concept, Aspire, an app aimed at helping new refugees build a strong financial future.

Organization
Refugee Hack Summit

Year
2017

Team 
Daniela Vizcaino, Jasmine Lai, Pratima Mani, Cheng Cheng Zhao, Hanley Weng, Gena Hong, Hanley Weng, Sahib Singh, Yixiu Wu

Refugee_img_hero.2
THE CHALLENGE

Empower refugees in their journey toward financial freedom

Empower refugees in their journey toward financial freedom

While there are nine resettlement agencies for refugees in the US, there’s room for improvement when it comes to helping refugees build the lives they desire in the long-term. If you’ve lived in America your whole life, you may feel like you have a pretty good grasp on our confusing credit-building system. But to a newcomer, our concept of credit—including what it means to build it—may be significantly different than what they’re familiar with. Credit history in the US has far-reaching implications. It determines things like the loans you could qualify for—including housing, car, or small business loans—and the interest rate you’ll pay. But without the proper tools and guidance, refugees often make decisions that negatively impact their credit score from the start, inadvertently trapping them in a cycle of debt.

THE APPROACH

Heavy prep makes for success

Heavy prep makes for success

Heavy prep makes for success

Heavy prep makes for success

Heavy prep makes for success

A few weeks before the hackathon, the Summit organizers provided us with a brief detailing critical information about refugees, several crises they face today, and the institutions that support them. After doing some initial research, we decided to focus our efforts on the credit crisis.

To prepare for the hackathon, our team gathered additional information through secondary research and informal interviews with recent immigrants to better define the refugee journey once they arrive to America and begin to build a new life. This research gave us insight into the existing solutions and challenges of credit education, micro-lending, as well as opportunities to build credit.

On the day of the hackathon, my team and I were ready to hit the ground running. We brainstormed opportunity areas and used a dot voting exercise to pick the strongest one. We then had 15-minute long interviews with five established refugees to get a clearer picture of how they learned about and built their own credit history, as well as any credit struggles they faced along the way. We also had Q&A time with 3 experts, including a case manager. Finally, we split into three teams to produce our final deliverables. I was responsible for building our prototype and stress-testing our concept with our refugee participants.

Dot_excercise
THE DISCOVERY AND DEFINITION
THE DISCOVERY AND DEFINITION

It's all about education

It's all about education

It's all about education

Through our research and interviews, we learned that all of the refugee pain points surrounding credit points back to inadequate or inaccessible education.

Resettlement agencies provide an introduction to basic financial literacy concepts to newly arrived refugees. However, refugees are usually overwhelmed with the amount of new information being provided to them during the first three months after arrival and often don’t retain much of the information. Furthermore, refugees who come to this country with family or community ties have an easier time getting educated on our complex credit system. For those without family or community ties, and especially those with language barriers and low literacy, getting properly educated and achieving financial success are immensely more difficult.

We also mapped the user journey from initial arrival up to 1 year to understand pain points, goals, and how long it would take a refugee family to start building credit in an ideal situation. In the instance that a refugee is well-education on the credit system, they can start repaying their travel loans and building credit after six months in America. By the one year mark, it’s possible for them to have established a superb credit score. But without the right education, this possibility becomes unattainable.

Journey_map

Through our research and interviews, four key insights and design principles emerged to help guide the design of our educational tool:

Insights

  1. The majority of refugees are equipped with smartphones.
  2. Resources aren’t accessible 24/7.
  3. Refugees with a community support system are more successful at understanding and building credit.
  4. Refugees are overwhelmed with short-term problems, and don’t have the tools necessary to set themselves up for long-term financial success.

Design principles

  1. Design it for a smartphone.
  2. Make it accessible from anywhere, at any time.
  3. Leverage the community to help educate.
  4. Design it to support long-term understanding and learning.
  1. Design it for a smartphone.
  2. Make it accessible from anywhere, at any time.
  3. Leverage the community to help educate.
  4. Design it to support long-term understanding and learning.
THE SOLUTION

Introducing Aspire

Introducing Aspire

Our final, prize-winning concept, Aspire, is an app that empowers refugees to make informed financial decisions by providing education through bite-size audio visual modules, available 24/7 and in their native language. Aspire contains three core components: Learn, Practice, and Inspire.

Learn
To provide useful information to refugees at all literacy levels, Aspire provides video and audio lessons in a user’s native language. This is done modularly to avoid overloading them with information. Users can download each lesson so that they can get smart about credit anywhere, anytime (especially on brutally long commutes to and from work), even when they don’t have service or wifi.

Homepage

Homepage

Homepage

Lesson detail page

Lesson Detail Page

Lesson Quiz.2

Lesson Quiz

Homepage

Homepage

Homepage

Homepage

Lesson detail page

Lesson Detail Page

Lesson Detail Page

Lesson Detail Page

Lesson Quiz.2

Lesson Quiz

Lesson Quiz

Lesson Quiz

Practice
To guide refugees into becoming good decision makers, we offer a simple, decision-based game in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” format. This provides users with a safe space to test their knowledge and experience pitfalls without the real-world consequences.

Practice Landing Page

Practice Landing Page

Sample Question

Sample Question

Feedback correct

Feedback—Correct

Feedback incorrect

Feedback—Incorrect

Practice Landing Page

Practice Landing Page

Practice Landing Page

Practice Landing Page

Sample Question

Sample Question

Sample Question

Sample Question

Feedback correct

Feedback—Correct

Feedback—Correct

Feedback—Correct

Feedback incorrect

Feedback—Incorrect

Feedback—Incorrect

Feedback—Incorrect

Inspire
To inspire refugees about what their future could hold, Aspire showcases podcast-like audio and video clips from refugees within their community who have already experienced the American credit system first-hand. New refugees learn how credit works through stories from real people they can relate to. Other refugees can pass along information they wish they knew sooner about credit, success stories around building credit history, and cautionary tales.

Podcast landing page

Podcast Landing Page

Podcast play

Podcast Play

Podcast landing page

Podcast Landing Page

Podcast Landing Page

Podcast Landing Page

Podcast play

Podcast Play

Podcast Play

Podcast Play

Our solution is a flexible platform designed to grow and evolve over time. Together, the Learn, Practice, and Inspire sections create an understanding around what credit is and how it’s affected by paying bills on time, opening up new accounts, and holding onto accounts for extended periods of time.

NEXT STEPS

Getting it built

Getting it built

Our process focused around human-centered design lead to us winning first place, as judged by distinguished reviewers from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Heavenly, Zenith, and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). They chose our concept because of its simplicity, technical-feasibility and impact potential. Our first place win means that our insights and concept will go onto the Refugee Hack Summit’s next phase in improving the refugee crisis. 

The highest priority now is continuing the conversation with refugees, volunteers, and resettlement agencies. Should our concept be built, we expect it to start to alleviate the intense workloads of NGOs like the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (who participated in the Refugee Hack Summit), resettlement agencies, and volunteers. More importantly, it’ll empower refugees in their journey toward financial freedom.

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Website design and content © 2019 Sam Szerlip.

Website design and content © 2019 Sam Szerlip.

Website design and content © 2019 Sam Szerlip.