"You just can't imagine how important it is for children who survived the horror of war to return, even for a moment, to a past peaceful life"
- Victoria, refugee
The project in brief
The project is implemented by Afrilanthropy and partners in Europe and the Americas. It began in September 2022 and is currently ongoing.
Riding the Rainbow is a platform fostering connections and aiding young refugees globally. Originally created to help distribute sports items to Ukrainian war refugees in Luxembourg, it has evolved into a free app with users in over a dozen countries. The platform facilitates the giving of many different types of pre-loved items by directly connecting residents to those in need. It thereby not only promotes the circular economy but also solidarity and social integration.
Riding the Rainbow aims to bring a sense of normalcy and independence to young refugees while fomenting solidarity within towns, across borders and continents.
Main activities of the Good Practice
"Riding the Rainbow" is a platform fostering connections and aiding young refugees globally. Created to help distribute sports items for Ukrainian war refugees in Luxembourg, it has evolved into a global app that facilitates the donation of many different types of pre-loved items by directly connecting residents to those in need. It thereby not only promotes the circular economy but also solidarity, as it connects refugees and locals by redistributing pre-loved items without intermediation.
The collaboration with nonprofits, notably Equiclick, exemplifies the project's ability to create synergies within the humanitarian ecosystem. By referring adult refugees to Equiclick, the project ensures a comprehensive approach to addressing diverse needs. The joint initiative to send 70 used children's bikes to Ukraine demonstrates the far-reaching impact and collaborative spirit.
Recognition, both locally and globally, is a testament to the project's innovative approach. Media coverage and acclaim from Vatican News and other outlets underscore Riding the Rainbow's alignment with values of compassion and solidarity.
With personalised user profiles, a “solidarity map” is being created where organizations can post their locations and profiles, and a second-hand item exchange feature. App users also receive regular notifications on solidarity events and volunteering opportunities.
Seed funding from local foundations as well as the Ministry of the Family in Luxembourg provided financing for the start-up costs related to software development and project management.
Connections to a skilled project manager and software developers in Ukraine, thanks to the presence of Ukrainian refugees in Luxembourg, also helped create a product that responded to the needs of those it was aiming to serve.
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
"Riding the Rainbow" encountered notable challenges despite its significant success.
The biggest difficulty has been in reaching a critical mass of users. While many individuals have attended our awareness-raising events and hundreds have joined, the app relies on rather widespread usage in order to best function as a platform for exchange of specific goods.
Another challenge has been overcoming the habit of people throwing away unused stuff or relying on third parties for their reuse. Many people are often reluctant or at times afraid of meeting unknown beneficiaries. The app has included several guidelines and security features to make donations safe.
Some refugees have faced technological barriers to using all app features as well.
Collaborations with nonprofits, while fruitful, brought about complexities in aligning objectives and strategies.
Sustaining the project's momentum and impact relies on securing additional funds. Despite plans for new features and improvements, the realization of these goals is, for the moment, still contingent on philanthropic support.
How they were overcome
Engagement of local ambassadors and media outreach has been key to overcoming fears expressed by the local community. Giving visibility to such meetings and the joy being generated by the exchanges encouraged more people to use the app.
Strengthening collaborations with local nonprofits: partnership with nonprofits working directly with refugees and offering them visibility on the platform has been key to allowing Riding the Rainbow to expand the user base among that population. In addition, Riding the Rainbow has been open to the ideas of organizations serving vulnerable individuals more generally and is considering expanding in a way that responds to refugees’ needs but does not target them specifically.
Agile approach to technological challenges: the project adopted a user-centric approach, seeking regular feedback from its user community. It swiftly responded to their concerns and suggestions. As a result, the app has been adjusted and become as user-friendly as possible.
Diversified funding strategy for financial sustainability: Recognizing the need for sustained funding, a diversified strategy aligned with philanthropic support is being developed. It includes white-labelling the underlying “marketplace” technology and selling it , and expanding to include civic activities of all types. Municipalities, for example, could become users and pay an annual fee for the service of advertising events and other information through the app.
Results of the Good Practice
- Enhanced Social Integration: Refugees joined local sports clubs, fostering community connections.
- Job Opportunities: Some adult refugees discovered employment opportunities through relationships established with local donors.
- Global Connections: The platform connected 800 refugee children in Luxembourg and 500 children more across 13 countries.
- Collaborative Humanitarian Initiatives: Collaborations with nonprofits, like Equiclick, facilitated joint initiatives, such as sending 70 bikes to Ukraine for internally displaced children and war orphans.
- Recognition and Support: The project earned global acclaim, including recognition from Vatican News, establishing itself as a leader in innovative solutions for social impact.
When we came to Luxembourg, it was hard for us: new country, new life, but thanks to your support, we felt that we were cared for. Thank you for your work, and for not stopping and helping those in need.
– Alina, refugee
In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?
Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries
By promoting social integration, connecting refugees with local communities, and providing tangible support through the redistribution of pre-loved items, the project contributes to easing the pressures on host countries. It fosters positive connections and collaborations between refugees and locals, promoting a sense of shared community. It also help organizations working with refugees secure items needed for their activities.
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
The project goes beyond traditional aid by facilitating opportunities for refugees to join local sports clubs and discover job opportunities. By enhancing social integration and self-reliance, it empowers refugees to actively participate and contribute to their host communities.
The project envisions continued growth and impact. The next steps include:
- Expanding the scope into a wider gateway for solidarity hub, including notification of relevant events and volunteering opportunities.
- Integrating a chatbot for refugees which can enhance the search for items but also provide broader information to help their integration journey.
- Seeking additional funding, with a forthcoming request to the Oeuvre Foundation (Luxembourg), to bridge the gap to sustainability.
- Developing a white-label solution for marketplace technology to generate revenue for ongoing philanthropic endeavors within Luxembourg.
- Implementing new features, including kitchen equipment and shoes categories, and introducing gamification for interactive user engagement by the end of 2023.
The project aims to build on its success, adapt to lessons learned, and secure support for continued positive impact.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
Yes, support is crucial for the project's continued success and scalability:
- Financial Assistance: Additional funds are needed for the ongoing development of new features and the sustainability of the project.
- Collaborative Partnerships: Building strategic partnerships with organisations, both locally and globally, can use the app in their respective countries, enhancing the project's reach and effectiveness.
- Technical Expertise: Support from tech experts and developers can contribute to the continuous improvement and innovation of the mobile app.
- Networking Opportunities: Opportunities for networking and collaboration with other initiatives can provide valuable insights and resources.
- Advocacy and Awareness: Assistance in advocacy and raising awareness about the project's goals and impact can help garner more support from various stakeholders.
Emanuele Santi, President and co-founder, Afrilanthropy; Tetiana Melnychuk, Riding the Rainbow Project Manager; Maria João Carvalho, Grants Manager, Afrilanthropy; Deolinda Martins, Partnership Advisor, Afrilanthropy