Doing our part

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Community Database

Connecting people to services

Currently, we are in the process of developing a directory of available service providers within the community. While here in Egypt, we noticed that although there were many skilled Sudanese in the refugee community, they were often overlooked when customers needed particular services. This was true even for the Sudanese themselves. Instead of subscribing to their fellow Sudanese, they would patronize services from other nationalities. The message was clear to us. "How could a people become stronger if its citizens don't support its local service providers?"


We researched the reasons why Sudanese service providers were being overlooked here in Egypt and found many. For example, we found that refugees were forbidden to hold jobs while in Egypt. This alone would be enough to close any attempts at a project like what we are proposing. But we examined the possibility of Sudanese 'helping' other Sudanese and found that this would not conflict with Egyptian Law.


In order for the Sudanese subscriber to locate a qualified Sudanese service provider, he mostly relied on word of mouth. One would ask another for a particular service provider and if he found none, normally he would pay someone from another nationality for the service he needed. This is a major source of financial decay within the refugee society because it ensured that no money stay within the community. We felt that in order to encourage financial independence, we needed to instill a nationalistic appreciation for keeping the finances inside the circle of refugees here.


Our answer to this was to create an electronic directory of service providers. In it, would be a dynamic collection of various skill holders that people with needs could browse to find available service providers. Services such as child care, automobile mechanics, tutors and many more could be researched from a website or even a monthly printed version. The dynamic nature of the directory would ensure growth or attrition due to service providers adding their names to the database or administration removing a service provider failing to meet the standards of the Directory System.


By creating this Directory, we feel that we would restore the entrepreneur spirit that is seemingly dormant in the Sudanese refugee community. We also hope that such a directory will teach the people, for which it serves, the need to keep the finances within the hands of their community and therefore strengthen their small fragile economy. Finally, we feel that this Directory will improve the nationalistic view of the Sudanese people who have been displaced from their own country.


The steps to create this Directory starts with design of the system that will allow the service providers to input their information such as: Service that he/she provides; Contact information; Experience. The system will allow for updating of information in order to keep the service providers' status current in the database. A person with needs of services can browse the directory to locate a provider that he or she needs and will be able to contact the provider to arrange for the service or collect location information as to where the service is provided. There will also be a 'comments' or 'ratings' section that the person could use to define how well the provider did with his/her service.


Providers would have to follow a quality of standard that teaches customer service. This collection of objectives must be met in order for the provider to be listed in the Directory. For example, if administration does a random check of the service provider's telephone number and finds that it is switched off during working hours, he will be removed from the Directory. This redefines customer service and adds a competitive element to the Directory.


In summary, the system's content would be provided by the people. Its users would also be by the people and the administration of the system would be performed by individuals outside of the refugee community to prevent preferential treatment.


We are excited about the results of this Directory and hope that its structure could be replicated in other countries.


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