The Tarjimly app provides on-demand volunteers, like translators and interpreters, to refugees and humanitarian organizations by using machine learning matching to mobilize millions of people’s remote skills.
Where: We are headquartered in the US, but our team, volunteers, and impact is global, primarily in Europe and the Middle East.
Since when: 2016
The target: Our goal by 2021 is to improve the lives of 1 million refugees by eliminating language barriers through the help of 10 million global volunteers.
Our team volunteered in refugee camps in Greece and Turkey and saw firsthand just how crippling the language barrier can be. Every bilingual volunteer spent most of their time translating for medics, lawyers, and coordinators, but there were too few, and machine translation failed in these crises. The same language barrier and calls for translators filled my newsfeed during the US travel ban, border crisis, and Rohingya crisis. And the same language barrier affected resettled refugees like my grandmother daily. We started Tarjimly to give all these refugees their voice back.
Tarjimly is an app that helps refugees and NGOs communicate by connecting them with a volunteer translator in just 60 seconds. We are merging a community solution with a technology solution by training and connecting thousands volunteers to people in need with our machine learning matching algorithm. There are 25 million refugees, half of whom have smartphone and internet access now, and 3 billion bilinguals who can help them, most from diaspora communities looking for a way to give back.
Today our app is on Facebook Messenger, but our mobile app will allow us to grow exponentially and give every refugee and humanitarian a translator in their pocket. The mobile app:
• provides data at scale for the humanitarian sector that will support refugee needs assessments
• improves privacy and communication features such as phone calling and document translation
• optimizes our algorithm and 10x our volunteer pool with Corporate Volunteer Programs for multilingual employees
• will be the first trusted communication channel between NGOs and refugees that’s localized and global
• will host our Paid Refugee Translator program that provides a sustainable economic empowerment pathway for multilingual refugees.
The impact on refugees' lives
We measure positive impact through the number of weekly sessions and recurring sessions. This maps to refugees being served consistently in times of need. And we measure sustainable impact through the number of refugees we can provide paid translator opportunities. We sustainably improve the lives of refugees by giving them the right to be understood and maintain our belief in distributive justice by giving them free access to language help on their own phones. This means no refugee would be denied quality services because of their language, which improves outcomes across health, asylum, education, and employment.
Aziz and Atif are two best friends from MIT who quit our jobs in Silicon Valley to work on Tarjimly full-time in 2017. Atif is from a refugee and immigrant family and was awarded Silicon Valley Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and the Martin Luther King Service Award. Aziz has a Masters degree in Computer Science and Natural Language Processing and worked on optimizing aid delivery to Syrian refugees at Palantir. We have a talented team of 10 part-time staff and 8 advisors, many whom are refugees themselves and are experts in SaaS technology, translation, and disaster response. We have been funded by Y Combinator, Echoing Green, Fast Forward, and Innerspace, and chosen as a top social enterprise by the Vatican challenge to help 10 million displaced people.
Our translators are from 95 countries, speak 82 languages, and volunteered over 7,000 hours this year. They now do 3,000 translations weekly. We made volunteering as addictive as Instagram (60% weekly engagement). This year, our 7,000 volunteers helped over 15,000 refugees and aid workers in some of the most critical scenarios a person can experience. Tarjimly Translators were there for Iraqi women at a Greek trauma center and Syrian women in medic tents. A Congolese woman waited months for her US asylum interview, only to find out that her interpreter was unavailable, so Tarjimly connected her to an interpreter who was a resettled refugee in France. Tarjimly was there for 12 refugees who capsized in the Mediterranean and the NGO trying to save them needed an interpreter to call the Turkish coast guard with their coordinates. That interpreter was a designer sitting in her living room in LA when she instantly became part of those refugee’s rescue!
Our future goals, thanks to your donations
Our goal is to register 1 million volunteers and empower 100,000 refugees with language access by the end of 2019. By raising 1 million dollars we can drive the cost of each session down to $1 with the goal of helping 1 million refugees by 2021. We are confident we can do this with our mobile app and by building key partnerships in the NGO community and Silicon Valley - we want to start the Humanitarian Engineering movement. Our goal is to partner and bridge talent from companies like Google, Amazon, and Twilio with humanitarians like the UNHCR, IRC, MSF, Red Cross, and the refugees they support. We believe we can meet the quality standards that refugees deserve through our Certified Translator program and we can sustainably empower 10,000 refugees next year through our paid Refugee Translator Program. Every dollar from our generous donors will help a new refugee.
More about us …
Our Company www.tarjim.ly