Focus, grow organically and emphasize the human factor. These were in a nutshell the advices IKEA experts gave the Welcome Card team when they met at IKEA headquarters in Älmhult in November last year. The Welcome Card is one of the five finalist projects of the WDCD Refugee Challenge, entered by an international team of designers from Italy and Sweden.

The basic idea of the Welcome Card is a card with RFID-chip issued to everybody who applies for asylum in a EU country. The radio-frequency identification technology (RFID) enables refugees to check their application status when the card is paired to a reader. It offers a way to display one’s asylum application status, while providing official information from relevant immigration agencies and related organizations.

The temporary identification card also provides details about language courses, transport and relevant events. Moreover, it gives holders peace of mind and dignity as they plan their lives.

Inspiring insights

‘The meeting with five representatives of the product, strategy and business development departments at IKEA was very inspiring’, Veronica Polinedrio of the Welcome Card team told WDCD. ‘We analysed and discussed in depth each component of the Welcome Card and were very grateful to learn about IKEA’s Democratic Process and to profit from their insightful experience.’

The team left the meeting with three key insights, Polinedrio explained. ‘The first is “Focus, focus, focus”. The Welcome Card offers many possibilities and introduces new opportunities, but it is important to narrow down its initial scope to be able to scale its progress.

‘Secondly we were advised to grow organically. As a team, we need to build our business case and measure our impact with small scale pilots, using analogue prototyping and user tests to validate our financial and social value propositions. Finally, there was the counsel to emphasize the human factor behind the application numbers. The Welcome Card is a solution that originated from an applied human-centred design methodology. With a strong social value proposition, we should continue to tell the story from the perspective of the thousand asylum seekers currently waiting for a solution of this type.’

Research and prototypes

In the past months the team has been working on elaboration of the concept on the basis of extensive research among asylum seekers, locals and volunteers/staff at refugee homes and local authorities in both Sweden and Italy, mock-ups and prototypes of the card and on further development of the business model.

Asked about her feelings about the entire process so far, Polinedrio says: ‘It has been very creative: we’ve come a long way since our early concept and we keep seeing opportunities for development and scaling. We are also happy to see that there’s much interest and enthusiasm for our idea!’

The Welcome Card team will present the project in the stage it has reached at the Grand Finale of the Refugee Challenge on 7 March in Amsterdam. The event is for invited guests only, but we are giving away ten invitations among everyone who shares our post on this event on Facebook!

Top image: mock-up of the app that goes along with the Welcome Card

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