Imagine Haya, a Syrian refugee who has just moved to Rome. She is struggling with basic everyday encounters, but also her religion and the way in which it is misunderstood by the people in her new city. She wants to be able to portray her religion, Islam, for what it really is to the majority Catholic population. She knows that in order to do so she needs to know about the locals and her new environment. However, she does not know how to go about this.
Meanwhile, Francesca is a Catholic woman living in Rome. She wants to find out more about the religious and cultural background of the refugees settling in her community, but like Haya, doesn't know what steps she can take to do so.
And this is where Faithbook enters the picture.
What it does
Faithbook is an application that brings people from different religious backgrounds together with the goal of fostering interfaith and intercultural interactions. The app has two types of users: newcomers and locals. The newcomers are represented by refugees or migrants trying to find a way to connect to their new environment, and also by tourists trying to find out more about the religion and culture of the place they are visiting. Locals are people who have spent an extensive period of time in a specific location and who are willing to share insight into their religion and find out more about the faiths of others.
How it works
Haya starts by creating an account, specifying her name, age, religion, interests and a short bio. She is then presented with a list of locals, including Francesca, who have signed up to both guide and learn about the new members of their community. Haya scrolls through the list, and decides that she would like to meet Francesca. She sends her a request, and Francesca later accepts it, and they decide to meet the following week. Haya is so pleased with her experience that she leaves a review for Francesca which will be visible to her future connections.
In this example we talked about a refugee and a local, but this could also be used by tourists visiting a city for a shorter period of time, who want to explore the religious community, but also by immigrants who are looking to engage with their new community.
In terms of our business model and revenue, in the first phase of our app we would implement a donation system. Tourists using our app would have the option to donate to the app, and their donations would go towards operational costs to continue providing services for free to refugees and migrants. In the second phase, we would partner with local organizations that support refugees.
How we built it
We used AngularJS for the front-end and MongoDB to store user data. We also used Twilio to send notifications to users via text messages.
What's next for Faithbook
In the future we plan to also create a mobile application and develop a stronger matching algorithm.