Startups for Syria: How Croydon’s startups can make a global difference


By - Friday 11th September, 2015

Jonny Rose announces a homegrown tech initiative created to help humanitarian responses to the Syrian refugee crisis


Image author’s own.

Startups exist to mark their mark on the world

Some people create a startup for a nice bit of passive income or a ‘lifestyle business’, but by and large, when I talk to the founders of Croydon Tech City’s burgeoning cluster, I hear the same response time and time again:

“I want to make my mark on the world”

Startup founders and entrepreneurs see a problem and – unlike the majority who are content to live with it – feel a massive urge to fix it. To the point where they’re prepared to risk health, relationships, sleep, and personal savings to build a solution.

However, there are some problems that won’t wait until you close your next round of funding or until that API integration comes through.

The global refugee crisis

Right now, tens of thousands of people are fleeing civil war and unrest to find new homes in Europe, sometimes with tragic consequences. The UN estimates that more people have been displaced than at any time since World War II.

It took an image to wake up the world to the Syrian refugee crisis. The chilling photograph of toddler Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on the Turkish shores, after a failed attempt to flee to Europe, forced people to start thinking about what it meant that 4 million Syrians had become refugees, and what needed to be done to help them.

“It took the chilling photograph of toddler Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on the Turkish shores to wake up the world”

But what people might not understand is just what they’re fleeing from. The situation in Syria is truly dire: the civil war has killed more than 250,000 people since it began in 2011, and forced about half of Syria’s 22 million people from their homes. What that looks like, in practice, is nearly unimaginable: entire neighbourhoods leveled, and millions of people living in squalid, dangerous conditions.

It’s not just Syrians either. Masses of refugees, from Iraq, Afghanistan and many other countries, have been overwhelming border authorities in several Balkan countries as they try to reach Western Europe. All fleeing abysmal conditions related to war and poverty in their respective countries.

Startups for Syria – a website to help give refugees a new start

Last Friday, I awoke to a message from Andrew Davies, co-founder of idio. Both he and James Griffin (idio’s CTO), along with our friends at CrowdCube and Organic Agency, were moved to hack together a website on which startups could come together to donate money to help alleviate the suffering and support the efforts of approved charitable bodies working in the crisis.

Earlier this week, Startups For Syria was born.

The idea of the site is that startup founders and employees can calculate the cost of a company perk (such as a ‘free’ lunch or breakfast) and donate the cost of that perk to Startups For Syria instead.


Whether you work at a startup or not, please go to Startups For Syria and donate. Thank you very much!

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training and a Linkedin lead generation service. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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