Dalhousie team wins Global Final top honours with app hiding safety resources for victims of domestic violence

Team from Dalhousie UniversityAfter witnessing domestic violence frequently while growing up in Bangladesh, Dahousie University students, and siblings, Anik and Anamika Ahmed wanted to find a way to provide safe access to resources for women in need.

Their proposed solution, Mitro – a one-stop solution for safety, security and emergency situations for women in Bangladesh – was the winning project at the 2022 World’s Challenge Challenge Global Final. The brother-sister team placed first out of 16 teams representing universities from around the world and took home the top prize of $30,000.

“Honestly, we weren’t expecting to win. There were many great ideas. We were overwhelmed but we also worked really hard. Winning the prize money means the app gets a little more life added and the support we needed,” said Anamika, the app’s developer and a second-year student in Dalhousie’s Masters in Applied Computer Science program.

Camouflaged as a recipe app to keep abusers from knowing a victim is seeking help, Mitro switches back and forth between the Mitro interface and the recipe interface. Its emergency button feature, when pushed, sends a message and GPS location of the user to a list of pre-selected contacts to alert friends and family to the emergency. In addition, Mitro offers resources and support services through a 24/7 automated chat bot. 

“Our app aims to provide resources to empower women regardless of their situation and make it possible for them to seek help safely. Unfortunately, we’ve seen domestic violence in our country and culture and in others, and it happens across all classes of society. The purpose is to provide safety and make them feel less alone,” said Anamika.

The team was given the opportunity to represent Dalhousie at the Global Final after first winning their local World’s Challenge Challenge (WCC) competition. With third-year Bachelor of Commerce student Anik’s background in business and Anamika’s focus on technology development, the pair say their skillsets complement each other’s well.

“Prior to the WCC the idea was in its initial stage. Anik and I nourished the idea a lot for WCC and we had mentors from Dalhousie who provided feedback for us to continue to grow our idea. Now, we plan to continue to do research and keep working on developing the app further.”

The World’s Challenge Challenge asks students to form interdisciplinary teams and come up with a solution to a global issue based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Participating universities host their own campus competitions, with the winning teams advancing to the Global Final – a four-day summit hosted by Western featuring speakers, networking and mentoring opportunities and culminating in the final pitch competition.

“The best thing about the week was seeing what other people’s minds can come up with. Everyone there was part of our generation and it’s amazing to see what they can offer to the world to make it a better place,” he said.

While both Anamika and Anik have plans to pursue careers in their respective fields in addition to working on their project, both also say they will continue looking for ways to contribute to society and encourage others to do the same.

“I would tell others that if you feel there is a problem and you have a solution, trust yourself. Do research, figure out if there is a market and make some connections,” said Anamika.

“I think we were successful because we saw an issue ever since childhood that we thought needed to addressed,” said Anik. “If there’s a problem, there’s a solution. The sky’s the limit.”