With the average amount of time for someone to be a refugee set at around 20 years, Sasha Chanoff, the founder of privately owned and funded Refuge Point, is looking to revolutionise not only the way we view refugees, but also the refugee protection system, and how it handles their resettlement.
“We help refugees permanently relocate to the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries around the world when they are in life-threatening jeopardy overseas. We also help refugees to establish themselves in countries to which they fled with business and self-reliance opportunities so they don’t need humanitarian aid.”
Its no secret that we have a global refugee crisis on our hands at the moment, and according to Chanoff, “the aid system is broken”. He states its two fundamental flaws as: a lack of continuous funding for emergency aid to consolidate for the now 65 million refugees worldwide – which is set to grow rather than diminish; and the idea that people will return home when home is safe, is no longer the truth, due to continuous conflict and persecution. In order to tackle this, Refuge Point have a three year plan from 2016 – 2018.
The three pillars behind it are resettlement and child protection; stabilization and self-reliance; and field building. The resettlement and child protection element aims to “increase the volume and geographic reach of resettlement [and child protection deployments], bringing equitable access to the above, up to 50% of host countries in Africa.” They acknowledge that children are the most at-risk, yet are the least protected, and look to combat this issue. The stabilization and self-reliance part looks to “have 90% of core clients stabilized within 6 months, and at least 50% of clients become self reliant in 24 months” by the end of their plan, as well as to expand Community Volunteer Worker programs, which encourage a sense of community and stability. The last pillar–field building–includes influencing and sharing innovations with NGOs, governments, the UN Refugee Agency, among other key players, and helping shape and inform mass media campaigns. This part is akin to marketing in any other business plan. All three elements include correspondence and cooperation with other NGOs, as well as internal monitoring to keep progress, policy, and ‘promising practices’ on track with their goals.
However, none of the above are possible without sufficient funds. This organisation is privately funded, which means they do not compete with other organisations for government funding, but seek this resource elsewhere.
“Our investors have met many of the refugees that we have helped, and they’ve seen that these are people who have gone on to inspire others, to build companies, who can change how people think about refugees. And that’s why people invest in us.”
Chanoff and his organisation took part in this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit, an opportunity for entrepreneurs to meet investors, partake in networking workshops, listen in on ignite talks and more. In order to fund and execute their three year plan, they are looking to investors, the UN Refugee Agency, governments and other key actors. Thus, pitching their aims to the international world stage for entrepreneurship, which focused this year on “young people – especially women – from underdeveloped areas in the world to build businesses that better the lives of those willing to take a risk on their ideas – and those willing to back them with capital,” was a huge step in the right direction.
Having been coined the “Champion of Change” by the White House last year, and receiving the Harvard Gleitsman International Activist Award, Refuge Point is steadily gaining momentum. This is a great step toward creating peace in the hearts of the millions of displaced people around the globe, as well as changing the popular perspective of what it means to be a refugee.