Mission and Vision
We constantly try to improve our technology and search system in order to help more displaced persons globally to find their missing families. At REFUNITE, we measure our progress in a number of ways. These include:
Reach. Our progress is defined by the number of people we can reach and who can easily access our platform through SMS, USSD or web, no matter how off-grid the countries in which they live are.
Number of people registered on the platform, as there is exponentially greater chance of reconnections with more people on the platform. Learning from this, we have adopted a strategy of focusing on specific populations, highly localizing the service for them and growing this specific user based. For instance, REFUNITE is currently focusing efforts on reconnecting Somalis in Somalia and in Kenya.
Number of predicted reconnections. Through our system’s backend we can see when users message each other back and forth, and if they share personal contact information we predict that a reconnection has been made. At this point they typically move off the platform.
Number of reconnections. In certain countries we do carry out surveys calling REFUNITE users to verify reconnections.
Reconnection stories, providing personal, unique and touching stories of our impact.
Everyone has the right to know where their family is. This belief is at the core ofREFUNITE, a nonprofit tech organization whose mission is to reconnect refugee families across the globe with missing loved ones. When families are separated, we put them back in touch. We empower refugees and displaced people to take the search for missing loved ones into their own hands, whether through a mobile phone, a computer or one of our free help lines.
How does your innovation work?
We believe everyone has a right to know where their family is. At REFUNITE, we set out to revolutionize the process of family tracing. With little more than access to a low-cost mobile phone – and in high-need countries, even without Internet access – refugees and displaced people can search for their missing loved ones with the click of a button. REFUNITE offers a simple mobile platform through which displaced people can register, search and reconnect. Our service is accessible via a smartphone or any basic feature phone and is free of charge. Users can register via SMS, USSD, our free hotlines or via our mobile m.refunite.org. REFUNITE collaborates directly and indirectly with twenty mobile operators globally as well as technology companies, such as Free Basics by Facebook and Ericsson. Thanks to these partnerships with mobile operators, REFUNITE has access to 322 million mobile subscribers. REFUNITE’s long-term vision is to scale current family reconnection efforts further, reaching more refugees and displaced people affected by conflict in high-need countries. By scaling our family tracing project, we can improve connectedness among displaced populations across countries. Through our partnerships with mobile operators, we have become embedded in some of the hardest-to-reach places. Building out our technology and partnerships further will allow us register more people and help more families reconnect globally.
REFUNITE’s success relies strongly on its private sector approach and global partnerships, including Ericsson, Facebook, IKEA Foundation and twenty of the world’s largest technology companies and mobile operators. Through this strong multi-country network of partnerships and private sector engagement, REFUNITE is able to work in off-grid regions and to make its service free and available even to the most disconnected populations. Furthermore, our partnerships with mobile network operators means we are able to communicate directly with refugees through their phones. REFUNITE has redefined family tracing by democratizing access to databases and the search process. In the past, people missing family who had exhausted personal networks could only turn to international humanitarian agencies mired in bureaucracy, needing to physically travel to offices to fill out lengthy forms, and waiting for months or years without updates. With our tool, refugees and displaced people are empowered to search a database themselves from the convenience of their own home, using just their mobile phone. There are no forms to fill in and no waiting lists. The power of the search is entirely in the hands of the user.
Planned Goals and Milestones
REFUNITE aims to scale current family reconnection efforts further, focusing on refugees and displaced people separated by conflict; an invisible tragedy that affects families globally. By scaling our family tracing project, we can improve connectedness among displaced populations within and among refugee camps and urban settlements. Having successfully reconnected 20,176 family members, we are in a strong position to reach even more separated families. Through our partnerships with mobile operators, we have become embedded in some of the hardest-to-reach places, such as South Sudan, The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia. Building out our technology and partnerships further will allow us register more people and help more families reconnect globally. Through additional funding, increased visibility and additional partnerships, REFUNITE can significantly expand its reach and develop new technologies that can help more people reconnect where we operate and in new countries. Furthermore, REFUNITE will also optimize the user experience and reconnection rate for users, raising the percentage rate between registrations and reconnections.