October 4, 2010, REDWOOD CITY, Calif. and BARCELONA — Omidyar Network today announced a grant of up to $2.6M over three years to Refugees United, a nonprofit organization that uses an online forum and mobile phones to help refugees reunite with family. The grant will be used to expand the nonprofit’s operations by augmenting its technology platforms, recruiting developers, and developing new partnerships with international refugee agencies. Stephen King, senior director, investments at Omidyar Network, made the announcement at the Personal Democracy Forum conference in Barcelona.
The United Nations estimates there are 43M refugees around the world and millions are seeking missing loved ones. Refugees United maintains a secure missing persons database and tracing tool that can be accessed via online and mobile platforms. The free service is available in 19 languages and contains searchable information on refugees of 82 nationalities. The profiles of the missing are completely anonymous but identifiable to family members through information only they would recognize, such as nicknames. To help register refugees onto the platform, Refugees United works with organizations ‘on the ground,’ such as the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.
“Since its founding two years ago, Refugees United has registered thousands of refugees and helped reunite many families. With Omidyar Network’s expertise in using technology to scale organizations, we’re confident we can help expand Refugees United’s reach to impact hundreds of thousands or millions of lives through their platform,” said King. “We’re honored to be a part of this work and positively affect so many families around the world.”
Through its Technology for Government Transparency investment area, Omidyar Network invests in organizations that use technology to provide access to information and tools necessary for citizens to participate in the governing process, shape outcomes important to them, and hold governments to account. Over the last two years, the firm has granted over $23M to a dozen organizations as a result of this focus. At the recent Clinton Global Initiative, Omidyar Network pledged an additional $30M over the next three years, and Refugees United’s is the second grant against that commitment.
"With the support of Omidyar Network, Refugees United gains access not only to significant funding to further develop our tools to help separated refugee families, but also to a vast network of experience and deep knowledge of digital platforms and how to scale these,” said David Troensegaard, co-founder of Refugees United. “We are proud to join Omidyar Network."
About Refugees United
Refugees United is a fully independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to provide refugee families with a global, anonymous and user-driven tracing system to help them reconnect with missing loved ones. Refugees can register on the Refugees United search site using information such as nicknames, scars, former locations and the like that is recognizable only to family and close friends. No third party is involved in Refugees United, either in the organization or the running and supervision of the search tool. For more information, please visit www.refunite.org.
About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $363 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including microfinance, entrepreneurship, property rights, consumer Internet, mobile technology, and government transparency. To learn more about Omidyar Network, please visit www.omidyar.com.