Our History

RefugePoint was founded in 2005 to identify refugees who fall through the cracks of humanitarian aid. Initially providing life-saving care to HIV+ refugees in Nairobi, Kenya, the agency grew quickly, adding a range of services to support those with the most urgent needs. Over time, RefugePoint developed a unique, full-service response model for assisting urban refugees and facilitating their self-reliance.

Simultaneously, the organization saw that tens of thousands of resettlement slots were going unused annually and built a unique resettlement program that now partners with the UN Refugee Agency in 30 countries across the globe.

Here’s a look back at some of the milestones we’ve accomplished since 2005:


RefugePoint was founded to help resettle and provide life-saving medical care to a group of HIV+ refugees. Later that year, we launched the Urban Refugee Protection Program to address the holistic needs of at-risk refugees.The program now provides support to 1,500 of Nairobi’s most vulnerable refugees and Kenyans annually.


In 2005, we made our first referral for resettlement, and in 2008 we began partnering with UNHCR to help more at-risk refugees access resettlement. From 2005-2020, our Experts have worked in 214 locations across 44 countries and helped to refer more than 87,000 refugees for resettlement.


We worked with UNHCR to train over 20 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across Africa on identifying refugees for resettlement. We later co-created a resettlement toolkit with UNHCR and partner NGOs to use globally. As of 2020, we’ve trained more than 6,000 partner staff on resettlement. Photo: © UNHCR/J.Babb


We conducted our first child protection mission. Following its success to protect and help resettle unaccompanied children, we sent a team of Child Protection Experts to a number of locations to fill significant gaps, reach more children in need, and train others to do this work. From 2011-2020, our 40 Child Protection Experts have worked in 154 locations in 19 countries and have helped 14,252 refugee children.


We began a program to recruit and hire refugee community health workers in Nairobi to serve people in their communities. These staff are best placed to discuss sensitive health issues and explain how to access local services. As of 2020, we now have a team of community health workers that reaches 10,000 refugees annually with important health and safety information.


We launched a livelihoods program to help urban refugees in Nairobi to achieve a higher level of self-reliance, and a better quality of life. We provide business training, grants, and other support to help refugees start or build small businesses. As of 2020, we have helped to launch or expand 1,280 refugee businesses.


We began guiding clients through our self-reliance runway model, assessing a client’s unique and individual needs along their journey to self-reliance. As of 2020, 3,265 refugees have graduated from the services we offer through our Urban Refugee Protection Program, thanks to income from small businesses.


In order to better influence global policy and practice, we established a permanent presence in Geneva, Switzerland, where we can amplify our voice in high-level policy conversations and share field-based knowledge and best practices with global partners.


Through our global partnership with UNHCR, we expanded our work beyond Africa to Malaysia, and later to Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon to enable refugees to safely relocate to more than a dozen countries around the world where they can rebuild their lives.


We worked with UNHCR to build what became the largest resettlement program in the world to evacuate unaccompanied minors and other refugees from dangerous detention centers in Libya, and find other refugees threatened by traffickers in Africa, and resettle them to countries in the European Union and North America. The hub of this resettlement effort was the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Niger to which many refugees were evacuated before traveling on to resettlement countries.


In partnership with the Women’s Refugee Commission, we launched the Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative (RSRI) in order to expand self-reliance opportunities for refugees and build a global network of organizations, foundations, governments, and other partners focused on refugee self-reliance.


Together with Canadian partners, we launched the Economic Mobility Pathways Project, which aims to help qualified refugees in Kenya and the Middle East access immigration to Canada through work-based visas. In 2019, the Canadian employer with whom we are partnering issued job offers to 85% of the candidates interviewed.


In collaboration with UNHCR and the International Refugee Assistance Project, we launched the Family Reunification Pilot Project, to help reunite unaccompanied and separated children with their family members in safe third countries. Since the project’s launch to date (2020), RefugePoint has referred 422 individuals to reunite with their families.


As part of the Self Reliance Initiative and in collaboration with 25+ partnering NGOs, we launched the Self-Reliance Index (SRI), the first-ever global tool to measure the progress of a refugee household on its path to self-reliance. As of November 2020, the SRI and supporting materials have been downloaded more than 650 times, and there are currently 8 active partners using the tool in 7 countries. Download the tool here!


As of November 2020, we had helped 87,503 refugees to access pathways to relocate to safety. Through training, global policy influence, and other activities, we’ve contributed to a global system that has referred 1.5 million refugees for resettlement in the past 15 years (2005-2020).


The first economic mobility candidates relocated to Canada through the Economic Mobility Pathways Project. RefugePoint partnered with UNHCR, Talent Beyond Boundaries, and the Canadian government to expand access to labor mobility, a new pathway to safety for refugees.


We deepened our direct engagement and support of community-based organizations serving refugees in Nairobi, Kenya. Recognizing the critical role that these organizations play as first responders in the community, we listened to, supported, and partnered with a group of community-based organizations, many of which are refugee-led organizations.


Following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, RefugePoint was among the founding partners for the Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans. The program allowed communities in the U.S. to welcome displaced Afghans by pairing refugee families with groups of Americans who have committed to receiving them and received training to do so. In 2022, this program expanded exponentially and connected Afghan newcomers with sponsor groups in over 20 states.


The RefugePoint deployment program grew both in size and geographic reach in 2022. We started the year with Resettlement, Child Protection, and Family Reunification Experts working in 21 countries worldwide and ended with Experts working in 37 countries, including Bangladesh to support the resettlement of Rohingya refugees and Pakistan to support Afghan refugees. In September, as part of this upscaling, we launched a Pilot Traineeship Program in collaboration with UNHCR to deploy experts in refugee resettlement around the world.