About Us

Who we are

Refugee Empowerment International is an independent non-profit organization registered in Japan and Australia that raises funds to support projects for people displaced by violence, conflict or persecution around the world. Projects that enable people to give back to the community and make valuable contributions to the local economy as well as rebuilding their own future.

What we do

REI funds support projects that provide opportunities for people to lead an independent normal life while staying near to home and their loved ones. We prioritize partnerships over intervention and direct implementation. This approach enables communities to utilize local talents and skills, and available resources in the most effective way leading to sustainable outcomes. We work towards a world where refugees around the globe are given the tools and means to develop their own future and give back to their communities.

The maximum amount awarded to an individual project per year is US$25,000. Since 1979, REI has funded more than 800 projects worth cumulatively over US$11 million.

How we do it

We listen to the voices of refugees, IDPs (internally displaced people), returnees as well as the local communities in the host country to understand what they can do and what they want to do. We observe the results of our funding to ensure continued sustainability.

We select projects that empower through four pillars: education, job creation, legal and human rights, and environment and community building.

Click on the image on left to open the Strategic Plan 2021 – 2025

Who we support

REI funding supports refugees, IDPs (internally displaced persons) and returnees (refugees returning home) – people who are some of the world’s most vulnerable.

It is not the refugee outflows that cause terrorism, it is terrorism, tyranny and war that create refugees.

Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2005–2015
Definition of a refugee

A refugee is a person who “Owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” This definition also applies to people who have been displaced within their own country (IDPs).

Currently war and armed conflict uproots an average of 30,000 people every day worldwide, decimating their lives and entire communities. Globally the number of forcibly displaced people is estimated at 79.5 million, but is likely to be higher. This constitutes one percent of the global population or more than 50 percent of the population of Japan.

Refugees are people just like you and me. They come from all walks of life. They are doctors, IT graduates, teachers, artists, farmers, business people, academics, students, children and many others. They want what we want: sustenance, shelter, medical care, education for their children and themselves, and most of all, a normal life with dignity and a clearer future. REI exists to provide opportunities for refugees to reach these aims, which most of us often take for granted.

Our Values

REI operates according to a strict code of accountability and transparency, so that you can see for yourself exactly where, when and how your donation is making a difference. We assess all funding applications against strict criteria. Recipients of funds must provide references, audited accounts and written reports. REI will undertake field visits to assess a situation at first hand.

Our approach to selecting projects emphasizes community and sustainability. Community involvement is essential to ensure that projects effectively address the specific needs of each community in a way that is sustainable and far-reaching. Correspondingly, the emphasis on sustainability ensures that beneficiary communities do not become reliant on funding, but rather develop self-sufficient means of rebuilding the strength within the community.

Investing in the Future

Through empowering individuals to become self-sufficient, we are building stronger communities.


Beneficiaries from the projects go on to use the skills and knowledge they have gained.

By refugees, for refugees

The projects are run by the local community, we have no staff in the field.


Recover, rediscover and rebuild: people need time to get through the trauma of displacement ready to rediscover their skills and talents (and learn new ones) so they can rebuild.

Bottom-up empowerment is at the core of our funding support – the projects are run by the beneficiaries and the local community, ensuring a better integration and understanding of the local context, leading to more effective interventions. We know, from years of experience, that refugees are capable of empowering themselves through the opportunities that are provided to them by the local communities in their host countries.

REI is registered NPO no. 0104-05-015803