Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

REI raises funds to support refugee projects through grants given to community groups working with refugees.

REI was founded in 1979 as Refugees International. By 1990 the name had changed to Refugees International Japan, then in 2020 the organization became Refugee Empowerment International.

Yes, REI has it’s own Board and constitution and operates completely independently of any other governmental or non-governmental organization.

The Executive Director is full-time and there is one part-time employee, but all other staff are volunteers from the Japanese and expatriate communities in Japan.

Our volunteers come from a range of backgrounds and include business people, homemakers and students.

Operational Questions

The amount of money REI raises varies from year to year.

In the 40 years of our history, we have raised over 11,500,000 US dollars.

The maximum grant awarded to an individual project is 25,000 US dollars.

The funds go directly to the refugees and local communities. REI has no staff costs overseas. We keep our running costs low thanks to our many pro bono sponsors. Funds are used in Japan to source and select the right projects,  monitoring and evaluation of results followed up by visits.

The maximum grant awarded to an individual project is 25,000 US dollars.

The exact amount awarded depends on the individual project and budget plan. NGOs may reapply for further grants if the program is making an impact and showing sustainability.

REI supports projects that address the needs of the whole community. This ensures that many individuals are given opportunities for a brighter future.

The majority of refugees want to stay near home. REI funds address this by supporting projects for second country refugees (refugees who have fled from their own country into a neighbouring country), and IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) or returnees in their country of origin. REI does not support asylum seekers.

REI’s volunteer status and valuable sponsorship from our private and corporate sponsors means that costs are kept to a minimum.

Project Questions

REI has specific criteria for deciding how to allocate funds.

We support projects which directly assist refugees or those internally displaced due to conflict. We also support projects for returning refugees as they settle back in their country of origin.

REI provides assistance to vulnerable populations, particularly women, children and the elderly. We select projects run by organizations and NGOs with a proven track record and favor working through small community based organizations who have first-hand knowledge of the local situation.

In some cases our grant will be used as a bridging fund to enable larger projects to start or continue while the NGO involved seeks funding from governments or aid agencies.

REI funds projects that empower and enable beneficiaries to become independent of aid. We empower through four pillars: Job Creation; Education; Environment and Community Building; Human and Legal Rights.

REI activities are primarily fund-raising for NGO-run projects and awareness raising.

The projects funded are run by refugees and members of the host community to ensure continuity and, thus, sustainable outcomes. REI does not have any staff in the field.

REI supports projects all over the world, principally in developing or war-affected countries that have large populations of refugees and IDPs. Over the past 35 years we have supported more than 500 projects in over 50 countries in Africa, South America, Asia and Eastern Europe.

REI requests and reviews detailed budget proposals and reports from our supported projects. We visit funded projects, and monitor our project partners through refugee agencies and other contacts in the field.