Today, 29th March 2017, the World Economic Forum and the Schwab Foundation awards the co-founders of Refugees United (REFUNITE), Christopher and David Mikkelsen, as Social Entrepreneurs of the Year. The brothers launched the non-profit organisation in 2008 with the goal to reunite refugee families who had been separated as a result of displacement. This prestigious award recognises the co-founding brothers for their efforts to reconnect displaced people with their loved ones through creation of the world's largest missing persons network, REFUNITE.
With over 65.3 million individuals forcibly displaced around the world, many get separated and lose contact with their family members. Most likely they also don’t have resources to search for those they have lost or stay in touch with them. REFUNITE allows reunification of refugees at a low cost through SMS and social media like Facebook. The non-profit works closely with the United Nations and Ericsson, a collection of mobile networks, to enable communication among separated individuals and to bring attention to the effects of losing contact with loved ones during displacement. With over 600,000 profiles, REFUNITE has created an online global data base, which covers 14 different countries including South Africa, Kenya, Liberia and Iraq.
“There's only one thing that keeps you rooted in this world, and that's family”, says Christopher Mikkelsen.
Co-founders Christopher and David Mikkelsen were named two of the 25 most daring individuals in America by magazines such as Vanity Fair and WIRED. The brothers work on connecting non-profits and the private sector through social innovations and as international speakers. Christopher and David have been recognized in Magazines such as TIME, The BBC and The Huffington Post.
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is an independent non-profit organisation that highlights innovations and advances of social entrepreneurs, who are recognised as agents of change. Based in Switzerland, The Schwab Foundation partners with the World Economic Forum to annually acknowledge the leading social entrepreneurs who are goal oriented towards making the world a better place.
“Social entrepreneurs are crucial to the global conversation about inclusive growth; they are innovators who use market forces and business discipline to provide solutions for local problems and improve the lives of low-income and marginalized people”, says Katherine Milligan, Head of the Schwab Foundation.
REFUNITE took part in the Aid & Development Africa Summit 2017, which focused on innovations and technology solutions to improve aid and development strategies in East Africa. REFUNITE’s Director of Global Communication and Strategy Ida Jeng participated as a speaker on a panel, which looked into emergency communication, connectivity and social networks.