On April 29, Sasha Chanoff ’94, founder and executive director of RefugePoint, joined other experts in refugee affairs, and leaders from the private sector in a symposium by the UN Foundation. Chanoff participated in two panel discussions led by Raj Kumar, the founding president and editor-in-chief of Devex, the media platform for the global development community.
In “Changing the Paradigm: New Solutions for The Global Refugee Crisis,” Chanoff’s discussion with Ruma Bose, who leads Tent.org, he shared his excitement for “venture philanthropy”—a private-sector role in funding pilot projects—thus stimulating the growth of start-up organizations and alternative solutions.
“Venture Philanthropy…can be a key to addressing this global humanitarian crises that we’re facing,” Chanoff said. “We’ve seen a rise in this….
“This is a space where smaller organizations, or people with really good ideas, can come in. They’re not going to receive government funding, they’re not going to receive UN funding initially. But if they can show that they have an idea that works. that can expand, that can impact many more people—then that funding can follow. There’s a real role for venture philanthropy to come in and stimulate new ideas.”
Chanoff also joined J.J. Messner, executive director of the Fund for Peace; and Shelly Pittermann head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees Office in Washington, D.C., for a discussion on the dimensions of the current crisis.
RefugePoint, Chanoff’s own organization, which he founded in 2005, was one such organization that started small and thrived with help from venture philanthropists. Founded to identify and protect refugees who were not served by other humanitarian organizations—particularly women, children, and urban refugees—RefugePoint now deploys protection officers throughout Africa and have worked in more than 20 different locations across Africa, with people fleeing persecution in the Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi and other war-torn areas.