What we do

The KIOS Foundation supports the work of human rights defenders in East Africa and South Asia. Together with local organisations, we are building a world where human rights belong to everyone.

Every year, we fund approximately 30 NGOs which are fighting for dignity, freedom, equality and justice in their own countries.

The work always stems from the local human rights defenders’ own ideas. We help along the way.


Human rights work makes a difference! Many activists we support work at the grass-roots level in local communities, but some of our grantees also play a role at the pinnacle of human rights politics, such as at the UN Human Rights Council. Our grantees have gathered information about severe human rights violations and brought them to the attention of the international community. They have helped marginalised groups to participate and defend their rights and provided legal aid for thousands of people whose rights have been trampled on. Some of our grantees have increased the human rights awareness of the authorities through training. Many have succeeded in changing the legislation in their countries to take better account of human rights.

Read about the results we have achieved


KIOS is the only civil society actor in Finland which steers direct support to human rights work planned and implemented by civil society in developing countries. In addition to direct funding, we support organisations by strengthening their capacity, networking and safety, and by communicating about their work in Finland. Our goal is a stronger civil society and human rights movement in developing countries and globally.

Browse the funding of organisations by country and theme

Human rights defenders

A human rights defender is any one of us who promotes and defends human rights in a peaceful manner. Human rights can be defended alone or together with others. Human rights defenders are a force for change – they push for improvements in society so that the rights of all people can be realised.

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Themes of our human rights work

Human rights are indivisible, which means that all rights are equally important. That is why KIOS supports the strengthening of all rights, be they social and cultural rights or civil and political rights. Themes of particular importance to us include non-discrimination and gender equality, democracy and the rule of law, and business and human rights.

Non-discrimination and gender equality

All people have equal human dignity and human rights. Men and women have the same rights, as do sexual and gender minorities and other discriminated groups. We support work that promotes gender equality and non-discrimination.

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Democracy and the rule of law

The rule of law and democratic rights have deteriorated pronouncedly in recent years around the world. Civil society defending democratic rights needs our support right now.

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Business and human rights

Businesses must respond to people, not the other way round. We support local groups which promote the accountability of businesses and defend the human rights of people affected by business operations.

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