Amazon for aid
In the middle of the Ebola outbreak, Stephanie Cox’s search for water filters was coming up empty. The veteran aid worker recalls how, “I was making a lot of phone calls, Googling, calling the experts and no one really knew what to do. Just that morning, I had bought a pair of shoes on Amazon. That’s when the light bulb went off.”
With 60 million displaced people in the world, and critical supplies still lacking after disasters in Haiti and Nepal, up to $100 billion is spent each year in responding to crises.
While there is no shortage of organisations that aim to alleviate human suffering by trying to deliver items such as tents, lighting, remote power sources and water filters, the procurement process can move at glacial speeds – aid buyers often need to receive and compare at least three quotes to satisfy audit guidelines.
Cox developed The Level Market (TLM) to provide Amazon-level service adapted to aid workers’ needs, so they can help crisis survivors faster. An online platform, TLM allows buyers to compare products directly, and receive custom pricing and delivery quotes using just one form, rather than making individual enquiries by phone or email.
TLM has received heartfelt support from the aid world. Buyers include Red Cross and Save the Children, who say that the quotation process feature is a “game changer”. The site now has a catalogue of 200 products from 48 suppliers.
Cox’s aim is “to make buying a water filter for a child in Ethiopia as easy as buying a book on Amazon.” Further down the line she hopes to introduce a donation feature, so that donors can select products on an NGO’s wish list and purchase them directly. Take a look at the site at www.thelevelmarket.com
Image courtesy of United Nations Photo
Last updated: 10th of August, 2016