As the wealth gap broadens and many parts of the world become isolated in war, the bridge to deliver aid to those in need has become increasingly complex. While NGOs and governments have the compassion and the institutional will to help, they too can sometimes lack the resources and technical expertise to solve such diverse problems. Leading companies are recognizing that they often hold the solution and are applying business expertise to solve world issues.
Last week, the UPS Foundation announced a new effort to "improve the lives of displaced refugees around the world" by leveraging what it does best – solving logistical challenges. The Foundation has partnered with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to launch Relief Link, a handheld scanning system to track the distribution of provisions, ensuring the process is as accurate and efficient at possible. The new handheld devices have eliminated the need for paper records and laptops with short battery life at refugee sites, which in turn has reduced waiting time and allowed for faster and more accurate information and delivery of aid. Leveraging UPS's expertise in distribution and tracking, the program is able to "provide verifiable receipt of vital provisions ensuring equitable distribution, and minimize theft through their pilot program." This technology also allows UNHCR to report crucial metrics back to donors to show the successes of the program.
UPS's Relief Link program demonstrates how businesses can bring unique skill sets to the table, advancing innovative solutions to social problems in fresh and unique ways. Companies should go beyond philanthropic assistance and harness their business acumen and resources to help drive whole scale change and create new efficiencies, making a deep and lasting impact on issues.
*UPS is a Cone client