'Tis the season where many of us join the holiday frenzy and rush to buy gifts for our family and friends. For us in the shipping world, we know that peak season a little while ago was going full force to make sure store floors and inventories were fully stocked to support our holiday spending habits. Then, I thought, as a company, couldn't we, at Xeneta, do something more meaningful, take a step back and going beyond our own selves and needs.
A few months ago, I had the pleasure to be introduced by Sean Percival (entrepreneur and investor) to Natasha Freidus, CEO of Needslist, an online marketplace connecting local NGOs with individual and corporate donors. Needslist is part of the Oslo, Norway social sustainability startup accelerator, Katapult. I was immediately drawn to their marketplace, overall mission and Natasha's passion. This was something meaningful. They were looking for companies to partner up with, help those in need listed in their online marketplace. We were looking to start our corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, pay it forward. We found each other.
Xeneta is happy to be a company sponsor of Needslist in conjunction with Norwegian NGO, "A Drop in the Ocean" (Dråpen i Havet), who provide immediate and direct aid to refugees with a main focus to help children and their mothers upon their arrival in Europe by coordinating volunteers and by collecting and distributing necessary equipment.
Why is this important? Why is this different?
Yes, during the holidays many companies donate proceedings "on behalf of the employees" to large NGOs like the Red Cross, UNICEF and many others. That's great. I always ask, "Where is this money going? Who will it help?" What is better about Needslist is that as a company you let your employees choose where they want to allocate the overall company donated amount equally split among all employees.
(Photo courtesy of Needslist.co)
The other unique aspect of NeedsList is that it has partnered with local suppliers, so users can actually buy goods for donations directly for NGOs instead of shipping them from abroad.
This is How it Works
Xeneta has donated USD 1000 for employees to use on NeedsList. Each employee will receive a gift card in the value of USD 15 to purchase urgently needed supplies for A Drop in the Ocean. If employees want to match or increase donations from their personal account, they are welcome to do so.
For example, it can be 30 gloves for school age children in Greece, 100 sleeping bags, winter boots for kids in Lesvos, sweatpants, underwear etc. Employees see the lists, see how much is needed for each item and then allocate their Needslist/Xeneta gift card to any of the hundreds of needs listed, all online. That's satisfying.
Needslist.co lists needs all over the world supporting those in need due to various unfortunate happenings. For example, west coast wildfires, Puerto Rico Hurricane Irma, migrant crises and more. It isn't only limited to companies. Individuals can also go to Needlist.co and donate to any needs listed all online with secure credit card payment.
When we presented this initiative to our employees last week. Positive head shakes and smiles were seen. We are able to help those who are in much more need than us, empower our employees to care about social responsibility and also help a fellow startup to get out their message far and wide.
I encourage our customers and readers of our blog to have a look at Needlist.co. You'll be amazed at the small things that are needed, which will make a world of a difference for so many. You may have a spouse, children or parent who may frown upon a pair of socks as a gift this holiday season. On the flip side, you will place a glow of joy on a small child's face with a fresh pair of socks via Needslist. It's a warm feeling.
As we start scaling, our goal at Xeneta is to continue our social responsibility activities beyond this holiday season. Our business is to create a fair playing ground in global trade where we enable companies with data insight based on their collective rates, crowdsourced rate data where they all can benefit from. Needslist and corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the same. If we all pitch in a little at a time to help humanity, it will be a win-win for all in the end.