'Global HAND' Corporate Humanitarian Aid
18 March 2002 at 12:03 pm
“Global HAND” is a Hong Kong based organisation working on becoming a one-stop-shop for corporates and Not for Profits wanting to get involved with the provision of ‘gifts in kind' (GIK).
Businesses and charities have long struggled with the problems associated with donating goods either to the next suburb or overseas. TV news stories report nightmarish freight issues where urgently need supplies are locked in containers or wrapped up in international red tape.
Global HAND’s President and co-founder Sally Begbie says previously there has been no obvious place on the Web for corporates to post the availability of excess goods, be it toys, books, furniture, computers, stationary or machinery and medical supplies- the list is endless.
While it is only in the start up phase, Global HAND is working through Crossroads International, Hong Kong’s major GIK operator, focusing on local communities. Sally Begbie is an Australian with the Public Relations background. Along with her accountant-husband Malcolm, they began doing pro bono work for Not for Profits and then set up Crossroads in 1995. They filled a bedroom in their Hong Kong home with goods for Northern China as a once off goodwill effort. Now they manage 150,000 square feet of warehouse filled with goods of all kinds.
Two other Australians are also part of the growing of Global HAND. Kate Falconer completed a university communications course and headed for Hong Kong and Crossroads where she hoped to use her skills in what she describes as ‘useful’ work. Lucinda Gorfin comes from a ‘web industry’ background and has spent the last 18 months putting her skills into the Global HAND project.
Begbie says the next step for Global HAND is planning an extensive ‘supply chain service’ that will operate internationally. This would include an on-line inventory allowing users to request available goods listed and to post information about excess products. Often goods that are a nuisance in one context can be sought after in another.
It will eventually offer warehouse support to allow corporates to move goods rapidly, validation of consignees and shipment follow-up and accountability, and freight availability. The organisation is also undertaking extensive research in the area of gifts in kind.
Begbie says good information matters and can mean the difference between good aid and bad aid, between a successful outcome and a major headache. She says their immediate goals are a country by country guide to customs regulations on humanitarian aid, maps, climate and cultural guides as well as Codes of Best Practice. Recently, Begbie says Global HAND held consultations with seven UK organisations handling gifts in kind.
They resolved to set up an office, but before the desk was in or the phone was connected in a time of just three weeks, more than $US1 million worth of product changed hands. Begbie says 1000 pallets of dry pasta, 10,000 boxes of water purification pills, matting for relief housing and 100,000 T-shirts arrived before the infrastructure was even in place.
The organisation understands too the complications, cost factors and ‘small windows of opportunity” for corporates who want to move goods – goods that will be destroyed if they can’t be shipped or freighted quickly. Begbie says that’s the challenge for an international network. She says there is nothing more disheartening that to hear that a container load of English textbooks stored in Victoria that are much needed by a central Asian country have been pulped because the supplier couldn’t continue the storage costs while the complicated freight details were being sorted.
So far Global HAND hasn’t been rolled out in Australia yet. However, Sally Begbie says she would be delighted to hear from Australian Not for Profits who are already involved in moving gifts in kind or corporates partnering these groups. Contact Sally Begbie and her team via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org If you would like more information on what Global HAND (Humanitarian Aid Network for Distribution) is doing check out its web site at www.globalhand.org. If you are involved in providing gifts in kind through your corporation please tell us your story. Send and e-mail to email@example.com