The Business of Humanitarian Aid: Fritz Institute
The recent article, “Big Business goes Humanitarian“, reminded me of the Fritz Institute in San Francisco, which I have been meaning to cover on the blog. First a few excerpts from this article lumped together below:
Imagine you’re the head of a major corporation – let’s say a logistics or telecoms firm. You get a news alert on your cellphone telling you there’s been a big earthquake in Asia, with tens of thousands feared dead. What do you do? Ideally, nothing… It’s not that you don’t care. In fact, the reason you can afford to just get on with your day is because your company’s cash, equipment and maybe even staff are already in the right place to help international relief groups respond to humanitarian emergencies as and when they happen…if stocks aren’t pre-positioned and staff aren’t pre-trained, then it’s too late. Any dollar given before an emergency goes much further than more dollars given after…Vodafone also works with WFP, the World Health Organisation, and Telecoms Sans Frontieres to provide communications equipment, training and other technical support in emergencies and health programmes.
Now onto Fritz, a non-profit organization in the business of logistical support for disaster relief. The Fritz Institute maybe a non-profit, but they have strong roots in the private sector. They are “dedicated to improving global disaster relief by creating innovative approaches to ensure help arrives when and where it’s needed most.”
You can think of the Fritz Institute as the UPS or FED Ex of humanitarian aid. The founder, Lynn Fritz sold his for profit company to UPS in 2001 and started the Institute thereafter. Fritz has been called a “visionary of the global logistics industry” and previously ran a Fortune 1000 global logistics corporation with 10,000 employees in a 120 countries. His non-profit institute just launched a “Certification in Humanitarian Logistics” (link). I could not find a similar type of organization with the same level of sector expertise, however there are smaller outfits that do exist. If anyone knows of other organizations in this sector let us know.
Additional reading: Mega-cities and Mega-disasters