May. 14, 2020

The Drive to Mobilize PPE: Flexport Raises $7.9M to Move Medical Supplies; $2.1M to Go

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In the fight against COVID-19, Flexport has raised $7.9 million through its Frontline Responders Fund to pay for the transportation of medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) to hotspots across the globe. As of this week, shipments total 126 million units, including masks, isolation gowns, face shields, and goggles.

With its goal of $10 million, Flexport plans to continue funding and facilitating transport for more than 100 organizations requesting help during a time of worldwide logistics challenges and intense demand for medical supplies.

A New Goal of $10M

Today, demand for funding outpaces available funds, with $20 million requested by organizations of all sizes. Yet only one third of those requests are awarded so far.

While some organizations are experienced shippers, others lack the direct relationships with medical supply manufacturers that allow expedited or timely deliveries during a crisis.

Adding to their challenges, airfreight remains volatile, and some vendors are raising down payment requirements as demand soars. Meanwhile, a host of logistical and leadership issues converge, bottlenecking supply of the most crucial equipment.

As a result, Flexport has increased its fundraising goal to $10 million to reach more frontline responders and others in need.

How Funding Works

Logistics is a rapid-pace effort with many moving parts under the best of circumstances. In the era of COVID-19, it is often a herculean undertaking.

To remove blocks and put the necessary equipment in the right hands as quickly as possible, a Flexport task force coordinates with key partners. These efforts are made possible by the Frontline Responders Fund, created in March—funded by more than 27,400 donations from caring individuals and businesses.

Flexport helps by onboarding new shippers, cultivating relationships on almost every continent, navigating customs throughout the world, and managing other legalities to ensure shipments get where they need to go.

Transport costs for the shipments are covered directly via partnership with CAF America, a grant-making organization that manages donations from the Frontline Responders Fund.

Funding Organizations in Need

As Susy Schöneberg, Head of Flexport.org, shared with The Loadstar, Flexport has strong relationships with established nonprofits and other partners around the world. Managing logistics and distribution needs, the company works on the ground and delivers goods to where there is the highest need.

“But,” says Schöneberg, “we don’t decide where goods go—the emergency aid organizations do.”

For instance, Flexport’s partnership with established medical-supply nonprofit MedShare has resulted in the delivery of approximately 10,000 masks to New Jewish Home in New York, a senior health care system; 10,000 coveralls and a ventilator to Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles; and 1,750 isolation gowns donated from Guangzhou, China to San Francisco Chinese Hospital, the only hospital in San Francisco's Chinatown.

How Aid Helps

The majority of donations are earmarked to cover transportation costs of relief goods vital to the war on COVID-19:

  • PPE, like masks, gowns, coveralls, and goggles
  • Hospital equipment, like ventilators, thermometers, sheets, and supplies
  • General relief, like meals and hygiene supplies

So far, Flexport has already awarded 70% of funds to more than 65 organizations, like MedShare or Project C.U.R.E., a drive in collaboration with the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls. Of the funds awarded, shipments equaling $3.5 million in transportation costs have already been delivered or are currently in transit.

Additionally, in a few special instances where need was great and impact meaningful, funds have supported the direct purchase of PPE.

As individuals and businesses around the world come together to mobilize PPE and medical supplies, Flexport is working to remove barriers and streamline logistics in service to the frontline responders battling for the health of millions.

To help Flexport reach its $10 million goal to support frontline responders and others during the COVID-19 crisis, please donate to the Frontline Responders Fund.

Delivering PPE and Supplies

A flight carries hospital equipment donated by Alibaba cofounder Joe Tsai.

Atlas Air delivers 4.5m medical masks, 116K coveralls, and 121K surgical gowns.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, former CA governor, delivers 49K masks to LA doctors.

A flight carries hospital equipment donated by Alibaba cofounder Joe Tsai.

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