42 - Leveraging technology and a human-centred focus to better manage crises response

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While some might argue that the world is a much better place than it was thousands, hundreds of years, or even decades ago, it's hard not to feel like the world’s problems are greater than ever. In the past five years alone we've experienced a string of heart-wrenching global crises that have come fast and furious.

Haiti, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic have all been hit by terrible natural disasters. We've seen the Syrian civil war, Venezuelan and Afghanistan refugee crises', and the Rohingya genocide to name a few. Exacerbating these catastrophes is the COVID-19 global pandemic. So despite our progress, it often feels as if the world's needs are greater than ever and we have a long way to go before approaching anything resembling true equality.

Enter today's guest, Natasha Freidus, Co-Founder and CEO of NeedsList; a Public Benefit Corporation creating human-centred solutions for communities displaced by climate change, conflict, and poverty worldwide. The idea for NeedsList was sparked in 2015 at the height of the refugee crisis in Europe when Tasha was in France trying to help local Syrian refugee families, and her co-founder Amanda Levinson was in Philadelphia trying to figure out how more quickly and effectively gets goods and services across the globe to those in need.

The challenge is that the needs of people in crises are overwhelming and constantly changing, and it is difficult to keep track of what is needed and which organizations have the products, services, or expertise to meet those needs. In short, matching supply and demand has been incredibly difficult. That’s when Tasha decided to hack an online wedding registry as a way to solve the problem; in the process, the idea for NeedsList was born.

During this episode, Tasha and I discuss how and why it's so difficult to match supply from well-meaning groups and organizations with the needs of people on the ground who are suffering through crises. Our conversation spans the gamut from the original problem Tasha experienced first hand, the journey to founding and funding NeedsList, the evolving nature of global crises over the past decade, and the challenges around impact measurement & management. And be sure to stay tuned to the very end when Tasha discusses the opportunities she’s seeing to use machine learning and AI to gain new insights into the nature and causes of global crises so that we can address the problems before they happen.

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