Yuri Milner’s Tech For Refugees Announces New Grant for Flexport.org

Simon Wells
Authored by Simon Wells
Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - 06:27

Yuri Milner’s Tech For Refugees has unveiled a new grant to support the humanitarian relief programmes of its partner organisation, Flexport.org. The grant will bring aid to millions of refugees and internally displaced people in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.

With funding from Julia and Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Foundation, Tech For Refugees partners with leading tech organisations to harness technology for refugee welfare. The global initiative’s partners include Airbnb.org, Uber, UNICEF USA, and the International Rescue Committee.

Harnessing Technology for Humanitarian Relief

Technology plays a vital role in providing humanitarian relief to refugees and displaced communities worldwide. For instance, connectivity and communications can help people in need stay in touch with loved ones or access essential services and information. Moreover, access to online media, such as music, can relieve stress and promote mental well-being.

Technology can also be incredibly beneficial in co-ordinating the collection, transportation, and delivery of resources. However, complexities within the world’s logistics network have traditionally meant large delivery costs for non-profit organisations. In 2017, aid groups calculated that “delivery logistics consumes 60 to 80 cents of every aid dollar contributed.”

Global logistics platform Flexport launched Flexport.org in 2018 to transform shipping, leveraging its software for positive social and environmental impact. Flexport.org’s tech-enabled logistics network and relationships with aid groups help streamline the international delivery of vital items like food, clothing, and medical supplies.

Flexport.org also offers visibility and expertise in delivering humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and development shipments to various organisations. The organisations include non-profits, non-governmental organisations, governments, and social enterprises.

A Timeline of Flexport.org and Tech For Refugees’ Partnership

The Milners launched Tech For Refugees two years ago with a seed donation of $100 million. The initiative’s inaugural partners were Spotify, Airbnb.org, and Flexport.org.

At the time, Flexport Founder and CEO Ryan Petersen said the partnership would “let Flexport.org help humanitarian aid organisations conquer one of their toughest challenges: getting the right goods to the right place at the right time.”

To date, grants from Tech For Refugees have financed 488 aid shipments by Flexport.org, benefiting more than seven million people in 20 countries. Here’s a look at the timeline of Flexport.org and Tech For Refugees’ partnership.

April 2022

Tech For Refugees launched in April 2022 and joined forces with Flexport.org. Initially, the partnership focused on aiding refugees from Ukraine and those internally displaced within the country.

During the first six months of the partnership, Flexport.org co-ordinated 409 shipments to six countries that welcomed refugees from Ukraine. These shipments, which contained millions of pounds of aid, such as hospital beds, ambulances, and hygiene kits, reached six million people.

October 2022

In October 2022, Tech For Refugees announced a follow-up grant for Flexport.org of $8 million. $5 million of the total grant has helped Flexport.org increase efforts to support Ukrainian refugees. For example, the funding allowed Flexport.org to:

  • Help BEARPAW and the UN Refugee Agency deliver 120,000 pairs of new winter boots to displaced Ukrainian families.
  • Ship essential food and medical supplies, including ambulances and hospital beds, thereby benefiting two million Ukrainian refugees.
  • Deliver tens of thousands of essential items to those displaced by the war in Ukraine. Amongst these shipments were “dignity kits,” which help families maintain health, hygiene, and personal safety in difficult conditions.

The remaining $3 million enabled Flexport.org to deliver $10 million of aid to one million people in the Horn of Africa and another $10 million of aid to one million people in Pakistan.

In early 2023, severe drought, high food prices, and political instability led to 36.4 million people suffering from hunger across the Horn of Africa.

Tech For Refugees’ funding helped Flexport.org deliver 16 aid shipments to countries in the region, including Niger, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Chad, and Eritrea. This aid included Ready to Use Therapeutic Food, which helps prevent severe malnutrition, especially in young children.

In 2022, catastrophic flooding in Pakistan injured almost 13,000 people and resulted in more than 1,700 deaths. The Pakistan authorities subsequently evacuated over 100,000 people.

Flexport.org delivered various supplies to the affected region, including tents, blankets, solar lamps, personal hygiene kits, kitchen sets, water sterilisation kits, and clean birthing kits. The extensive flooding meant the shipments involved complex movements of cargo by air.

February 2023

In February 2023, Tech For Refugees announced a new $6 million grant for Flexport.org. The funding expanded on the partnership’s efforts to help refugees from Ukraine, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa. The grant has also allowed Flexport.org to reach other global crisis zones, including regions of Turkey and Syria where severe earthquakes struck in 2023.

At the time, Kristen Czapar Dohnt, the Head of Flexport.org, called the organisation’s partnership with Tech For Refugees “crucial.” She added: “We are optimistic that this additional donation will enable us to redouble our efforts and bring vital assistance to many more lives.”

May 2024

Tech For Refugees awarded additional funding to Flexport.org in May 2024. The grant will support further humanitarian efforts in the Horn of Africa. It will also help Flexport.org deliver vital aid to refugees and internally displaced communities in the Middle East.

Dohnt said: “We’re grateful for the support from Tech For Refugees to continue our critical work in aiding refugees around the world. This additional donation will enable us to deliver humanitarian relief and assistance where it’s needed most, and make a positive impact in the lives of millions of people.”

Milner said: “Tech For Refugees is proud to collaborate with Flexport.org. The Flexport.org team has continuously proven themselves to be highly effective in supplying vital provisions to refugees around the world.”

Flexport.org is one of eight tech partners working with Tech For Refugees to make a difference in the lives of refugees. Tech For Refugees continually seeks to expand the scope and diversity of its global operations by collaborating with other leading tech companies and non-profits.

Learn more about Tech For Refugees’ work with its tech partners.

About Yuri Milner

Yuri Milner is a prominent entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist known for his contributions to science and technology. He initially pursued a career in theoretical physics before transitioning to the world of business and investment.

Milner gained international recognition as the founder of the investment firm DST Global. The company played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of internet technology. Milner’s strategic investments in companies like Twitter, Facebook, Airbnb, and Alibaba earned him a reputation as an influential figure in the global tech industry.

Beyond his entrepreneurial endeavours, Milner is deeply committed to philanthropy and social impact. In 2012, he and his wife signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment by some of the world's wealthiest individuals to dedicate most of their wealth to philanthropy.

The Milners established the Breakthrough Foundation to support their charitable efforts. These efforts include the Breakthrough Prize and the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.

The Breakthrough Prize is an annual award recognising outstanding achievements in fundamental physics, the life sciences, and mathematics. Launched in 2012, the Breakthrough Prize celebrates scientific excellence and inspires the next generation of researchers to pursue groundbreaking discoveries.

Meanwhile, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global competition that encourages young minds to engage with science. To enter the competition, 13-to-18-year-olds must create an original video that brings to life a complex concept or theory in the life sciences, maths, or physics.

In addition to his philanthropic efforts, Milner is the author of the short book Eureka Manifesto: The Mission for Our Civilisation. Published in 2021, Eureka Manifesto explores the intersection of science, technology, and human progress. Milner believes a shared global mission can drive positive change and shape a better future for humanity.

Share this