At the Air Cargo 2020 Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, we had the opportunity to catch up with Susy Schoneberg, head of Flexport.org, for one of our Fireside Chats. Flexport.org is the nonprofit arm of Flexport. Flexport seeks to be a single platform that is changing the operating model for global trade. It empowers businesses with more transparent, agile, efficient and profitable supply chains. With real-time visibility and control, Flexport is creating a superior freight-forwarding experience. Meanwhile, Flexport.org enables organizations to deliver global aid and meet their sustainability goals with greater ease and lower costs.
The two parts of the company work in tandem with each other. The former makes the approach more efficient and, ultimately, sustainable. The latter gives a mission and purpose to the companies that work with Flexport, and those companies tend to work with them longer. It also gives meaning and purpose to the employees at Flexport.org.
Before entering the logistics industry, Schoneberg was a counselor of traumatized children for six years. She knew her work was important but she wanted something more. “I felt like my impact was very limited to one-on-one engagements, and there are only so many people I can talk to in one day, and for many people I worked with for many years, which further limits the amount of people I can reach.”
She did some research into how she could have a bigger impact, and it turned out that logistics was the key. The first reason is the environmental one. A big part of global carbon emissions comes from logistics.
“If ocean shipping alone would be a country, it would be the sixth-largest polluter in the world, emitting more emissions than my home country, Germany,” says Schoneberg. In fact, it is estimated that by 2050, over 40% of our carbon pollution will come from the aggregate of logistics and transportation. That alone makes it an area where Schoneberg identifies the opportunity to make an impact.
The other reason is humanitarian aid and economic development. “We know that trade is one of the big contributors to economic development,” says Schoneberg. “One of the few topics that economists actually agree on is that trade helps to lift people out of poverty. However, if we look at aid organizations, they spend 60-80% of their total budget on buying goods and bringing them to the people in need. If we could help them to make this more efficient, we could unlock billions of dollars to reach more people in need.”
In October, Flexport’s first user conference, FORWARD 19, drew more than 300 people to learn how to move beyond the status quo in freight forwarding and supply chain management to achieve greater efficiencies and transparency. But another very important area of focus also got attention: environmental concerns and social responsibility. Schoneberg explains how the inaugural conference went. She also details the fund that was established and where the money will be allocated for its social purpose.
The company is delivering humanitarian aid, increasing environmental sustainability and demonstrating social responsibility all the at same time, and Schoneberg tells us about the progress Flexport.org is making in delivering humanitarian aid around the world, including initiatives like Flexport’s carbon-neutral LCL boxes. The company also recently partnered with MedShare in an effort to decrease mother and infant mortality rates, and Schoneberg explains how the two companies work together.