Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
October 5, 2022
Natasha Freidus | NeedsList.co
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
Hi, I’m Natasha Freidus, and I’m the co-founder of NeedsList, a tech startup powering faster, more sustainable humanitarian action.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
The story of NeedsList is the story of how two female founders decided one day to boldly disrupt the world of humanitarian aid and disaster relief–sectors that haven’t fundamentally changed since the end of World War II. What inspired us? When over one million Syrians fled their country’s civil war, large humanitarian organizations and governments were overwhelmed by the needs. Concerned civilians responded en masse, forming grassroots organizations to provide food, clothing, and other essential services to refugees across Europe. I was among one of these volunteers in France. I re-connected with Amanda Levinson, NeedsList co-founder, to explore tech-enabled solutions. We knew there had to be a better way to get items to where they were needed. We started off by using a wedding registry to let donors know what was needed and where, and that’s how NeedsList began!
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
This year the world saw a grim milestone of 100 million people displaced, and that was before these latest floods in Pakistan. It’s clear that our aging aid system can’t keep up with the pace of multiple crises – our climate, fragile states, conflict, and of course the pandemic. We know local actors are best equipped to help, but too often are overlooked. Our commitment at NeedsList is to build solutions that are locally powered, equity-focused, collaborative, tech-enabled, and grounded in dignity.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Over the past six years, we’ve helped facilitate over $20 million in resources to local communities around the globe. These “needs met” range from laptops to diapers to language classes to jobs. We’re thrilled now to be backed by Google.org to help scale our model globally through a free, public version of our platform and I am honored to have been recognized by Inc. magazine as one of this year’s Female Founder 100. Most importantly, however, we are part of a growing movement recognizing the need for innovation, inclusion, and investment in the sector.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
Since the beginning, we have partnered with organizations led by local leaders from affected communities. They are best equipped to understand the challenges and solutions to the problems they face and they inspire me every day.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
The challenges we face when it comes to crisis response and humanitarian action can not be solved by one entity alone. Our vision is to be part of an ecosystem of multiple solutions to create an aid system grounded in equity, transparency, and sustainability.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
We’re operating within a funding ecosystem for social innovation that is deeply flawed. Access to resources and bureaucratic hoops when it comes to innovation in the aid sector are constant challenges.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
We have gotten to where we are because of the number of advisors and supporters who have opened doors for us. We hope to keep opening doors for other impact leaders in the future and encourage all to do so in any way possible.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Follow us on social @Needslist4good and sign up for our mailing list to see how you can be involved.
At Orapin, we believe those who are working for the greater good should be known, supported, and celebrated. We give purpose-driven organizations that want to do PR the strategy, resources, and support they need to get started so they can increase awareness and maximize their impact. If would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.