Crossroads Foundation is a Hong Kong based, non-profit organisation serving global need. We link those who are in need with those who can provide help. We literally provide a crossroads to bring both together.
We offer four services:
- Global Distribution, which distributes Hong Kong’s quality excess goods as needed, internationally and locally;
- Global Village, which offers simulated x-periences of global need;
- Global Handicrafts, which sells fair trade goods from people in poverty; and
- Global Hand, which provides a matching website for public-private partnerships internationally.
Global Distribution seeks to serve and support the welfare organisations that are working hard to meet need at the local level. Many such grass-roots organisations lack the funding and international infrastructure they need to do their job. Our goal is to help them fulfil their goal. We do not send a percentage of a donated dollar to people in need. Instead, a donated dollar can be multiplied up to 20 times its worth in the goods it allows us to send internationally. The donated dollar can be multiplied up to 85 times its worth at the local level, where processing costs are far lower.
We frequently receive quality goods when hotels refurbish and give superseded items, hospitals upgrade and give away older equipment, householders move, manufacturers dispose of stock over-runs, samples or seconds, companies move or refurbish, educational groups upgrade facilities, community groups conduct relief drives, or other charities, if given more than they need, pass on surplus goods. The standard of the goods donated in Hong Kong is unusually high. Our current stock includes household furniture, office furniture, classroom furniture, bedding and fabric supplies, medical provision, electrical items, computers, household goods, clothing, stationery, books and educational toys.
The goods we receive are distributed to those in need in Asia, Europe, Africa, South/Central America, Central Asia and the Middle East. Crossroads provides goods to registered organisations working in these places in the following aspects of the welfare spectrum: orphans, the elderly, the handicapped, poverty, refugees, disaster victims, medical need and educational need.
We only send to areas where we have a recipient group on the ground to monitor distribution and provide accountability. All the organisations which we help are also required to furnish us with photographic feedback, any press coverage, lists of distribution, etc.
Wherever possible, we visit the consignees to observe the situation first hand. We also include disposable cameras in each of our containers. In the event that we are unable to be on the spot at the time of the container’s arrival, these cameras are used to take photos of the goods being unloaded and distributed.
Since its beginning in 1995, Global Distribution has grown at a rate none of us anticipated. In 1995, we sent 19 cartons of relief supplies. Today, our warehouse has goods equating to 100 x 40 containers. In 1995, we used 170 square feet. Today, we operate from a site that covers 600,000 square feet (14 acres). In 1995, we were distributing relief to one destination. Today, we have requests from 106 countries. In 1995, we processed one consignment at a time and our full-time personnel consisted of two people. Today, we have 80 team members and many more volunteers from the community. The growth has astonished us. From the very first project it has been as though a hole opened in the heavens and goods poured into our warehouse, almost flooding it.
Our world is not yet winning the battle against global poverty. Money is not getting the job done. Global Hand is an online matching service helping corporate/community groups partner with NGOs: a non-profit brokerage facilitating public/private partnership. It is designed to help match for-profit and non-profit organisations to address global need. It works two ways:
- A public website, compared by some to a ‘dating service,’ that helps each side find partners. We include Standards of Best Practice to help support the ‘partnering’, in order to anchor it in guidelines of excellence. We also include an extensive Library of resources.
- Global Hand also offers private applications to help specific agencies/organisations, such as the UN, manage their private sector partnering.
“Spend one day the way a billion spend a lifetime.” That is the slogan of the Crossroads Global Village. With the increasing trend to educate students and business leaders on social responsibility, the request for simulations offered by the Global Village has soared.
Global Village began in 2005 when, as a fundraiser, Crossroads invited leaders from the corporate world to spend 24 hours living in slum conditions. They built slums to sleep in for the night, ate ‘survival’ food and fought the wiles of loan sharks. This event, known as Slum Survivor, has now become an annual fundraising event for Crossroads, in which Hong Kong’s leaders continually attend.
After running this event, we decided to develop a menu of “Life X-perience” activities that allows participants to walk in the shoes of those that battle global need, to breathe their air, and feel some of the struggles they face, firsthand. Some come for an hour, others a day, others even a week. To date, over 20,000 people have participated and more come every week. Our participants include students of all ages at individual, class and course level, corporate staff, from junior to CEO level, and community groups, consular staff, service clubs and others. Currently, our Life X-periences deal with a range of global issues such as blindness, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, discrimination, manual labour, poverty, conflict, refugees, the environment, disabilities, cross-cultural issues and business that empowers the poor. Heavy emphasis is placed on Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainable Development and Social Entrepreneurship.
In 2009, our Global Village team was invited to run its “Refugee Run” x-perience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Participants such as the Secretary-General of the UN, Mr Ban Ki-moon, and British tycoon, Sir Richard Branson, attended the event. Participants were thrust into another environment, stepping ‘into the shoes’ of refugees. We co-hosted this event with the Global Risk Forum Davos, which specialises in disaster prevention and reduction, and with the UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency.
Across the planet, people in struggling economies may work hard to produce goods for which they receive little or no profit. Middlemen often buy at unfair prices that leave producers plagued with poor working conditions, health problems, lack of education and damage to the environment.
The Global Handicrafts Marketplace provides a fair market to suppliers in countries around the world, inviting customers to take a wander through markets from Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, Central Asia and the Middle East. The goods on sale come from people who struggle, in their different countries, to emerge from economic hardship and challenge. An important aspect about trading fairly is that all items be purchased at a just price for those who have produced them. That is our commitment to all our suppliers even when it means we cannot place a profit.
Today, we operate this Global Handicrafts Marketplace as well as a café called the Silk Road Café, which sells fair trade coffees and teas as well as fair trade snacks. We are able to bring incomes and new life to people in need all over the world through our commitment to the fair trade industry.