Shortly before the holiday break, I had the privilege of speaking with Manny Ohonme, Founder and President of Samaritan’s Feet. Samaritan’s Feet is a non-profit organization that, in their words, “shares a message of hope and love through washing the feet of impoverished children around the world and adorning them with new shoes.” The organization was founded in 2002 in response to the growing need for basic supplies in impoverished nations. Prior to founding Samaritan’s Feet, Manny Ohonme lived in Lagos, Nigeria. As a boy he was given a pair of shoes by a missionary, and it altered his course in life, leading him to college in the United States, and eventually to start his organization to give back to the community he came from.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 2.2 billion people worldwide lacking basic needs – food, education, clothes, and shoes. Of these 2.2 billion people, more than 1 billion have been infected with diseases contracted through contaminated soil. As a result of not having shoes, children are catching diseases and are unable to attend school. This is where the idea of Samaritan’s Feet was born. The organization partnered with organizations and NGO’s to deliver shoes to children in need.
The first big break for Manny came when Sears made a $34 million gift in the form of 1 million shoes. While this was obviously a huge moment, and brought forth a lot of opportunity, it certainly brought about a lot of concerns as well – namely, what were they going to do with all the shoes? Manny knew the organization needed back-office help, mainly in the form of warehousing, logistics, and visibility. Considering that their biggest customers were in hard to reach places, such as Uganda, Kenya, and Iraq, there was no infrastructure set up to handle the logistics. There are also no easy mode of transportation to get the shoes there. Manny knew a cloud-based solution would be what was needed.
Samaritan’s Feet implemented JDA’s cloud-based WMS application to handle the logistics. The 1 million pairs of shoes they received from Sears were shipped in from all over the company. Manny had to set up a network to handle the rush. This meant understanding which 3PL’s to use to facilitate trucks, having the ability to ensure capacity, and most importantly, being able to do it cheaply. They needed the WMS to understand where everything is going. Now, once the shoe is in the warehouse, Samaritan’s Feet can track it through the entirety of its supply chain.
Samaritan’s Feet has its main warehouse in Charlotte, NC. Additionally, the organization has staff in Arkansas and the Dakotas, and warehouses in Indianapolis and outside Los Angeles. These warehouses handle the majority of their shoes, from both initial storage to packaging and shipping to the end destination. One of their biggest partnerships is with Sketchers, which makes its shoes in China. As a result, the organization uses a warehouse in China dedicated to donations. This helps to minimize transportation costs, as the shoes are stored in China and sent to their end destination rather being sent to the US before shipping back out. This extended supply network, along with a simple formula for working on location, helps to overcome the challenges of hard to reach places.
Samaritan’s Feet ensures they find the right people on the ground in each region. They mobilize the right people, as many are not their staff but volunteers. They know how to set up make-shift warehouses (basements of churches, refugee community centers, trailers, containers, etc.) in these regions. Additionally, by working with high quality freight forwarders, transportation partners, and on the ground representation that has the right clout, long wait times and cargo theft at the borders have been mostly eliminated.
With the ability to work with the right people, move shoes easily and efficiently throughout the supply chain, and track the shoes during the entire process, Samaritan’s Feet has been able to help children all around the world. According to Manny, about 80% of recipients worldwide are children, and about 90% of recipients in the US are children. In the US, Samaritan’s Feet is especially active during the back to school timeframe. As a result of the organization’s hard work, their cloud-deployed WMS software, and their extensive supply chain network, Samaritan’s Feet has delivered more than 6.5 million shoes to people in need. For more information, visit http://www.samaritansfeet.org/ or stop by JDA’s booth at NRF next week to meet the Samaritan’s Feet team.