Social Start-up

New paths in humanitarian logistics

They won the 2nd place of the Digital Logistics Award in 2020: The social start-up Boxwise – now on course of success with the new name Boxtribute.

The mission of the non-profit start-up Boxtribute is to improve the delivery of humanitarian aids through their open-source web-app system. The team of roundabout 10 people is based in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and is working with partner organizations from all over the world. We talked to the Executive Director Roanna Kong about major milestones and upcoming challenges.


First things first: Could you briefly summarise, what Boxtribute is trying to accomplish?

Roanna Kong: Our aim is to provide life-saving aid to vulnerable people in crisis situations. Specifically, we hope to do this by bridging the systemic gaps that prevent people from receiving the help they need today. Currently, we have developed a digital system, which makes it easy to source, store and distribute goods to people in need in a fair and dignified way. Of course, we are not doing this alone: We are working hand in hand with our local and international partners to accomplish this goal.


Three years ago, you took part in the Digital Logistics Award – What major milestones have you achieved since taking part in the award?

Roanna Kong: We have made some major improvements on the digital side as we have rebuilt large sections of our application usinga  new technology stack, which has new features and is much more modern. Since 2022 when the Ukrainian war began, our software is used in Sfaza Dobra, the largest distribution center in Krakow in Poland, where refugees were provided with relief supplies. In 2023 we achieved a major milestone, when Boxtribute helped to provide over 1 million aid goods. Last year, we also received the ANBI status in the Netherlands and are officially registered as a charitable institution that serves the general interest of society.


In 2020 you took part in the Award with the name Boxwise – in the meantime you changed it to Boxtribute. What was the reason for this?

Roanna Kong: Well, actually there were a few overlaps concerning the name and we wanted to strengthen our recognizability while also demonstrating our commitment to the humanitarian sector. The name Boxtribute is a word composition and combines the word ‘boxes’ with “distribute”, which represents our logistics focus and a derivation of ‘contribution’ for the humanitarian priority.


You recently launched the new “transfer feature”: Could you tell us a bit more about it?

Roanna Kong: Over the past year, the Boxtribute Team worked on a solution for our partners to be able to transfer boxes between them by simply scanning (mobile version) or allocating them to a shipment (desktop version). Both sending and receiving teams will be able to monitor planned shipments live as they are packed, sent, and received at the destination. As many people in the logistics sector know, organising the receive process for a warehouse is a challenging and time-consuming process. This feature will save sending and receiving groups time and resources spent on relabelling boxes and manually entering data to update their current stock. Boxes once sent out from one organisation’s warehouse can now be accepted straight to any location in the other organisation’s warehouse by the click of a button, literally!


What are your plans for the year to come?

Roanna Kong: Our plan is to bring attention to how aid relief works at  a local and individual level, so everyone can see how people should receive the goods that they need. Community-led initiatives are critical for making that possible. A great example of this is the The Free Shop  Lebanon project, where a team of four local people supports with our software over 500 families with much needed supplies. We also want to expand this year into more countries, especially in the Middle East to address problems more directly.


How can the Digital Hub-community help you do this?

Roanna Kong: We want to grow our network – our aim is to map the availability of aid, hence we are looking for new partners from care-relevant areas, such as the field of energy/power or water supply. Cooperation between aid actors is crucial to save lives and ensure that aid properly reaches vulnerable people and is given to them with dignity and freedom of choice. Only together can we face the crises of this time and improve the distribution of humanitarian goods – anyone from the Digital Hub-network, who is interested in working with us is welcome to contact me.