I have imported playgrounds from China in 2009, only to find out after a year that the TUV certificates they have provided where fake. I have immediately switched to European sources and bought from EU since. During COVID crisis I decided to use my business skills and my network to help the flow of information at national ad global scale. I have worked 18-19 hours /day as a volunteer to help people to find relevant information and created a Facebook marketplace for covid products and helped them to look for properly certified products.
What it does
This is a fairtrade B2B marketplace, usable by both private and state owned companies / public authorities. We have relevant news from different areas: ASRO (ISO.org representatives), Ministry of Health , Ministry of Work, subgroups for producers and for importers. This marketplace allows visibility in pricing, certification, it allows trading within the group. It helps to promote both local production and foreign products. We have also created WhatsApp groups to create an easy communication platform.
How we have built it
I have created a Facebook group dedicated to COVID. https://www.facebook.com/groups/Distributie2020/ This group reached 5000 members in 30 days. We have created positive rules, created pools to understand the needs of the community.
Challenges we ran into
The current changes in people's behavior, lack of ecommerce knowledge from most suppliers. Most of the product certificates where suspicious: ICR, Entecema https://www.eu-esf.org/covid-19/4513-covid-19-suspicious-certificates-for-ppe My personal brand was not strong enough to reach strong leaders and activate them. I tried to activate Tony Robbins: https://twitter.com/LiviuOlos/status/1248101852270546944 so he could be a global promoter for working together Everybody was thinking locally or at their own problem, until EUvsVirus I didn't see a continental or global initiative I tried to activate Mark Suzman, CEO at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, (check the comments) https://www.linkedin.com/posts/marksuzman_coronavirus-activity-6658171044987310080-hAgU/ https://www.linkedin.com/posts/marksuzman_support-the-global-conspiracy-to-save-lives-activity-6659994452054147072-0qIV https://www.linkedin.com/posts/marksuzman_primary-health-care-is-exactly-that-activity-6659259054256467968-KX5X My own company Facebook pages where /are completely disabled by Facebook because I have promoted the group trough them. I have already appealed but no answer yet. Suppliers thought I am way to strict, while clients cried for information that the supplier didn't want to provide immediately.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
With little experience in Facebook groups, and certainly not with such growth rates, the project has achieved very fast growth There was a fraud attempt of tens of thousands of euros which we have prevented in the last minute and notified the authorities (the 55 pages documentation can be provided, but I can't put it public to protect both the investigation and the innocents) I have created a nonformal communication system between the ministry and the WhatsApp network of hospital directors, discussed with hundreds of people over the phone. I have helped to improve the logistics of imports by bringing together many importers.
What I learned
I have learned that we need a much better software platform something that makes sure that the merchandise sent by the factory is the same as the one the final user receives, and everything in the chain is done properly from the producer material used, the certification of the producer for the EU market is done by the correct notified bodies, the certification is valid and it's not expired, the importer has the proper documents to allow him to import according to the local laws, the merchandise is not fake, the merchant is not a scammer, and many other items have to be checked.
This is a global issue: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/30/china-challenges-the-world-with-flawed-covid-19-te/ https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/23/canada-china-respirators-coronavirus-205461 https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/rise-of-fake-%E2%80%98corona-cures%E2%80%99-revealed-in-global-counterfeit-medicine-operation https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/11/feds-stamp-out-coronavirus-scams-179490 https://nypost.com/2020/03/20/counterfeit-coronavirus-test-kits-seized-at-chicago-airport/ https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-04-11/coronavirus-seiu-masks-fraud-fbi https://www.forbes.com/sites/daveywinder/2020/03/24/theres-no-covid-19-cure-online-14-million-seized-in-fake-pharma-as-121-arrested/ https://www.euractiv.com/section/coronavirus/news/spain-returns-faulty-test-kits-to-china-as-covid-19-death-toll-passes-4000-mark/
What's next for
Create the software platform and get support from EU, government, private companies