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For Good

medical supplies nonprofit medwish in running for $100k prize


Entrepreneurial ventures are often launched out of garages, spare bedrooms and basements. Yet MedWish International, a nonprofit organization that repurposes medical supplies discarded by the healthcare industry for humanitarian aid to developing countries, is probably one of the few that has ever been launched out of a suitcase.

When Cleveland doctor Lee Ponsky visited Nigeria in 1991 and saw the vast level of healthcare need that exists there, he wanted to help in some way. He found a way to do that by carrying suitcases full of medical supplies to Nigeria that would otherwise end up in the landfill. He convinced his friends to do the same.

Ponsky's efforts were the beginning of MedWish International, a nonprofit that now delivers more than 550 tons of medical supplies each year to 97 countries. It operates out of a 40,000-square-foot warehouse that is donated by the Cleveland Clinic. While most of MedWish's supplies are sent in 40-foot shipping containers these days, some are still carried the old-fashioned way -- in suitcases.

"Dr. Ponsky saw the need in Nigeria as well as the waste going into our landfills and thought, 'There must be a way to bridge the gap between our surplus and their scarcity,'" explains Matthew Fieldman, Director of Development for MedWish International. "So he created an organization that is saving the environment in Northeast Ohio as well as helping an international cause."

MedWish was recently selected as one of five organizations competing for $100,000 in the Toshiba Tech Makeover challenge. Vote by clicking here.


Source: Matthew Fieldman
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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