Who we are. What we do. And why we do it.


"It's possible to do well and do good at the same time ... it's a philosophy"

(Enterprise Council, November 2018)


Who are we?

AidEssentials is a commercial company with a social mission. It is, in other words, a for-profit social enterprise. The company is limited by shares, and registered in Scotland.  Its Advisory Board has three members: James Shepherd-Barron (disaster management consultant and founder); John Adlam (former director of DFID's humanitarian & emergency operations support service); and Andrew Macleod (academic and human rights lawyer).

What do we do?

AidEssentials' business objects are to carry on activities which benefit the public at home and abroad, in particular the online provision of independent and impartial information concerning professional support services relevant for, but not exclusive to, persons involved in humanitarian affairs and international development. 

What is our philosophy?

AidEssentials was set up BY aid workers FOR aid workers to serve the common good. We are not a commercial intermediary hard-selling some inappropriate product just to make a fast buck. All the products and services listed have been recommended by fellow aid workers based on their personal experiences and have been checked by the AidEssentials Advisory Board to ensure they are legitimate entities and conform to our social values.

How do we fund our service?

It is important to us that the AidEssentials service remains free to use and accessible to all. You will appreciate, however, that such a service is neither free to set up nor to run. The costs of establishing and maintaining the web portal have been borne by the founder but it is hoped that these will eventually be recovered through commercial sponsorships.

In addition, we have commercial agreements with some – though not all – of the providers listed who will rebate commissions on products or services sold to anyone introduced via AidEssentials. It is intended for these commissions to cover the day-to-day running costs of the company, including website curation and content management.   

Why should you use AidEssentials rather than approach providers direct?

Three reasons: First, the more of you who apply for products and services through AidEssentials, the greater our ability to negotiate volume discounts on your behalf. 

Second, many financial service products that aid workers would find useful are not available to individuals, only organisations.  Approaching such companies through AidEssentials will eventually enable us to negotiate access to such specialised products.

And third, when we have enough people using the site we will be able to lobby for the development of new products such as 'flexible pensions' and 'modular disability insurance', neither of which are available to short-term contractors now. 

If you decide to buy a product or service through our introduction, YOU DO NOT PAY ANY EXTRA. In fact, volume discounts negotiated by us on your behalf are likley to eventually mean you'll be paying less than if you bought the same item elsewhere. 

How are we governed?

As a for-profit social enterprise, we have the right retain any annual net profit after deduction of reasonable operating expenses and distribute those profits to shareholders. However, until such time as the directors declare otherwise, any such profits will be reinvested for the common good as recommended  by users and directed by the Advisory Board.

Products and Services listed on the AidEssentials website must first be approved by at least two Advisory Board members without veto once the following criteria have been satisfied: The commercial entity

Is our advice truly independent?

Yes. All the products and services listed are recommended by our users, not us. This keeps us on our toes and makes us totally independent.

How can I engage?

AidEssentials is an information portal and so cannot legally endorse the products or services listed. Our sole aim is to inform aid workers and others about what has been recommended by your peers.If you have any suggestions about either the site itself or the products and services listed, we would love to hear from you. Just send us a quick e-mail at ‘info@aidessentials.org’ and we’ll be in touch.