Theory of Change: How Swoop Aero delivers better access for remote communities

Giant Leap's impact thesis for Swoop Aero, an Australian drone logistics organisation founded to transform how the world moves by making access to the skies seamless.
October 10, 2022
Giant Leap

In the Theory of Change series, we break down Giant Leap’s impact thesis for each investment: how we think they’re blazing trails in tackling our most pressing problems. Check out our Starter Guide to Theory of Change for more context.

Swoop Aero is an Australian drone logistics organisation founded to transform how the world moves by making access to the skies seamless.

The company is trusted across the world to deploy and scale proven managed service with one goal; to make access to the skies seamless. From medical transport, to emergency management and mapping; their integrated drone logistics service moves sky and earth to realise the next giant leap in how essential services are delivered. 

Founded in 2017 by Eric Peck and Joshua Tepper, they’ve been on a high growth trajectory and are already approved to fly beyond visual line of sight in 14 countries, from lower income countries in the Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa to high income countries in Oceania.

They’re as ambitious in their impact mission, driven by their audacious goal:
“Our future is to combine networks and operate an integrated drone logistics service for entire populations, offering a range of services from medical delivery to emergency management; accessible by 1 billion people in 2030.”

Here’s the breakdown of Giant Leap’s impact thesis for our investment in Swoop Aero.

Vaccinations are not a luxury 

While populations concentrate in urban areas, an estimated 40% of the global population still lives in rural areas where access to even the simplest essential health products like bandaids are a luxury. 

The main reason is that logistics infrastructure in these areas is often poor. The company’s solution bridges the gaps in logistics by overcoming vast distances, traffic congestion, location accessibility, inhospitable terrain, and stock management. For instance, Sub-Saharan African nations often depend on deliveries by camel, called “camel clinics”, to access healthcare services. Sadly, this has resulted in extremely limited health coverage, including low vaccination rates and high mortality rates for devastating but very preventable threats of Ebola, COVID-19, Yellow Fever, Measles and Polio. 

Illustrating the gaps, 57% of children in the region receive vaccinations compared to 83% globally, and Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for nearly a quarter of all disability and death caused by disease worldwide, but just 1% of global health expenditure

Swoop Aero contributes to solving this systemic inequality by augmenting traditional transportation methods and integrating drone networks into the supply chain, improving the accessibility and availability of routine and emergency health supplies, reducing costs to access and receive these services, and improving the functionality of the infrastructural model through a layering of different services, including disaster preparedness, emergency management and search and rescue activities. 

As at end of FY22, they had delivered close to 1 Million of vaccinations, antibiotic packs, pathology samples, and PPE packs to remote communities in countries including the UK, Vanuatu, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Australia. 

Case study in Malawi

“If the patient comes in and says they need the anti-rabies, so we just make a request, then we have it” -- Zaina Kalemba, Lab Technician, Southern Malawi on Swoop Aero’s service 

The integration of the Swoop Aero bi-directional drone network in Malawi has strengthened the health supply chain through improved accessibility and availability of essential health supplies. This includes the reduction of critical journey times for routine and emergency cold chain samples and vaccines to hard-to-reach communities. 

For example, Swoop Aero delivered routine and emergency supplies between Nsanje district hospital and the district of Makhanga, reducing an 8 hour journey (one way) via road down to 35 minutes (one way) via drone. This reduced of critical journey times for the community to receive routine and emergency supplies, which also consequently led to increased capacity of the Makhanga health district to test and vaccinate people for TB. 

Delivery networks inside planetary bounds

The increasingly interconnected global logistics system comes with benefits, but also puts pressure on our environmental bounds.

Last-mile logistics emissions already account for around 1%* of global emissions and is expected to grow by 78% by 2030, so the increase in volume could substantially impact efforts to decarbonise. 

Electric aerial drones like those developed and operated by Swoop Aero provide a substantially more sustainable alternative to road transport options for deliveries across urban and to regional and remote communities. Multiple studies have found that deliveries via drones reduce fossil-fuel powered miles, with one study showing a 94-99% reduction in carbon emissions compared to alternatives including electric road vehicles. 

So far, Swoop Aero’s global fleet of electric drones has saved 500 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The use of drones has also served to reduce critical journey times for delivery of routine and emergency supplies, which has reduced the supply chain’s (over)dependence on cars, motorbikes and manned aviation to transport goods in a reliable and consistent fashion. 

Economic opportunity for local communities

As Swoop Aero is operating networks on the ground, they need local support to engage communities, operate drones, and provide health services. This means that, in addition to providing essential delivery services, they’re also hiring locally and providing economic opportunity.

As Swoop Aero scales its services to achieve its grand ambitions, it will also grow its local labour needs to benefit local communities in some of the world’s poorest countries. 

Giant Leap’s impact thesis

Giant Leap’s Theory of Change for our investment in Swoop Aero

If Giant Leap supports Swoop Aero with values-aligned capital, then Swoop Aero will be able to scale its healthcare and disaster-relief integrated drone services and ultimately improve health outcomes for 100s of millions of people living in remote communities and avoid emissions associated with logistics.

Impact metrics 

  • People impacted by improved access to essential services
  • Immunisations enabled
  • Medical supplies delivered
  • CO2e emissions saved across networks  


*Transport generates over 20% of global emissions, and last-mile deliveries typically account for around 5% of supply chain emissions

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