How to start a for-profit social enterprise

This series documents my journey as we build this Idea into something tangible. It all started with the movie The True Cost where i discovered that up to 2700L of water is needed to produce one cotton shirt. Shortly after this i made a decision to make people aware of this stupidity that is killing our planet and the people.

Last week i told you why i started this idea of giving clean drinking water and sanitations to people in need by avoiding the use of cotton. Here are some undeniable facts of the cotton industry, only in India!

The water consumed to grow India’s cotton exports in 2013 would be enough to supply 85% of the country’s 1.24 billion people with 100 litres of water every day for a year. Meanwhile, more than 100 million people in India do not have access to safe water.

So that in mind i started the idea of blue ben to change this unbalance of the water usage. In this post i will talk about what product we are trying to make, how we are building a social enterprise around it and what the next steps are.

What is our product/solution?

The first prototype made during a design thinking workshop in January 2017

Of course we had to come up with a textile solution. One of the main problems during my charity water campaign. was the fact that many people did not get something back for their donations. Of course the idea behind a donation isn’t getting anything back. But humans are selfish and they love to show others how they helped others. I am not judging people but i thought we could use that as a motivation to support our cause.

Many companys are doing social work as a for-profit company, here are a few:

All of the above have a social mission built into their business model. So do we. And this was the beginning of the journey to build a for-profit water giving company by selling apparel.

How do we build such a company/brand?

Here is a short checklist of how we decided to start :

  • come up with a product/service that solves a problem
  • develope a usp to the idea and the product
  • find water projects to work with
  • research different types of fabrics and their characteristics
  • choose sustainable and eco friendly fabrics with the lowest waterfootprint
  • find sustainable and eco friendly manufacturers, suppliers and factories
  • find people to help you with the design, concept, manufacturing.
  • start doing all of it and blog about it

And here we are right at the beginning of the process to start this mission. If you want to start something that is bigger than you, you must truly believe in it. I made a lot of mistakes in the past ( see here ) but this time

it is not about making money, it’s about making a difference. To start something that matters.

and therefore i contacted BRAC uk to visit Bangladesh in september. We will visit water projects funded and build by BRAC. Hopefully we get to know the people who are suffering from polluted water and also authorities, who are doing work that matters to so many people over there. BRAC europe is located in London where i’ll meet Chris in april. He is responsible for the communication between us and Bangladesh. It is always a pleasure to meet new people who are willing to help and offering more than you asked for. I am glad that Chris introduced and i am looking forward to meet him.

What are the next steps?

here are my goals for the upcoming week:

  1. Create a landingpage
  2. Create a budget spreadsheet.
  3. Create a Timeline with all to do’s
  4. Call the Designers and Manufacturing
  5. Book the flight to London
  6. make somebody smile :-D

Previous story: Introduction to blue bens journey

Thanks for reading!