Did you know that producing one kilo of beef takes 15,000 litres of water? Or that growing a kilo of wheat soaks up 1,500 litres of the good stuff?
Nearly 900 million people around the world don’t have access to clean water, yet Australians spend a whopping $600 million on bottled water every year.
A couple of entrepreneurial young Melbournians know just how much strain this is putting on the precious resource and the plight of those that go without water. But instead of sitting by chewing on steak like the rest of us, they’re tackling the problem head on through innovative enterprise.
Head honcho Daniel Flynn and his mates have set up bottled water company Thankyou Water, where all profits go towards providing clean drinking water to battling communities abroad.
Flynn kicked off the project after seeing a video of a guy his age living in sub-Saharan Africa whose life revolved around collecting water for his family. The water he collected was contaminated and threatened the lives of those close to him.
“I couldn’t imagine spending a whole day to collect water, only to discover that the quality of what I’d collected was so poor that it could kill my family. At that point I felt I had to do something.” Flynn says.
That something was Thankyou Water. Wearing their parent’s suits and removing the P-plates from their cars before each meeting, Flynn and co-directors Jarryd Burns and Justine Flynn lobbied bottling facilities to produce their water.
“When we got to the fifth factory and shared our vision, the manager told us he’d been in the water bottling business for 15 years and thought bottling water was stupid, yet he agreed to produce our first 100,000 bottles, saying we could pay the cost of the goods when we could.” Flynn says.
On the back of a $1000 bankroll between them and some keen persistence, the three started what is now a national distribution of their product at over 2000 stockists. In December, Thankyou Water sales hit a monthly high of 220,000 bottles.
Depending on the retailer, each bottle's profit ranges from 8.5 cents to $1.20 with all the money donated to water projects in Cambodia, Kenya, Uganda and India.
“Of course, it’s far more effective to donate directly to charities that fund water projects but if you have to buy a bottle of water, Thankyou Water is a conscious alternative,’’ Flynn, 23, says.
It gets even more remarkable– none of the staff even draw a wage from the business. Flynn and his mates all work part-time jobs outside Thankyou Water to keep their lives ticking along.
“Basically just trying to make ends meet, just living week to week on a very small wage just volunteering our time and that sort of thing. But it’s so worth it.” Flynn reflects.
Thankyou Water is a great project from an incredibly charitable bunch of young Australians who are making a real difference. It's a great example of 'social business', where the purpose of getting into business is not with goal of making money, but of creating a solution to a problem. Where the business operates to create change and perpetually fund greater change in a social environment.
So next time you reach into the deli fridge for a Mount Franklin, stop to think for a second, and then pick up a Thankyou Water instead.
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