Ahead of their corporate social responsibility panel at Turing Fest, we caught up with Brewgooder to learn more about their clean water initiative and how companies can take a beer out of their book and commit to doing good.
When Alan Mahon launched Brewgooder on World Water Day in 2016, the aim was to provide clean water for a million people through sales of what is billed as the world’s first “Clean Water Lager”. After a successful crowdfund, countless awards and over 1,200,000 cans sold, Brewgooder have become one of the top social enterprise businesses in the UK.
Social Enterprise in the UK
The United Kingdom is home to thousands of social enterprises dedicated to addressing social needs through innovative products and services in industries like healthcare, education and technology. It’s estimated that social enterprises contribute £60bn a year to the UK economy, representing 3% of UK GDP – three times the size of the agriculture industry, and employs over two million people – as many jobs as the creative industries sector. With investors more keen than ever to fund social enterprises and consumers more willing to buy from companies that have a social mission – the sector is booming.
Recently, a new generation of social enterprise leaders have come to the fore – unsatisfied with the lack of resources dedicated to solving social issues and the separation in business between financial goals and social goals. These social entrepreneurs have combined their tech know-how with a startup mentality that allows them to more easily address difficult social problems with innovative solutions that have mostly eluded governments and for-profit businesses.
Brewgooder came about after founder Alan Mahon picked up a parasite from drinking contaminated water on a trip to Nepal. The experience was a wakeup call for Alan who realised the tragic reality of the 884 million people around the world without access to clean drinking water, and the immense privilege most of us have here in the UK to be able to turn on the tap and access safe, clean water. Having worked with Josh Littlejohn on the Social Bite sandwich chains-turned-movement to end homelessness in Scotland, he saw first-hand how socially conscious businesses can transform a community. Setting out with a bold mission statement – to provide clean water for a million people, the team knew that for Brewgooder to be successful, sustainability and transparency would have to be brewed into the business at every stage.
A number of scandals in the UK charity sector in the past few years has meant that the public are now less trusting of organisations claiming to use their donations to do good – becoming increasingly selective about the channels they donate to. Greater access to information on the internet has allowed would-be donors to do their own research into the charities and social enterprises seeking donations and to assess the legitimacy of organisations claiming to do good. Pepsi’s disastrous ‘Live for Now’ ad campaign back in 2017 that was pulled the day after its distribution due to criticism, proved that consumers now expect more from brands than just bold statements and ‘corporate wokeness’. Accountability thus becomes another major factor contributing to the success of social enterprises like Brewgooder and their ability to stay true to their social mission whilst still making commercial gains.
More Than Just The Beer
Determined to stick to their promise and pass on as much as possible to charity, Brewgooder managed to get Scottish craft beer legends, BrewDog on board to brew and supply the Clean Water Lager at zero margin. The early partnership ensured more profits from the beers sold were going to the clean water projects on the ground in Malawi, inspiring trust in fans of the brand early on. Brewgooder have since spearheaded and committed to a number of initiatives like completely plastic-free packaging and sustainably sourced merchandise - earning them a number of awards, plus a reputation as the ‘good guys’ of the industry.
Transparency and accountability were at the core of Brewgooder’s Jingle Wells campaign that ran through November and December of last year and managed to raise £14,188 in crowdfunding to repair 12 wells in remote villages in Malawi. Brewgooder joined forces with the University of Strathclyde to use their real-time mapping technology to identify the 12 boreholes in Malawi that were in need of repair. The technology also allowed donors to see the true impact of their donations as they received live updates about the well repair work.
Consumers have come to expect a level of honesty from Brewgooder now, wanting to know more about how they do business and the true effects of their work. The Honesty Box campaign ingeniously turned the expectation around on buyers of the Clean Water Lager, allowing them to pay as little as 1p for six bottles of the beer. Alan said of the campaign:
We believe that when beer drinkers learn about our mission and what we do with our profits, they will be more than happy to pay an amount that fairly reflects the cause and the quality of our lager.
Companies like Brewgooder prove that even with a small team and limited resources, it’s possible to effect real change in a community. Since 2016, Brewgooder have helped to fund 132+ clean water projects in Malawi, impacting the lives of more than 64,748 people. Corporate social responsibility is becoming increasingly important for businesses looking to do their bit to help their communities and the environment, and there are some pretty easy ways to get involved and make an impact.
Brewgooder’s Office Beer Club is a beer subscription service for businesses that delivers cans or bottles of the Clean Water Lager to office fridges all over the UK. Members of the club help to fund the completion of a new water project every single month. The club now has over 120 companies registered, like Monzo, SkyScanner and Slack where employees can kick back with a beer on a Friday after a long week, and know they’re helping in their own small way to fund clean water projects for people in need.
At Turing Fest this year, not only will Brewgooder be supplying their crisp Clean Water Lager to all of our attendees – they’ll also be hosting a panel on corporate social responsibility with Trustpilot, Monzo and Skyscanner to discuss the project and how companies can commit to doing good at a time when the world needs it most. Don’t miss these homegrown heroes – grab your ticket now while you still can!
Time's running out to be part of Turing Fest 2019...