Social enterprise in books: Better World Books

Better World BooksSince I’ve been researching the social enterprise sector, I’m constantly surprised and delighted when I stumble across a new example, in a sector which is sustainable and being scaled.

Better World Books is the online bookstore with a soul, founded by three college students in 2002. They sell new and used books online and help fund literacy programs worldwide with the proceeds – a bit like TOMS Shoes with their programme (it must be an American thing).

They’ve achieved impressive statistics: $8 million raised for literacy and libraries, 6.5 million books donated and over 92 million books reused or recycled but they’re got even more ambitious plans. I know 92 million books recycled!

By year-end they plan to have over 1,000 boxes in 50 cities. The drop boxes will improve their logistics infrastructure and also act as advertising, they have all bases covered. They’re also focusing more on online sales, initially they sold through Amazon but are increasingly selling more inventory through their own site (makes sense for a better margin).

It’s no wonder they’re a top 5000 fastest growing company for the 4th year running.

Hereos – Simon Griffiths from Who Gives a crap

There are some people in life who do great things and Simon Griffiths is one of them. My gorgeous friend Leanne Hammill works for the Loop in Australia and knows my love of social enterprise. She kindly sent me this as she thought I’d love it, and she was right. Great interview with the man himself.

Simon is a social entrepreneur, sounds good huh, wouldn’t we all like to be?

He’s the founder of ‘Who gives a crap’ and works in a team of three, with the perfect combination of skillsets (economics, product design and engineering). You can meet the team here. They wanted to make a difference and set up ‘Who gives a crap’, a brand new toilet paper brand. 50% of the profits go to developing countries, via WaterAid, to help provide better sanitation and more toilets.

They needed to raise £50,000 to be able to start the brand and put in a bulk order, so they did a crowd funding campaign. Simon sat on the loo at 6am July 10th, recorded via Google Hangouts, so it was all live streamed and didn’t get off until the £50,000 had been raised. Put your money where your pants are (sorry had to.)

They successfully raised £60,000 in fact and are hoping to corner the business market for bulk orders.

They won a bunch of business plan awards and spent two years perfecting the product and viable business model. What a bloody brilliant project.