October 19, 2011
The day after speaking with Edwin Broni-Mensah, I was sitting in a local cafe talking about plans for TheEmployable. Two coffees later, I had decided that a bottle of water was next…..but then……guilt….
It’s ironic that even during a recession, I was about to buy something that in the Western & developed World is generally free wherever you go. However in developing parts of the World, you cannot find water for love nor money…..30 Minutes with Edwin on the phone, the day before, had helped remind me of the perverse injustice that exists throughout the World, and Edwin’s chat had done its’ job in making bottled water a guilty pleasure that was no longer worth having.
It is therefore with pleasure that I ask that this story be passed on and that Edwin’s idea flourishes and grows. Edwin is on a mission to make water easily accessible to every human being in the world, not just the ‘bottled water’ elite (my words not his). Less than 2 years ago Edwin had gone to bed thinking of the very problem of water shortage in the world, the next day, we woke up with a solution…..
Edwin’s solution is pretty simple; encourage ‘GiveMeTap’ supporters to buy and then carry with them a life-time stainless steel bottle http://www.givemetap.co.uk/shop which can be taken into ‘Provider’ cafes or restaurants and filled up for free. No daily price, no plastic bottle, no need to buy bottles of water….simple. Through their Giving Back strategy they then give a portion of the bottle sales to help fund independent water projects in the Developing World.
A GiveMeTap user benefits from saving money, staying hydrated for free, and also having a social conscience…The Café benefits from have a social conscience and also the increase in footfall from people coming into their premises…The environment benefits from not having to deal with tons of plastic bottle waste….and the Developing World benefits from having money ‘pumped’ in to local Water projects.
Simple. But Brilliant.
So Edwin awoke with his idea, came up with the name, checked with his sister that is was a good idea, wrote a one page business plan, and applied to a local business competition. Edwin the Applied Maths PhD student at the University of Manchester was about to launch http://www.givemetap.co.uk/
When Edwin went to Manchester, he had an idea that an Entrepreneurial spirit would hit him. He originally thought he would developing a career in making computer games but it was after he joined the Manchester Entrepreneurs Society at the University that he kind of “fell into it”. He loved the idea of being able to problem solve and have the control over being able to work out how you “really want something to be done”.
The passion he had soon led to GiveMeTap setting up and developing a network of cafés and restaurants in the Manchester area that supported the scheme. Check out the map on the site, which shows you where in Manchester you can currently go; http://www.givemetap.co.uk/find_taps However since Edwin has now moved back home to London, he is now developing the London base and has managed to get providers to support the scheme in 15 Countries, including France and the Netherlands. Next month, the first café in Dublin is planning to run the scheme.
His proud African heritage, also comes across and ultimately you get the feeling he is offering a Worldwide solution to a rather economically perverse problem. In September 2010 he was named Britain’s top Black Graduate by Future Leaders magazine which profiles bright students of African and African Caribbean origin.
The Worldwide nature of the scheme, has been seen in the Worldwide support for the idea. Last month 29% of ‘GiveMeTap’ sales revenue came from outside of the UK and Edwin is fully confident that the true scale of the project is yet to be seen. “It’s a Life Changer” Edwin is keen to point out. Edwin also points out that social media and bloggers have played their parts. Not only did ‘GiveMeTap’ appear in Springwise as ‘idea of the day’ but he estimates that over 200 bloggers have to date written posts on the project.
And what about a big chain? Can you imagine a big national Café, adopting the scheme? Edwin is adamant that it is only a matter of time. ‘To be able to demonstrate a social conscience is more valuable than the bottles of water that they currently sell’, he suggests. I for one agree, and would encourage anyone, from a retail outlet, with café facilities, to national chain restaurants to support Edwin and his team on their empowering journey. But ultimately it is YOU and ME that can make this project work. And with that I am off to buy my GiveMeTap water bottle , to post over to my sister-in-law in Manchester. Buy one here if you ‘like’ the concept; http://www.givemetap.co.uk/shop
Buy a GiveMeTap metal water bottle, download the app, and a person in Africa gains access to clean drinking water. Google for Entrepreneurs has played a key role in GiveMeTap’s success from the beginning. It offered Founder Edwin Broni-Mensah a space to build a tight-knit team as well as an opportunity to be mentored by Google.
The Lovie Awards would like to honour Edwin Broni-Mensah with The Lovie Emerging Entrepreneur Award for starting the incredible social enterprise GiveMeTap right from his dorm room at university, and for using the Web to help people get access to clean water.