Guest Post for Social Enterprise UK: Why Should We Buy Social?

as published by SEUK on SocialSaturday.org

originally posted 13th September 2014.

To celebrate the launch of Social Saturday, it is only fit to pose the question of why ‘buying social’ is so important. As a company based on the concept of buying for social good, we tend to passionately discuss this question quite a bit at GiveMeTap HQ. However, when I ask friends & family this same question, there can be a lot of vague nuances of saving the environment or helping the poor, when actually, there is so much more to it.

Recently, we’ve seen an emergence of businesses that sell products in order to serve their customers as well as produce some sort of social good. This means we’ve discovered a world in which we don’t have to differentiate between making money and helping others. We’ve also seen an increase in people actually buying from these businesses, meaning that this new world could actually work! This is why each of us should ignite this culture of socially conscious buying.

Taking a step back, this prospect can seem a bit overwhelming. How can one person, buying their daily essentials, make that much of a difference? It is actually quite an exciting prospect. For example, according to studies in the US, 51% of Millennials are already changing their buying behaviours away from environmentally unfriendly brands . It is this behaviour and being more conscious of what enters your household, you intrinsically feed this culture to the people around you.

For example, at your next meeting, you may suggest the environmental benefits for your business to swap to a more sustainable printer, or the cost benefits of abolishing plastic cups, improving the culture of responsibility within the firm. You may even share your new way of living with your friends who then start buying fair trade snacks for their children’s lunchboxes and environmentally friendly toilet roll for home. The change in what you purchase is noticed by other businesses that then recognise that they can provide these socially responsible options. This is the ideal we can strive for.

The evidence of this can be seen first hand in the running of our own business. Through a small, simple purchase of buying a GiveMeTap bottle, we have been able to help bring clean water to almost 5000 people in Africa, while people have been able to live more sustainably, switching away from plastic bottles. They then spread the GiveMeTap mission to friends, family and even their workplace, meaning that we can further our impacts as our company grows.

We underestimate the sheer power that we have as individuals who make a choice to buy things and what this translates to. As we’ve learnt from our friend, Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. When we buy a bar of chocolate or a new T-shirt, not only do we have the influence to effect what flavours or prints are released next season, we are exercising the ability to effect how a business interacts with the World. Use your power!

Over & Out

Good Kid, Maad City: Weeks 7&8

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a blur. Being involved with GiveMeTap operations as well as PR/communications means that many days are spent just getting things done, as opposed to big events… I want to say this is my excuse for not writing a Week 7 entry, but I’m sure i’ll be caught out sooner than later as I actually spent quite a bit of last week on holiday!

IT IS SUMMER, YOU KNOW!

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So right now i’m going to just talk about 2 amazing things that have happened over the last couple of weeks. Both have added substantially to my PR portfolio (although one has  significantly more than the other!)

Firstly, I was interviewed by London Calling, who loves GiveMeTap and wanted a feature to share with London. Read it HERE. This was amazing as it has now gone on their website and I felt like a minor celebrity for about 5 minutes. It was nice! Today, three of my friends and family have shared my interview on social media, showering me with kind words of praise. Thank you – you know who you are!

2013-08-15 23.24.18Secondly, and more importantly, a lead that I had been chasing had finally been closed. We were published in the most widely distributed and read paper on public transport in the UK – THE METRO! Yes,  you heard right! THE ACTUAL METRO. For years I have been reading that infamous publication and not just for the guilty pleasures or the horoscope! I knew that when I came to GiveMeTap, it would be my aim, not only to have a print published piece, but get into the Metro. I DID IT! I managed to bag Edwin an interview with a writer who happened to LOVE what GiveMeTap were doing. He wrote an amazing piece on us and the traction that day was UNBELIEVABLE. Sales were through the roof, people were talking about us and people were even recognising us. Again, I felt like a minor celebrity but for a bit longer than 5 minutes this time! 🙂

You can read the piece HERE.

Watching this business grow is amazing. Not only is the work satisfying, but it is so much fun! I genuinely feel sometimes, that this is all a dream. I hate the thought of pinching myself and waking up at my university desk writing an application for a job I don’t want at a firm I don’t want to be working for. A good friend and mentor of mine once told me, “Never compromise on what you want from life. By all means ‘shop around’. Explore all your options. But just don’t compromise…” Wise words from a wise woman. I intend to follow them!

Over & Out

Good Kid, Maad City: Week 6

Hello all!

Another short but sweet entry! This week has been as busy as ever, as you may have figured since I have been less responsive on most media forms (This is rare for me!).

We launched our summer campaign, MindTheTap, on Tuesday and have been ‘all systems go’. This week, and more specifically, that day, really tested my ability to deliver under pressure. We had a very tight deadline to launch MindTheTap and needed to work together as well as individually to achieve success. The first feeling of ‘work pressure’ had hit me, and it was surprisingly addictive. I loved the rush of being productive and just getting things done!

It also led me to achieve a major goal – my first real published article! On the PR side of my placement, this is big news as it starts of my portfolio of material, while showing I can pitch to journalists. That bit has been pretty scary, if i’m honest! However, I am getting more confident with time! You can read my piece here: http://www.greenwisebusiness.co.uk/news/green-sme-givemetap-signs-major-water-bottle-deal-with-deloitte-4043.aspx.

I’m really appreciating all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of a business like this. You have to live and breathe what you do without over exerting yourself and compromising your long-term success. Everyday is worth it when I think of the bigger picture of why we do what we do, and the amazing results – we contribute to helping people survive.

Very proud to be here. I hope that everyone reading this takes time to like our facebook page, maybe buy a bottle, and feel as proud as I am! 🙂

Over & Out

If you haven’t already, find out what adoseofpersonalwhim is about in About Sanum Jain

Good Kid, Maad City: Week 5 (this is a good’un…)

FIRSTLY I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all friends, family, people from afar, who have read my blog. I hope you are all enjoying the story of my journey. I definitely enjoy writing about it. 

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This week has been intense – probably the best week so far and also one of the most eventful weeks in a very long time. On Tuesday, I graduated from the University of Manchester with a 2.1 degree in Economics & Development Studies. Graduating is an extremely surreal experience. It consists of getting your gown fitted by a stranger, hoping you sit next to someone you know in the hall and then ensuring that your family takes you for an extravagant meal. I was lucky enough to get fitted by someone from my hometown, be seated next to a guy I knew from a first year tutorial and found a secret, beautiful pizzaria to celebrate with my family. However, Graduation itself, is a production line. A queue of students, being stamped with some sort of ‘seal of approval’ and ready to be shipped off and shelved with the rest of the world. It was a happy but somehow a depressing few hours.

Onto more exciting things, GiveMeTap have been hard at work but having a bit too much fun as well. Edwin (my boss) came back from Ghana after unveiling the latest water project. He showed us hundreds of photos from his time with the people of Kpakpalamuni, in the Upper West region of Ghana. It was hard to see the conditions that these people live in but then seeing the water pump we installed just reassured me of why I chose to be apart of GiveMeTap. We just helped around 850 people by giving them access to clean drinking water and practically eradicating the chances of them dying from water-related diseases.

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Many of you may have seen me plaster Facebook with the events of Friday. Friday was the best day of my time in London so far! GMT were lucky enough to be approached by the BBC to do a segment on tap water as part of another feature. We filmed outside FlatPlanet, a flat bread eatery on Great Marlborough Street. I very much recommend you visit for lunch, by the way. Amazing food and people! Edwin shot an interview where he got to talk about the GMT scheme and officially place the Tap sticker on the FlatPlanet door.

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The Droplets’ moment of fame came when we hit Carnaby Street. Ben and I were filmed talking to members of the public about tap water and about GMT. Needless to say, handing out flyers was frustrating and did not receive a great reception, however I plucked up the courage to talk to people and encourage them to talk on telly for 30 seconds. Remember, my childhood dream was to be a Blue Peter presenter, so I needed to step up! It was such a fun day and really got us all at GMT really hyped! We hope the segment will air in a few weeks.

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Hold your horses before you jump from here to Facebook, as the day did not end there… as a PR intern, I’ve been trying to find ways of boosting GMT’s publicity. It just so happened that because my (amazing) aunt spent the week mentoring at Kings Collage for a Space Outreach programme, she got to work with Astronaut Kenneth Ham and his wife and astronaut trainer, Michelle Ham. Ken had discussed with his students on the programme, the importance of looking after our planet and how he could see from space the damage we were doing to our home. I was able to use this opportunity to ask Ken a few questions for GiveMeTap, about the importance of reducing waste and protecting everyone on our planet. My first mini interview with a renowned  Space Personality, a casual dose of Pimms o’clock and conversations about space food. Not bad!

The day ended with a spontaneous trip to Riverside Theatre to see the powerful Nirbhaya, a play based on the events last December – the Delhi Gang-rape. Nirbhaya was the name given to the victim, meaning Fearless One. This play was less a performance, but more a theatrical sequence of testimonials. Real stories from acting personalities who had experienced the toils of being a female in India, Pakistan and even America and chose now to reveal their stories. I didn’t realise until after the performance that these Women were telling their own stories. This wasn’t acting. This was real. The Delhi Rape posed as a turning point for all 5 of these Women who then chose to share their most personal experiences with us through theatre. Powerful, Intense and left me lost for words. I will be writing a review of this, hopefully tomorrow, so please please read it. However uncomfortable, it is a must see for everyone, especially young men and women from South Asian backgrounds.Overall, this has been such a productive, intense and emotional week. It is probably the first time I have felt that I would love to tell you all individually what I have done and explain every detail! For those of you who will be lucky enough to escape this, I hope you have had an equally as amazing week. For those of you who I may see soon, BE PREPARED!

Over & Out.

Good Kid, Maad City: Week 4

Hey Kids! Can you believe i’ve finished Week 4?!

To be fair, after suffering from tonsillitis for the week, it does feel more like Week 3! I have lots to share with you about the amazing things I have done this week. I’ve managed to watch at least one episode of Game of Thrones a night, discovered how edgy Shoreditch is and sampled almost all the japanese food chains in Old Street.

In all seriousness, considering Edwin (my boss) is still out saving the world one droplet at a time, I have taken it on myself to be proactive and I am quite surprised at myself! It all started on Monday when I stumbled across a Google Campus event on ‘Doing Your Own PR’. Aimed at start-ups without PR experience, the workshop set out to allow new entrepreneurs pick the brains of PR, Camera and Business specialists as to how to make the most of publicity. New to both the world of business and public relations, I registered straight away knowing it would help me out.

I was not wrong at all. Yes, I got a few tips and tricks from Bernie Mitchell on how to maximise social media publicity. Yes, I got some golden advice from Paul Blanchard about doing your own PR. However, the most useful aspect of this event is the confidence it gave me in what I was doing. I realised that I was on the same platform as these brilliant people and learning the same thing. This made me feel a lot more at ease with what I am doing and got me to understand that I don’t need to have it all figured out just yet. I’m still learning! Great experience!

The other exciting thing I did this week, was embark on a GiveMeTap bottle photography shoot with my fellow intern, Ben. We thought we needed some more bottle paparazzi and therefore took it on ourselves to get out there and get some snaps of the bottle in London. Not only did I learn a lot about visuals and photography (in terms of placement and lighting – not actually taking the photo as that was Ben’s expertise…) but I got to discover a bit more of the City as well. We shot two sessions this week and really had a great time. Learning on the job!

Here are a few snaps – Ben was cheeky and got me in a few of them!

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I’m also quite proud of what GiveMeTap have achieved this year as a social enterprise. This week, we found out that we have been nominated for 4 awards. Yeah, FOUR! Two of these awards are in separate categories in the same competition – The British Young Business Awards. The BYBA have nominated us for Social Enterprise and Social Corporate Responsibility of the Year. Virgin Money Be The Start Campaign has also named us as a finalist, chosen to pitch our movement to a panel. Last but not least, RSM Tenon have nominated us for a European Business Award, acknowledging our position as a small but mighty force.

After a really busy Friday, I finished the week at the infamous Uderbelly festival near the London Eye. Close cousins, old friends and new places. Too many drinks, a realisation that London transport pretty much blows and an avid reminder that if I’m going to sustain myself in this brilliant city, i’m going to have to soon start earning some dollar…

Back to reality it seems… until next week 🙂

Over and Out!

Good Kid, Maad City: Week 2

A short but sweet entry….

This week has been quite a different working experience. As Edwin (my boss) headed to Ghana to supervise the latest water project, myself and my fellow intern, Ben, were left to our own devices. This was my first real experience of working independently and having to make my own decisions regarding design, content and organisation.

Unfortunately, the week as well as current week 3 have been cut short due to an unfortunate diagnosis of tonsillitis. Not only has this hindered my work, but also affected my 21st Birthday over the weekend. For those of you who knew me in my school days, you would understand why this is so frustrating. I hate breaking routine due to illness and I would just go into school anyway. However, this time, I’ve had to learn that sometimes things are just out of your control.

Depending on my health, I shall have some more exciting updates soon! It is in times like these that internet technology is a lifesaver!

Over and Out!

Good Kid, Maad City: My First Week

Walking into the Google Campus everyday is quite surreal. The burst of entrepreneurial energy really does shine through and you can tell everyone has an exciting story behind their decision to start their own business. I must admit, this last week, although there has been quite a lot of work, there has been a significant amount of people watching!

Work wise, I’ve been really lucky to gain on-the-job experience from day 1. I’ve learnt how social media acts as a really important form of marketing in today’s business world. Many people think the significance of social media is overstated. Maybe, I used to be one of those people, but my perception is definitely starting to change now that I am on the other side of business and I have a lot of control over the platforms. Apologies for all of those who just see ‘Sanum has liked GiveMeTap’s photo’ every hour and ‘Sanu has retweeted GiveMeTap’ every other hour. Actually, i’m not sorry… please like the Facebook page and make me look really good. 

I’ve done some press related things also, however I know that the meat will come when I’ve built a bit more of a relationship with people and also when I get to know how everything works a little bit better. It’s going to be exciting.

EVENT OF THE WEEK: So, some geeza comes up to me and asks me what I was doing at the Hub. I explained what GiveMeTap was, and my role, and he suddenly asked if I could do an interview for The One Show. This was really bizarre and random, but I thought WHY NOT – Perfect press opportunity for GiveMeTap. I was really proud of this opportunity. However, when the camera started rolling, and I had a GMT speech ready at the tip of my tongue, I got HIT with “So how do you feel about Google having access to so much of our data?”. My heart dropped, my legs went to jelly and my throat closed up. It was awful and I was just so thrown off with no briefing or warning. But within 3 seconds, I realised I had to turn this around. I managed to coherently discuss with presenter Alex Riley about this topic which I had very little concrete knowledge about and I have to say, I was pretty proud of myself. After signing one of those film shooting forms, part of me was really eager to watch it, but come Thursday, I was quite relieved that it didn’t get picked to air. It was slightly embarrassing and I had no make-up on. Not one for the memory bank!

Hope you enjoyed your first weekly update! I’ll leave you with a picture of when Edwin (my Boss), Ben (fellow intern) and myself randomly went to this random Museum of Water exhibition and partied hard with shots of water. Tap Water. Did I mention how random it was?

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Over and Out.