“DRAKNÄSTET” – EVERY BOTTLE SOLD BRINGS CLEAN WATER TO AFRIKA
Some weeks ago I was once again with a pleasure following a popular TV-show called ”Draknästet” similar in concept to the BBC Dragons’ Den where entrepreneurs get to pitch their ideas to five potential investors. It can be very inspiring to see people pitching their great ideas and how, if they manage to convince the investors to offer them a bid. Quite often money isn’t all they are after but also competence, qualifications and network. What surprised me watching the last show last week was their attitude towards a pitch combining commercial and charity idea. Henrik Zander and Karl Wijkmark, two young entrepreneurs from Gothenburg presented an idea of selling their of brand of water while investing a part of their profits into building water wells and providing clean water in Africa. Consumers are given the option to finance water projects by their usual purchase of water. I’m not saying that the business idea in itself was perfect; there were several parts unclear; like the detail on the amount of profits that were to invest to Africa. What bothered me most was attitude investors showed towards and idea that is school example of social entrepreneurship (with the correct execution off course). Douglas Roos stated that a mixture of charity, capitalism and help organisations makes him allergic, while Susanna Falkengren defined it as a ethical grey zone she would not whish to be associated with. In spite of initial optimism even Sven Hagströmer had no interest taking part in the water business.
I do understand in a way their doubts and second thoughts about partnering commercial ideas with charity, but that can be overcome by looking at it from another perspective: just as they mentioned traditional charity organisation are losing their trust by serving only themselves, furthermore only giving away resources and living on charity is by far not sustainable. Why should we not use well known business models we know work to solve bigger problems of society?? And once and for all stop using the term charity and instead invest in good ideas. Of course this is not possible without some crucial predispositions such as transparency and effective usage of resources and mostly good execution.
Once again I am not saying that presented “water idea” is something I would invest in right away, what I would like to point out is the attitude of people that have great power in our society. Risk capitalists, like the “dragons” in the show are very influential, sitting on valuable financial and social resources. I wish I would get the chance to have a workshop or an open debate about social entrepreneurship with them! Would definitely be an interesting and passionate discussion!