Brewgooder launched in early 2016 with CEO and serial social entrepreneur Alan Mahon at its helm. The craft beer company is unique in that 100% of its profits are donated to clean water charities working in developing countries.
The mission is simple, make good craft beer for people to enjoy, and provide clean water for one million people around the world.
Mahon’s story begins a few years back, when he was 21 and working in Nepal, ‘I was out in the provinces… I drank some water which I shouldn’t have, and I was warned against. Progressively, it made me quite ill and when I came back [to Glasgow], I had a parasite which was doing me a wee bit of damage’.
Thanks to the NHS, Mahon received the treatment needed to ensure he returned to the full of his health. But the incident had a profound impact on him, as he recognised that without clean water and a proper health infrastructure, too many people become fatally ill, as they continue to be denied one of the most basic necessities of life; clean drinking water.
It wasn’t until 2013, when Mahon started working with Social Bite – a social enterprise that employs homeless people to produce and distribute sandwiches around Scotland – that he began to think again about his experience in Nepal and how he might establish a business where he could marry his ambition and entrepreneurial spirit, with his values and his passion for helping others.
‘I fell into social enterprise; it gave me the opportunity to build a business, to live by my values and to help other people. You get the satisfaction of building up a brand, making sales and having a team of dedicated employees but you do it for non-financial reward’.
‘Social Bite was like my apprenticeship; the guy who founded it and I got quite close, and we were thinking of new business ideas, for me it was not too much of a leap to go into craft beer with Brewgooder’.
The idea for Brewgooder came to the lads one night in a pub. But they knew immediately that brewing beer to help with homelessness, as they had being with Social Bite, would have undermined their intention, ‘while craft beer is not the cause of homelessness, we couldn’t mix the aspect of addiction with addressing homelessness’. It was then that Mahon came up with his idea to make great beer which would give someone else clean drinking water: ‘There was a nice symmetry, a business model that was not for profit; 100% of profits given to clean water projects’.
So how does it work? ‘We have a selling price which includes cost of goods, the making of the beer, employing the people to sell it. Then, whatever we have left, we pass that onto our charity partners’.
‘So far in our first year, we have provided 5,000 people in two towns in Malawi with clean drinking water, by March 2018, we hope to have scaled that up from two projects to 60 which means over 30,000 people will have access to clean water.’
This is very early days for the project and it has been massively successful already, but as with any young business, there are certain challenges; ‘We’re working in different countries where you can’t always be on the ground, so you have to have trust with the NGOS and the charity partners that you’re working with.’
Mahon is constantly checking in with himself, to ensure his values are aligned with his business goals: ‘As long as we can keep increasing our impact, consumers will understand that this is a worthwhile investment. Sooner rather than later we’ll be taking people out of a situation where they don’t have safe water to drink.’
‘We’re ambitious to think that we can provide clean water to one million people – to a certain extent it’s naivety. But if we got to half a million, I would feel comfortable saying that we made a difference, we’ll just keep going, whether that takes 5 years like we thought, or whether that takes 20 years – we’re still going to get there.’
And what if they reach their target, will they stop making beer? ‘If we get to a million people we will just start a new campaign and probably try get to two!’.
Right now, Brewgooder is available in many restaurants and pubs around the UK and has just been stocked on the shelves of Asda. It’s not currently available in the Republic of Ireland, but for a man with a goal to provide one million people with clean drinking water, it seems like it’s just a matter of time: ‘I’m Irish, so I want to make sure that the next time I visit my sister in Dublin, that I can have a pint [of Brewgooder] with her in one of the pubs there’.
You can learn more about the campaign by visiting their website here.