In conversation with Simon Griffiths

Social entrepreneur Simon Griffiths at his city bar Shebeen. Photo: supplied

It’s been almost a year since I chatted to Melbourne social entrepreneur Simon Griffiths for Dumbo Feather but I’m pleased to report it’s now up and live. Simon has been on an interesting journey and if you’ve ever wondered how to be successful without being evil his story makes a useful template. I’ve pasted the introduction below but click here or on the picture above to read the story in full over at Dumbo Feather’s website.

Simon Griffiths is in the business of doing good

If you ask Simon Griffiths about what it means to be happy, he’ll tell you that joy comes from the search for meaningful solutions. As an entrepreneur, Simon has started a string of unique enterprises, from Ripple, an online fundraising platform, to Shebeen, a bar in Melbourne that donates 100% of its profits to development programs. His most recent venture, Who Gives a Crap, is a subscription-based toilet paper brand that donates half its profits to WaterAid. Simon’s journey reveals both a towering ambition and a feverish interest in the intricacies of how things work. If there’s one thread that runs through his diverse endeavours, it’s a commitment to alleviating poverty on a global-scale.

His story is perfect for anyone wanting to get into social enterprise—but also for anyone wanting to start a business, big or small. Or anyone dealing with obstacles. Most of us then, really.

PETER BARRETT: You’ve done various projects that combine enterprise with social development. How did you get started in this work?

SIMON GRIFFITHS: Throughout my university years I spent a lot of my holidays in Asia, and one year I was working with a really small NGO in Cambodia trying to figure out how they could use local tourism to funnel more money into their projects. So I launched a website with three other guys called Ripple that fundraises for different aid organisations using internet advertising. I thought it was going to be this amazing game-changer but we found that our main users were people already engaged in development aid. Ripple just gave them a different channel to engage with.

So it didn’t take off?

The website performed really well, it just didn’t do what I wanted it to do, which was to make development accessible to a new audience. So I started thinking about a few things. One was how, instead of trying to change people’s behaviour, you work with existing behaviour to create something that is potentially much more impactful.

Read the full conversation at Dumbo Feather here.