Shelf Life: Water for Africa with new Chivas venture
Cheryl Hunter (shelflife at marklives.com)’s weekly pick of all things new — product, packaging, design, insight, food, décor and more!
- I-Drop Water in Chivas Venture
- Gaia gets Inhouse overhaul
- Woolworths — a decade of doing good
Water from whisky
South Africa has experienced severe water shortages, with almost 2m people having no access to a reliable water supply between 2011 and 2015. This crisis has partly inspired the launch of I-Drop Water, which is already transforming the way safe drinking water is bought and sold in southern Africa.
Social entrepreneur, James Steere, has created I-Drop Water, a for-profit social enterprise that designs, builds and installs drinking-water purification and dispensing machines in grocery stores at no cost, sharing income generated from water sales with store owners. i-Drop Water has installed purification and dispensing units in over 55 locations in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, helping shop owners save almost 995 000l of water and over 1 300kg of plastic waste — an achievement that saw the company announced as the winner of the South African version of Chivas Regal’s The Venture III.
The Venture III is Chivas Regal’s global search to find, mentor and support burgeoning startups that are dedicated to making a difference in their communities. Steere was recently announced as the SA winner of the social entrepreneurship initiative and will travel to Los Angeles later in the year to compete for the global prize.
Says Steere: “Everywhere I have travelled in Africa, there is bottled water for sale in grocery stores at an exorbitant price. And yet, in many of these grocery stores, there is a water supply; what is missing is a way of purifying water on site. This is a widespread issue and 750m people across the globe still do not have access to safe, clean drinking water.”
I-Drop installs purification and dispensing units at the point of sale. Shoppers refill water containers, which means that plastic waste is reduced, and it is very affordable — up to 80% cheaper than bottled water. Meanwhile, the water supply comes at no cost to retailers, and the company splits the revenue with them, which drives economic activity in communities.
“I sincerely believe in the need for sustainable solutions, and the opportunity exists to create long-term, value-generative solutions through traditional, tested business models and wisdom,” says Steere. “We are extremely proud that our business is born in Africa and has potential to impact millions of people around the world as water shortage is a fast growing global crisis.”
Inhouse inside Gaia
Infrastructure investment company, Gaia, recently commissioned interior design firm, Inhouse Brand Architects, to create its new Cape Town office space, resulting in a design that is meant to perfectly complement the challenging and unusual architectural space.
Gaia’s offices are located in a striking architectural building in Claremont in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. The building’s façade, made up of concrete and exposed brickwork, is described as exuding an industrial feeling juxtaposed with organic elements, such as curved walls and timber beams.
Inhouse director Phillip Wyatt and team leader Megan Cloete steered the project and were inspired by both the infrastructure industry and the building itself, which came with curved glass windows and intricate timber-clad ceilings. They opted for an industrial-organic aesthetic and incorporated Gaia’s corporate colours of black, blue and gold into the design.
Explains Cloete, “The building is absolutely beautiful. We were able to extend this beauty by using neutral tones throughout the space [and] modern furnishings, as well as raw materials like concrete and timber.”
In keeping with the neutral colour palette and industrial theme, light-grey painted brick walls and concrete elements were included throughout and, in true mezzanine style, a steel staircase unites the ground floor and the second floor office areas. The overall result for Gaia is an appealing workspace that enhances the building’s impressive architecture.
Winning with Woolworths
Woolworths’ flagship South African sustainability programme, the Good Business Journey (GBJ), turns 10 this year, celebrating its achievements in transformation, social development, health and wellness, ethical sourcing, sustainable farming, waste, water and energy.
Says Justin Smith, Woolworths head of sustainability, “This is an important celebration, which allows us to remind ourselves that business is no longer about profit alone, but about creating shared value and delivering on our commitments and responsibilities to empowering our people and protecting our planet. This is precisely what the GBJ is about.”
The GBJ was a first of its kind in local retail whereby sustainability became a strategic platform for the business with specific public targets.
Chief executive Ian Moir says, “With hindsight, when we started the programme, we were thinking mainly as a South African business developing a strategic programme for South Africa. We are truly humbled at the international recognition we received for the GBJ and it’s something we didn’t foresee at the time.”
Some of the GBJ successes include:
- MySchoolMyVillageMyPlanet having raised R393m
- Over 600 primary and secondary suppliers being part of the Farming For the Future programme
- 4bn in value created over the life of its Black Employee Employment Share Ownership Scheme and R332m in dividends being distributed to beneficiaries over the life of the scheme
- 42% relative reduction in energy usage and over 50% relative reduction in water usage in SA stores
- More than 100 green stores and the completion of four solar projects so far
- 7m donated to the EduPlant programme.
- 44 enterprise development suppliers currently working with Woolworths.
- 381 jobs created through the Clothing Bank programme
- Over 10m PET bottles recycled into fibre for use in jeans, t-shirts, reusable fabric bags each year
- Having raised R10.7m for charity through sale of reusable bags.
Cheryl Hunter (@cherylhunter) has written for the South African media, marketing and advertising industries for more than 15 years. A former editor of M&M in Independent Newspapers and contributor to Bizcommunity, AdFocus, AdReview and the Ad Annual, she has also produced for various television networks and currently consults on communication strategy and media liaison.