Scott Anderson

Weekly Roundup: Flushed – Is This Any Way to Crowdsource a Social Enterprise?

You have to give Simon Griffiths credit, or at the very least, an inflatable cushion to sit on.

There are many dedicated CEOs leading social enterprises around the world. But just how many would be willing to drop their trousers and sit on the toilet for all the world to see in order to meet their pre-production sales goals.

On Tuesday the founder and CEO of Good Goods, took a seat on the throne and didn’t get off until 50 hours later – all while under the watchful eye of a webcam.

By then, Griffiths and company had raised more than $50,000 in pre-orders to fund the first bulk production run of Good Goods’ new line of toilet paper: ‘Who Gives A Crap’. Working with WaterAid, the company plans to dedicate 50 percent of the paper’s profits to build toilets and improve sanitation in developing countries.

“I’m off the loo, thank God,” Simmons said after his two day “sit,” as the company dubbed it. But Good Goods is still taking pre-orders for the products, and Griffiths said he hopes to raise $100,000 to fund a special “business range” of the toilet paper. (Check out the video below for more).

Unsurprisingly, the Australia-based Griffiths is a graduate of the Unreasonable Institute.

While the ‘Who Gives a Crap’ campaign triggers giggles, its intent is serious. Some 2.5 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation, according to the World Health Organization.

Just how effective this rollout (pun intended) will be depends less on publicity stunts and much more on the fundamentals. Is this a good product? Can the company build a loyal customer base and gain access to supermarkets to expand beyond a small band of online shoppers? Will customers pay a premium for a social good? And related to that perennial question, will the company transparently show how its profits are making an impact?

One question I don’t have: Will the team have an attention-grabbing marketing campaign?

Setting Data Free

Speaking of crowdsourcing, last month USAID’s GeoCenter and Development Credit Authority turned to the masses by opening up its massive cache of loan guarantee data.

“Without the staff or resources to comb through 117,000 loan records on our own, we turned to the crowd for help in opening our data to the public,” wrote Ben Hubbard, director of USAID’s Development Credit Authority. “The released data represents an anonymized 117,000 loans made by these institutions thanks to risk-sharing agreements with the U.S. Government.”

The unshackling of this data and associated map, means entrepreneurs, donors, private aid workers and others can compare their data with that of USAID’s, building a more complete development picture. The complete dataset, associated map, and case study can all be accessed on USAID’s website.

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