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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Australian Social Enterprise Partners with WaterAid To Wipe Away Disease in Africa

To prepare for this year's Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) competition, we're catching up with some of our favorite entrepreneurial ventures from competitions past ...

The next time you visit the loo, consider yourself lucky. While many might think little about answering nature’s call, some 2.5 billion people — or roughly 40 percent of the global population — do not have access to a toilet. In areas lacking adequate facilities, human waste can contaminate drinking water, which when combined with malnutrition, often causes gastrointestinal infections such as diarrhea.

Diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, and is responsible for killing more than 660,000 children every year, according to the World Health Organization. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, each day nearly 2,000 children under the age of 5 perish from the preventable (and treatable) illness.

While these figures are enough to make anyone feel down in the dumps, a Melbourne-based start-up called Who Gives a Crap (WGAC) has launched a social enterprise to help flush out poverty and wipe out disease in Africa (puns intended). The company sells eco-friendly toilet paper made from 100 percent recycled fibers that are devoid of chlorine, inks, dyes or perfumes and are biodegradable and safe in septic tanks. WGAC says it will give half of its profits to international non-profit WaterAid to build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world.

To fund its efforts, last July WGAC launched an IndieGoGo campaign that raised over $50,000 in less than 50 hours. To help build publicity for the crowdfunding campaign, the company’s co-founder, Simon Griffiths, held himself hostage on a toilet until the goal was met.

WGAC was a finalist in the 2011 Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) competition, where it competed alongside several other start-ups engaged in sustainability and social entrepreneurship. After presenting its offering before a group of social and sustainability investors, executives from leading companies and top brand consultants, WGAC won the People’s Choice Award for its creative approach to tackling global problems.

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