Who-Gives-A-Crap proved that a company that gives away half its profits to charities can scale, and, that it can raise big dollars to grow even bigger.
The social enterprise raised $41.5 million in a round led by Brussels-based Verlinvest; as well as Mike Cannon-Brookes, through Grok Ventures, AirTree Ventures, Giant Leap, Craftory and Jamjar. An impressive list of individuals also got involved; Adore Beauty founders Kate Morris and James Height; Culture Amp’s Didier Elzinga and Doug English; Canva co-founder Cameron Adams; Paul Polman from Unilever; as well as a roster of sports-people who invested through Athletic Ventures.
“Who Gives A Crap is an impressive Aussie underdog story. Simon and his team have taken something so simple – toilet paper – and turned it into an impactful business, both socially and environmentally. I hope other entrepreneurs are inspired by their story of building a profitable, fast growing business that is also environmentally sustainable.” says Mike Cannon-Brookes, on behalf of his family office Grok Ventures.
It’s the first time the social enterprise has opened-up to outside investment, they were founded in 2012, and they stayed-true to their ethos. Founder Simon Griffiths explained they didn’t just want capital, they wanted partners who were aligned with their mission, and who would contribute to the evolution of the business. His list of requirements included.
“They had to support our mission and recognise that doing good isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s what makes us successful. They had to be in it for the long haul. That’s because we’re in it for the long haul — it’s taken us 9 years to get to where we are today, so we know it will take a lot longer for us to make sure everyone has access to clean water and a toilet. They had to have experience and expertise that we could learn from.”
In July 2020 the company announced their biggest ever donation. They contributed a huge $5.85 million to their charity partners. They support a variety of water, sanitation and hygiene (aka WASH) projects, like building toilets, advancing disability inclusion, and providing soap and handwashing stations in countries like Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Kenya and India.
This total was five times greater than the previous year’s. And doubled the total amount donated.
Paradoxically, the covid19 pandemic saw a boom in toilet paper sales, as panic buying set-in they were actually forced to stop accepting new customers. It meant record profits, and of course record donations.
In 2021 they reported a more modest donation total of $2.5 million, which brings their total to a very impressive $10 million.
They aren’t raising money just to grow, they are raising money to do more good.
“To reach our ambitious (audacious, even) impact trajectory, we need to scale the business. To do that, we need additional capital – that’s why we started entertaining the idea of investors.” says Simon Griffiths.
The funds will go towards expanding their global reach, making more products, as well as scaling their sustainability initiatives and streamlining their supply chain towards a net-zero goal.