Meet the up and coming Australian based social enterprises that are challenging the norm.
During this series, we'll interview the finalists that made it to this year's Early Ethical Entrepreneur Pitch Competition and we'll find out what drives them, what their big vision is and how they are tackling social or environmental challenges. You will learn their stories of resilience, their discovery of purpose, and their visions for the future.
Winner of the People's Choice Early Pitch Competition
Interview with Haidar Al-Fallouji Co-Founder
Q. Describe your journey so far as an ethical enterprise – what is your purpose, and why you embarked on this journey?
Our purpose is to bridge the gap between people and charities. The concept of charityBay started from living in an apartment in inner-city Melbourne. It felt as though every day, new people were coming and going, and in their wake left countless items being left on the nature strips and in the communal rubbish rooms to be taken to landfill inevitably. A washing machine, a couch, an assortment of children’s toys left in a cardboard box labelled ‘free to a good home’.
But these items had worth – they still had life in them and would be perfect for someone else to use and love. And more surprisingly, they were belongings people were happy to part with for no monetary gain. So it got us thinking.. what if we could somehow sell these items and create a new revenue stream for those who truly need it. Cold hard cash that could be used in any charity, for any cause and go towards the personalised needs of those associated with any charity.
From there – our minds went wild. Imagine if we could simultaneously help those in need AND reduce our impact on the environment. Reducing landfill, increasing reusing and recycling. And hey! That pre-loved item you picked up on charityBay might even inspire a Saturday afternoon DIY project!
The opportunities are truly endless, I can think of at least ten items on my own which I would happily part with if I knew they would be loved by someone else, and the proceeds were helping those in need.
Convinced that everyone has the power to help, we committed to giving our sweat, blood and tears into this movement, the new era of giving back.
We worked non-stop and launched our very first prototype in February, pivoting and re-launching again in April. One thousand two hundred people have signed up to use charityBay. These are everyday Australians, a community committed to changing lives by donating their unwanted items and purchasing pieces that are helping fund charities.
Our journey has been a full adventure, from knocking on hundreds of doors, literally hundreds (pre-COVID), connecting with thousands of charities, to successfully sending these charities cash donations from the sale of what were once unwanted items. We must not take any credit there, though, as we simply created the platform – the bridge, so to speak. The real heroes are our users and of course, the charities
Q. How did you select a business model to achieve your vision, and what model works best for your enterprise?
The best way to amplify positive impact around Australia, and the world, is by having a sustainable and scalable business.
Our platform is entirely self-sustaining and operates automatically with only a slight need for human input. Sustainability, efficiency and scalability were the key elements we used to develop charityBay.
Our costs of operation are marginal, and we have developed all of our software in-house; therefore, we do not depend on any external infrastructure. Additionally, we reduce the operation costs of op shops by up to 10x, as well as expand their volume and reach radically higher capacities.
Having said that, we realised that a 5% commission fee of all transactions and advertisement would amplify our positive impact.
Q. What is the best part of being an ethical enterprise on a mission?
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give – Winston Churchill
I believe that the best part of having a social impact-driven organisation is that we give our lives a higher purpose, while always keeping in mind that we are not heroes. We are only facilitating a process. The real heroes are the charities, and users helping them on a daily basis.
Q. How do you extend your impact across to reach and engage with your stakeholders outside your direct clientele and partners?
I believe that the key is to remain honest and truthful at all times. If we speak from our hearts, work hard and listen to our users; our reach and impact are limitless, as there is nothing more powerful than acting together as a community.
Q. Where do you see your enterprise 10 years from now, and what is your big vision?
We believe in a world where every person has the power to help. The reality is that in Australia alone, over 8.3 Million people chose not to help just because of their financial constraint. We see charityBay allowing every individual to discover their power to create impact, eliminating the general misconception that money is needed to help.
Q. What message would you like to share with any other aspiring entrepreneurs who are interested in building their own vision?
My happiest moments haven’t been when I was sure about the result. They were when I was outside of my comfort zone. I know one might have some fear of being in unknown territories, but there is a high chance of finding passion and happiness above that fear. Take the risk, take action. Done is better than perfect, and most people regret what they didn’t do, not what they did.