Edwin Broni-Mensah recently completed a PhD in Financial Mathematics at the University of Manchester where he previously gained a first class degree in computer science and mathematics. Edwin is a social entrepreneur with a passion for water-related issues. He is known as The Water Guy and is the founder of GiveMeTap.
During my studies I had a couple of placements with Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, and was an active member of the student enterprise society. I was inspired by the water supply difficulties and the plight of many of my relatives in Ghana. GiveMeTap is delivering solutions to enable easy access to water through developing water technologies, infrastructure and fundraising.
You buy a blue recycled aluminium bottle for £7 and when you want a drink of water you take it into ‘taps’ - cafés and restaurants which have signed up as providers of the scheme. 70% of the company's profits go towards providing clean water and irrigation in Africa, helping communities in drought-stricken areas install clear water pumps.
I travelled to Namibia, Africa, where I worked alongside the local community and volunteers from All4One to help complete a water borehole project, helping 1,200 people get access to safe drinking water. With GiveMeTap, I created a business model connecting people in different parts of the world.
With the idea of ‘the reusable water bottle with benefits’, I entered a number of competitions and was awarded a series of awards and grants including, Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award of £1,000 at a National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs (NACUE) event, Venture Further Business Award (University of Manchester’s business plan competition), Catalyst Award and UnLtd Development Award of £15,000.
I successfully gained access, not only to funding and awards, but also importantly to new sponsors, mentors and new outlets, which are all vital to the development of the business.
In September 2010, I was nominated as ‘Britain's top black graduate’ by Future Leaders magazine.
There are currently 49 ‘taps’ in the Manchester area and the businesses which take part all benefit from increased footfall and sales as well as good PR for being involved in a socially conscious scheme.
Now based in London, my target is the London 2012 Olympic Games. I am aiming to implement the scheme so that people can access free water when visiting the Olympic sites. However, my overall ambition is to provide one million people with access to clean water by 2015.
My advice to would-be student entrepreneurs is to choose to make meaning in this world and thus do something that you love to do over thinking about how much money you can make.
Secondly, be bold and remember that ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’. Especially important to me since I frequently need to speak to company owners and ask them to support my water scheme. Above all, my key to success in both academic pursuits and social endeavours is to have as much fun as possible.
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