Simon Griffiths leads in social enterprise with Shebeen

Twenty‐seven year old Simon Griffiths is leading the pack of the Gen Y driven non‐profit social enterprise sector in Australia.

Simon GriffithsSimon has broken away from a 9 to 5 job and combined his skills, knowledge and experience abroad with a deep passion for social change, all in the name of making a difference in the developing world. His tool: a non‐profit bar called Shebeen.

“The willingness of Gen Ys to rethink and step away from work and business traditions is inherently beneficial for society. They’re following the basic economic principle of comparative advantage – following their passions and producing what they’re most efficient at. As a whole, society will be better off,” believes Simon.

Simon is the perfect example of a Gen Y moving away from the conventional career path of working up the corporate hierarchy, reaching 40, 50 or even 60 years old and only then starting to think what they can do to give something back.

After finishing University, Simon was offered a number of graduate positions with top‐tier firms and narrowly missed out on a Victorian Rhodes scholarship to study economics at Oxford.

Acknowledging his achievements and hard work, Simon stopped to ask himself whether his life was moving in the direction he wanted – as a result he decided to spend six months in Africa, learning about development economics first hand. Moved by his experiences in Africa, Simon changed his course in life, choosing to use his abilities and knowledge to create something that was about more than personal financial gain. This is when the idea of Shebeen came to life. Named after the formerly illicit bars that served the black community in South Africa during apartheid, Shebeen will stock beer and wine from developing countries including Vietnam, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Profits from each drink sale will support a project in that drink’s country of

For Shebeen, Simon has a cracking team of keen specialists to help bring this concept to life. “I’ve been overwhelmed by the support that has been offered to Shebeen. The vast majority of the Shebeen team is aged 20‐30 and everyone happily contributes on top of their regular full‐time job,” says Simon.

With this commitment Shebeen has evolved from a simple idea to the real thing – well, almost! Reality for Shebeen is just around the corner with the team currently seeking start‐up funding from a consortium of philanthropic social investors to launch later this year. The key attraction is that a contribution to Shebeen works more than once; Shebeen’s business structure allows philanthropic investors to achieve a three to five times social‐return‐on‐investment over three years. It is expected that a $250,000 investment will see $500,000‐$800,000 flow to development aid partners over the first three years of operation.

“To my mind, social entrepreneurship is a smarter way to make a difference in the world and a better way to approach running a business,” Simon added.

If you would like to get involved with Shebeen, please email: meow@shebeen.com.au

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