Off the back of 70 percent growth last year, Relate Bracelets CEO Neil Robinson has called for every working South African to dig deep and buy a bracelet. In February of this year alone, it raised over 1.2 million rand.
The not for profit organisation (NPO) seeks to change lives through its innovative and all-encompassing business model; from manufacturing to marketing the bracelets, the company seeks to provide opportunities for all involved.
The company employs disadvantaged people, giving them the opportunity to earn their own money and learn important skills; corporate sponsors also benefit through gaining brand exposure.
In five years the company has raised a total of just over 25.5 million rand through the sale of over 1.6 million bracelets, for a variety of charities which include conservation, health and empowerment, amongst many others.
Neil Robinson, Relate Bracelets CEO, asked: “What if every employed South African spent just R35 on one bracelet each year?”
He added: “That would mean close to a quarter of a billion Rand towards these causes annually, with this easy to do, small spend impacting on our country in a big way. It could result in a big dent in our country’s problems.”
Relate Bracelets founder Lauren Gillis said: “What’s clear is that charities, vendors and consumers have formed a clear understanding about our model’s transparency and success. They understand that not a single cent of the money made from the bracelets is for private gain by any individual or organisation.”
She added: “We are totally pedantic about our transparency as there is so much scepticism in the Non Profit world. We essentially act like a Public Listed company in that our numbers are open for viewing.”
Since Nandos was the first large company to see the potential in the venture, Relate is donating 500,000 rand to help Nandos achieve its own enterprise development goals.
Gillis attributed this high level of growth over the past year to the organisation’s appointment of Neil Robinson as Chief Executive officer, who was mandated to run the not-for-profit organisation as a corporate entity.
A portion of the money goes towards Relate’s own social initiatives, whilst the rest is divided between supplying materials and the charities that use the bracelets to raise funds for their work. Part of Relate’s own social programme includes skills development training for their young adult staff as well as investing in Enterprise Development projects with fledgling black businesses.
Relate Bracelets has a range of retail partnerships with big South African brands such as Woolworths, TFG, Protea Hotels group, Clicks, Sorbet and Tourvest, amongst many others. With an almost unheard of rate of growth, Relate’s model proves co-founder Glen Gillis’ vision to be true: “Bottom-line capitalism and ‘poor me’ NGOs can meet in a new business model.”
This article was originally published in African Business Review.