Meet Giki’s Co-founder: Your Sustainable Shopping Companion
Tue, 05 Mar 2019 by Liz Rosling
Giki is a social enterprise on a mission to make sustainable consumption easy. They do this by providing easy to understand information to consumers on environmental, social and health issues. This allows them to make informed choices about the products they buy and the companies they buy from. Their information is openly available to other organisations whose goal is to encourage more sustainable behaviours.
The social enterprise was founded in 2017 by husband and wife, James and Jo Hand, on the realisation that people were struggling to find products in supermarkets aligned with their own ethics and values.
Giki provide sustainability information on over 280,000 UK supermarket products. Their information covers 13 areas including:
- Carbon footprint
- Sustainable palm oil
- Responsible sourcing
- Chemicals of concern
- UK made
- Animal welfare
- Animal testing
- Greener cosmetics
- Kinder cleaning
This information is delivered through their free mobile app, their comprehensive supermarket product dataset is analyst with a series of algorithms that rates products in near real time. This covers both branded and own label goods including Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons, Coop, Asda and Sainsbury’s.
As part of our #WomenInSMEs campaign we interviewed the amazing co-founder Jo Hand on what inspired her and her husband to found their genius social enterprise.
1. Hi Jo, to kick things off – please tell us why you started your business, and a bit about your journey so far?
The idea for Giki came in 2016 when my husband and I were thinking about why so many people were concerned about the environment but struggling to work out what to do about it. At the same time people were taking a much greater interest in what was in their food and cosmetics as well as what was happening to the people who made it. In short, were they buying in line with their beliefs? The answer was clear – no they weren’t, because it’s really difficult! But an increasing number of people wanted to do something about it. The problem was the amount of information that everyone needs to wade through was simply too great and, in the end, this meant many often did nothing.
The solution was simple: come up with an accessible, quick and clear way for people to pick up a product and know whether buying it was in line with their values and beliefs.
After building a prototype Giki’s free app was launched in May 2018 allowing users to scan a barcode and, for the first time, select mainstream products based on the environmental, health and ethical issues they care about.
2. It sounds like you’ve created an app that’s so important! What have been some of your successes to date?
I would say launching the prototype and proving that it was possible was a real high – and when we got good feedback, we felt then that it was possible, that we’d got to first base. Once we launched the app publicly in May 2018, we got some great national press coverage in The Times and the Mail and we realised that these were issues that people really wanted to learn more about.
In Autumn last year, we launched the world’s first palm oil detector – you simply scan the barcode and find out if a product contains palm oil and whether its sustainable. This coincided with the ban of the Iceland palm oil advert and it was great to see that we were providing people with something they really wanted – to simply and easily work out if the products they buy contain palm oil and whether its sustainable.
We have also developed relationships with WWF, Oxfam, Breast Cancer UK, Soil Association and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and it is great to work with such excellent organisations with a common goal.
3. Wow! That is seriously impressive. What would be your biggest piece of advice to female entrepreneurs just starting out in business?
Celebrate your successes! There will be plenty of challenging times. I also celebrate the fact that now is such a great time to be a female entrepreneur. Our culture has moved on so much in the last 10-20 years for women. The main challenge is juggling family life, but the flexibility of running your own company helps with that. Being a female entrepreneur also creates a great role model for children and mine love using Giki to scan in the supermarket, it keeps them busy for hours, so that is another added bonus!
4. Great advice, thanks Jo! Can you tell us why were you drawn to the campaign, and offer a comment on why you think it’s important?
Because celebrating female entrepreneurship is important. It can be harder for a woman because of family commitments and gaps in work due to having children can also affect confidence which makes it tougher. I always feel a camaraderie with other women in a similar position. It is by sharing the successes and challenges that we will see more female entrepreneurs in the future.
About Liz Rosling
Liz is a business finance specialist, responsible for publishing relevant industry insight for SME Loans. Also an author at StartUp Mindset, Liz uses her years of experience in the financial services sector, to equip small business owners with the guidance and expertise they need to realise their full potential. Stay up to date with Liz through LinkedIn and Twitter. You can drop her an email at email@example.com.