2013-04-19

At The World's First Nonprofit Bar, It's Good To Drink A Lot

Melbourne’s Shebeen serves beer made in the developing world, and then donates a percentage to aid organizations, so don’t feel bad ordering another one.

This Australian bar offers an intoxicating cocktail: All the beer, wine, and cider you want, and the satisfaction of helping others, too.

Shebeen is a new watering hole in Melbourne that sells 25 brands from 10 countries. There’s Dashen beer from Ethiopia. Windhoek Lager, from Namibia. And Boschendal Chenin Blanc, from South Africa. All profits go to seven nonprofits, including AIDS group Mothers2mothers, eyeglass charity Vision Spring, in India, and San Francisco-based Room To Read.

Simon Griffiths, Shebeen’s founder and the entrepreneur behind the buy-one-get-one toilet paper Who Gives A Crap, says its been going strong its first eight weeks. "The bar has been really popular which means that we’re already profitable, but constantly facing supply problems. We have drunk Australia out of its Ethiopian, Kenyan, and Laotian beers."

"Shebeen" originally meant an illegal Irish bar, but more recently, the term has been adopted in South Africa and Zimbabwe. During apartheid, activists used to meet at shacks with corrugated iron roofs. Melbourne’s Shebeen has the look of the same.

Griffiths got the idea from a college friend called Zanna McComish. "As a 20-something year old, I fell in love with the concept of doing something good whilst doing something that I loved—going to a bar. We worked on the business plan together, before Zanna moved overseas. Then I took it on as my own."

Griffiths reckons he can send more than $200,000 to good causes in his first year, and $800,000 over three. And, after Melbourne, he hopes to open bars other places, too.

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