Trying to shop sustainably can be a minefield. Trying to avoid palm oil, buy organic, free range, sustainably sourced isn’t an easy task.
Husband and wife duo James and Jo Hand, decided to do something about it, and set up Giki Enterprise in 2017.
“We wanted to help people reduce the environmental impact of their food, whilst making it easy to find products which are healthier too,” explains Jo. “We started our social enterprise because we believe that human impact on the planet is too great and we need to reduce it. We know many millions of people want to behave in a way that is not destructive to the environment and we want to help them do this.”
Giki, which stands for Get Informed, Know your Impact, is a free mobile app that scores more than 280,000 products in the supermarkets, based on 13 areas, including: carbon footprint; sustainable palm oil; responsible sourcing; organic; healthier options and recycling.
“From a personal perspective, James is fascinated by the patterns in data and the stories they can tell. The answers to most of the sustainability questions we have can be found somewhere. It is like a jigsaw and his aim is to pull the pieces from wherever he can find them and fit them together to get the full picture.”
Consumers can download the app, scan a barcode, and see which “badges” have been awarded to the product – everything from cleaning products to food.
Jo says there has already been high demand for the app, with 84% of the 10,000 users on the platform changing their shopping behavior as a result of using Giki.
“We constantly talk to our users and the message we get is consistent: people want to buy healthier, natural, sustainable products and explicitly do not want to buy from companies they don’t trust, or which are embroiled in negative publicity.”
Jo adds that although the sustainability industry is a competitive one, Giki stands out because it provides “clear, tangible action that is part of an everyday shopping experience”.
“So far, we’ve not found anyone who provides the same solution anywhere in the world but if we do, we’ll always want to work together.”
The company was funded by philanthropic donations and social impact investment, raising £150,000 ($190,000) and £300,000 ($380,000) through those avenues respectively.
“After just over a year operating, we have now built the foundations to help people reduce their impact in a range of different ways, which are both empowering and liberating,” Jo adds.
But there were the usual challenges of publicity without a marketing budget, and building a complex data system.
“Our users want us to cover lots of issues and often in great depth,” Jo explains. “Building the data library to ensure we can provide the insights people want and distilling this complex, often messy information, into actionable, simple to use information to help support behavior change is a constant challenge.
“It must be simple but never simplistic.”
The couple employ four people, and is supported by a “committed group” of 20 advisors and volunteers. Giki is already off to a strong start, but the pair have ambitious goals.
“We want to help our users halve the impact of their food and drink by 2025, and enable people to see products through a different lens, and understand the impacts they have on us and the environment.”