UEA students’ business donates rucksack full of school supplies for every purchase
Two student entrepreneurs are aiming to make a direct different for children in Cameroon, after they identified a possible issue with charitable giving.
Nick Hartshorn and Fabio Falter , who both study at UEA, felt making a purchase that included a charitable donation came with an element of doubt about how much the recipient receives.
Mr Hartshorn, a PE student, said: “Like many people, we’ve made ethical purchases and wondered how much of our money actually went to the charity concerned. And as part of his International Development degree, my co-founder Fabio visited Cameroon, where he volunteered in the Self Reliance School for orphaned and vulnerable children and saw that many of the pupils, aged eight to 21, had no basic educational equipment.
“On his return, we came up with the idea of selling T-shirts and donating a rucksack filled with stationery for every purchase made rather than cash. That way, our customers know that they’re making a direct difference with every T-shirt that they buy.”
The businessmen received the support of UEA’s Student Enterprise team in establishing their company, Theta Alpha Sigma.
“They helped us to produce a business plan and a brand as well as providing initial funding of £500 to enable us to buy stock and develop our website, thetaalphasigma.co.uk, which launched in December,” said Mr Hartshorn.
Each long-sleeved T-shirt also saves 7kg of greenhouse gases in its manufacturing compared with standard production and all items are made in accordance with the Fair Wear Foundation, guaranteeing fair wages and a safe and healthy working environment.
“So far, our customers have mostly been fellow students who like our product and want to support the cause, but we’re hoping that the launch of our website means that we can widen that base and help more children in more schools,” said Mr Hartshorn. “It’s very rewarding to make such a direct impact.”
Finbarr Carter, UEA’s enterprise development officer, added: “Fabio and Nick saw a need and used their initiative to fulfil it, so we were delighted to support them. It’s an inspiring example of how students can make a difference through enterprise.”