Vendor Spotlight: Elephant Branded

“The idea of Elephant Branded is like The Big Issue in that it is run like business, not a charity, and shows that business can be a force for good.”

That’s the view of James Munro Boon, co-founder of Elephant Branded – a social enterprise that make bags, laptop cases and wallets out of recyclable materials to make a difference.

For every one sold, a child in Cambodia gets a school bag to help them with their studies.

“The idea of Elephant Branded is like The Big Issue in that it is run like a business, not a charity, and shows that business can be a force for good.”

That’s the view of James Munro Boon, co-founder of Elephant Branded – a social enterprise that make bags, laptop cases and wallets out of recyclable materials to make a difference.

For every one sold, a child in Cambodia gets a school bag to help them with their studies.

“To be honest, that’s the only reason I do it,” he says. “I go out there every three or four months and that has been since uni when I was spending all my student loan on flights out there every five or six months.

“I’ve seen kids growing up and have their own children thanks to the work we do. I love spending time there and I think that the really valuable thing is where we support people to run their own business and build their own lives.”

While Elephant Branded faces a constant battle to find new recyclable materials – with a struggle to find a waste material available in high volume that doesn’t vary in quality and consistency – it is constantly attempting to innovate with new products on the way.

But the original three ranges of products are available in The Big Issue Shop.

“As well as the exposure, I think working with The Big Issue adds a degree of credibility,” says James.

“Just like how it is wrong for me to Cambodia and tell people what to do and how to run their business, The Big Issue gives vendors a chance to work their way out of poverty.

“And I think that people who buy The Big Issue have the same ethos and concerns as we do. I’ve met a family in Cambodia that I would never have had a chance to meet and that’s where I see the synergy with The Big Issue.”

Vendor Spotlight: Elephant Branded

Vendor Spotlight: Elephant Branded

Elephant Branded has a simple premise – buy one ethically made, recycled bag or related product and they give one ergonomically designed school bag and kit to a child in Africa or Asia. Founded by James, Mey and Pry, Elephant Branded pays a fair, competitive wage to local villagers who then make bags out of locally sourced, recycled materials. Not only do they get a reasonable wage but they also have the opportunity to learn valuable skills that permit them to have a sustainable, effective way to get out of poverty.

One of the founders, James, explained the beginnings of the company – “Mey’s family had previously made bags out of silk in Phnom Penh so she taught Pry how to do it, and then after experimenting with old cartons and bags, Pry came across an old cement bag lying on the floor and thought “You know what, we could make a bag out of that!”