Today we're interviewing Matthew Clough, the founder of Benson Backpacks, a line of denim school bags that help children in Tanzania gain access to education. In the answers below, Matthew talks about his social business model, and how the simple $10 donation from each bag has the power to transform lives. He also talks about the power of silence and how he integrates time for that peace every day.
For more backgrounder on Benson Backpacks as a company, see the social business profile we featured recently. To learn more about its founder, read on below.
4 Questions with Matthew Clough, Founder of Benson Backpacks
1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
The idea for Benson Backpacks came from my experience descending from the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I learned that my friendly, hardworking porter named Benson only earns between $1-2 per day -- not enough to put a child through school.
Arriving home, I designed a product that represents education and my climb to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We carry backpacks for school and a rucksack to climb, so creating a mountain-inspired bag to tie the two together seemed like the natural solution. The result is the first ever Benson Backpack. Each purchase of a Benson Backpack supports a child’s education in Tanzania, Africa.
2. How did you decide to join this sector?
When I returned from Tanzania and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, I'd had an epiphany. It opened up my eyes to how nice it was to have access to clean drinking water, food on the table and a decent education. At that point, I wasn't sure what to do, but knew I had to do something. I just started taking action, and eventually ended up where I am today.
3. How do you get your inspiration?
A lot of my inspiration comes from traveling, whether it be discovering a new place in Los Angeles, or taking off to a different part of the world. Diving into a different culture and seeing other places around the world is fascinating and always gives me a fresh perspective. Whenever I get back from a trip, or see something new, I always come away with one idea that I end up executing at some point.
4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
I need silence to reset myself. It's really important that I get enough time to think every day, otherwise I get really antsy, and have a difficult time focusing on my work. I've learned the best time to get the silence I need is really early in the morning. Waking up early and drinking green tea has become a ritual.
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