University of Melbourne Magazine

Rising star

  • Simon Griffiths is the founder of Shebeen, Who Gives a Crap and Ripple, three social enterprises that aim to alleviate global poverty through consumer-driven philanthropy.

    After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in 2007, Simon turned down his dream job at a management consultancy and set up his first social business,, a click-to-give and search-to-give website that donates 100 per cent of its revenue to development aid organisations. Ripple was named #23 in BRW’s top 100 web 2.0 sites of 2003 and has received over six million visitors to date.

    Since then Simon has spent time working in development aid in South Africa and visited various NGOs in eight sub-Saharan nations. He recognised a universal problem with each organisation – insufficient funding – and was determined to revolutionise the way society approaches philanthropy.

    Upon returning to Melbourne, Simon started Shebeen and Who Gives a Crap. Inspired by makeshift bars in South Africa, Shebeen is a restaurant and bar that sells exotic beers and wines from the development world with 100 per cent of the profit from each sale supporting projects in each drink’s country of origin. Instead of conventional capital-raising, Simon and his business partners sought the support of social investors and product partners, including Schweppes and hospitality equipment funder SilverChef, while promising no returns for investors. Thanks to publicity generated by the media and two years of hard work, Shebeen secured $250,000 in funding and opened its doors in early 2013.

    After learning that 2.5 billion people across the world do not have access to a toilet and that diarrhea-related diseases fill over half of sub-Saharan African hospital beds, killing 2,000 children under five each day, Simon and his business partners launched Who Gives a Crap, a toilet paper company that uses half of its profits to build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. Simon turned to crowdfunding via the internet to generate capital. His push for donations involved livestreaming himself sitting on a toilet with his laptop until the company raised $50,000. Who Gives a Crap was launched 51 hours later, and the company delivered its first product in March 2013.

    In 2010, Simon became Australia’s first Fellow of the Unreasonable Institute. In 2011, he was recognised by The Age‘s Melbourne Magazine as one of Melbourne’s Top 100 Most Influential People, and in 2013, he was shortlised for Young Australian of the Year. 

    Simon was awarded the Rising Star Award for Young Alumni for the Faculty of Business and Economics Alumni of Distinction Awards. These awards celebrate and honour graduates who have made an outstanding contribution to their professions and communities. 

    Do you know an alumnus who is distinguished in their field and whose success story will help to encourage and inspire others? The Faculty of Business and Economics is currently seeking nominations for the prestigious Alumni of Distinction Awards. The awards acknowledge the various stages of the path to forging a successful career and seek to recognise the impact that outstanding individuals are making. You can help identify and celebrate a rising star or a veteran in business by bringing them to the attention of our alumni community. You can nominate a fellow alumnus or share your own success story through the self-nomination process. Visit the Alumni of Distinction Awards Program website for more information about nominations, award categories and the selection process. We look forward to hearing from you!