Can a bottle of water help feed the world? Kori Chilibeck and Matt Moreau hope it can. Through their Edmonton-based company, Earth Group, they sell bottled water, tea and coffee in North America and Europe. Earth Group donates 100 per cent of its net profits to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), an organization that gives food aid and relief assistance to people in need around the world.
Earth Water was founded in 2005 and has donated its net profits exclusively to WFP for the past three years. During that time, it has donated hundreds of thousands of meals through WFP. It recently reached the milestone of one million donated meals. “It’s fantastic. But we really feel like we’re just scratching the surface here,” says Moreau, 27, adding that he wants to get to the point where Earth Group is donating a million meals annually.
Chilibeck, 34, was inspired to start Earth Group soon after graduating from university. He was doing a base climb of Mount Everest, when he met an elderly man with no shoes, who was carrying a backpack of Coca-Cola up a mountain for only pennies a day. The realization that huge corporations sometimes profit off impoverished people had a huge impact on Chilibeck, says his friend and business partner, Moreau. Chilibeck, an Avenue Top 40 Under 40 alumnus, realized he wanted to start a company that would be good to its employees and give back to those in need.
When they first started Earth Group, Moreau and Chilibeck walked up and down Jasper and Whyte avenues selling water out of their backpacks. Now, Earth Group products are sold in 12 countries around the world. The natural spring water is bottled as close to each market as possible, cutting down on its carbon footprint and shipping costs.
Earth Group also sells tea and certified organic coffee. It works with a roaster in Vancouver, who sources beans from around the world. Eventually, Moreau would like to launch a mobile coffee shop in Edmonton. The company is clearly intent on expanding – it plans on launching a clothing line that makes clothes from recycled plastic bottles, and it recently opened its own caf and office in Seoul, South Korea. “We’re trying to create a really simple way for people to give back,” says Moreau.
While every bottle of water or bag of coffee purchased makes a difference, Earth Group is trying to expand its reach by working with larger catering companies, as well. It landed a contract with Brookwood Camps & Catering, a company that does a lot of catering at camps in Fort McMurray, two years ago. “Their decision to work with us has tremendously impacted the amount of meals and education we’re able to provide children with annually,” says Moreau. “Their decision to purchase our product rather than purchasing from mainstream beverage companies is literally impacting thousands of children and bettering communities globally.”