How Belu is addressing the water crisis whilst promoting sustainability in the hospitality sector

In this #MeetTheMB100 interview, Charlotte Harrington, Co-CEO of Belu, discusses how their business model and impactful partnerships with nature-based organisations, as well as the hospitality sector is creating industry-wide systems change, across multiple UN SDGs.

This interview series is sponsored by EY, Hogan Lovells and Babson College.

Meaningful Business (MB): Can you tell us a bit about the issues you are trying to solve and why you selected them?


Charlotte Harrington (CH): Belu started with a simple idea – that through doing business you can help solve some of the world’s problems. We happen to be in water but in theory our business model could be applied to any product or service and we want to inspire other businesses to do more themselves. 


Our purpose is to change the way the world sees water. To date our most significant impact has been delivered through our partnership with WaterAid who receive 100% of our net profits on an unrestricted basis to enable them to provide clean water, decent toilets and sanitation to communities worldwide. We chose this focus because access to clean water is a fundamental human right, yet millions around the world lack it. This will result in improved health, higher education levels and more economic opportunities, aligning with the United Nations SDGs 6, 12, 13, 14 and 17. Together we are addressing the global water crisis whilst promoting sustainability in the hospitality industry.



Charlotte Harrington, Co-CEO, Belu


MB: How is your work tackling those problems and what impact are you having?


CH: We offer sustainable water filtration systems to the hospitality and workplace sector, as well as our heritage mineral water range in the lightest weight UK made glass. By giving all our net profits to WaterAid, we ensure that every purchase of Belu contributes to positive change. Since 2011, we’ve given £5.8m to WaterAid and transformed 391,944 lives.



MB: What support do you need in order to scale your business and increase your positive impact?


CH: We need broader brand awareness, especially in the corporate sector where we know facilities managers and procurement teams are being tasked with diversifying their supplier bases. We need them to know we can replace their incumbent filtration suppliers and deliver a best in class customer experience as we pride ourselves on our service levels, alongside our bottled drinks range which we are better known for. We are also always looking for partnerships with like-minded organisations as we know these are a crucial way for us to expand and to deliver more profit for our purpose.


MB: How do you work with partners and the wider ecosystem to achieve your mission?


CH: We engage with suppliers, customers, impact partners and other social enterprises to share our learnings and demonstrate what’s possible. For example, we publish full audited accounts and an annual impact report which includes our purpose P&L which we hope will inspire other businesses to do business differently.


MB: What is your ambition for the future of your business?


CH: Our ambition is to scale Belu in the UK but also in global cities across the world.  We’ll continue to set the standard when it comes to environmental stewardship and creating impactful partnerships with nature-based organisations and hospitality networks to inspire industry wide systems change and demonstrate that businesses can ‘do good’ in the world.


MB: How do you measure success?


CH: We measure success using our trademarked Purpose P&L, which measures our financial performance and the tangible difference we make to people’s lives with our WaterAid partnership and our impact investments in nature based projects. Key metrics include our net profits to WaterAid, reductions in carbon emissions and customer engagement with our purpose.





Quickfire questions:


MB: Tell us a mistake you’ve learned from


CH: That being the CEO (or Co-CEO in my case) means you must have all the answers. Deep listening, asking the right questions and embracing a diverse range of opinions is the only way we are going to solve the problems the world is facing, which is why Team Belu is so important to me.


MB: How do you spend your time away from work? 


CH: Mostly as a taxi driver for my three kids. But I’m happiest outside in the countryside walking our dog, by the sea or in the mountains.


MB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 


CH: Trust your gut instinct.


MB: What is something you wish you were better at? 


CH: Walking into a room full of strangers and feeling at home networking.


MB: What is the one book everyone should read?


CH: Net Positive – How courageous companies thrive by giving more than they take by Paul Polman and Andrew Winston.



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