“Social impact is something that every single person should be trying to work towards” with Kay Nag & Eller Everett

Eller: Social impact is something that every single person should be trying to work towards. It is the responsibility of everyone to look after our people and planet. We should always consider our future generations in everything we do. What kind of world do we want for our children?Kay: We all are angry/irritated about something which is […]

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Eller: Social impact is something that every single person should be trying to work towards. It is the responsibility of everyone to look after our people and planet. We should always consider our future generations in everything we do. What kind of world do we want for our children?

Kay: We all are angry/irritated about something which is happening around us which is related to society, all young people need to do is turn that anger into a productive resource of building something which will help not only them but also others.

Aspart of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kay and Eller from BothOfUs

Kay is the co-founder of BøthOfUs AB. He was born in a family living on less than $5/day in India, he became an engineer and a social activist. He has lived in 8 countries, from a skyscraper in the Dubai Marina to a timber frame house in Sweden. He is particularly passionate about child safety. With BøthOfUs he wants to create opportunities for people who come from similar circumstances. His life goal is to support excluded or lonely people to feel confident and included and to make sure that social injustices against children are reduced.

Eller is the co-founder of BothOfUs UK. She has been working in social impact for the last 8 years. She was brought up on an organic and permaculture farm and now talks about the role of permaculture in accelerating the SDGs. She started volunteering with social impact projects at the age of 18 and has travelled across the world working in sustainable and social impact projects.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?

Eller: I was brought up by very open minded and compassionate parents. My dad is a permaculture teacher and my mum is a human rights activist. They taught me the importance of understanding what is going on in the world and other people, not just what was going on in my little bubble. When I was at University I started volunteering in anything I could find; The Redcross, Disability football teams, different associations and when I was 19 I did my first solo. I went to Malawi to work in a children’s home when I was 20. The experience made me realise I didn’t just want to go and support this community for a month and leave but actually wanted to support them for the future. I started to teach the foster mothers how to build solar cookers so they didn’t need to buy fuel and use gas. As soon as I arrived back to the UK I started planning a fundraiser for the charity, I managed to raise 1500.

Kay: I was born in a slum in south India, survival was always a great luxury on those days. My dad later became a bank manager so he made sure me and my sister got educated well. I became an engineer in information technology which helped me support myself in Dubai (the place where I was brought up)
Became an activist for child safety because of my own first hand experiences, later became a nomad travelling around the EU, finally settled in Sweden to start BøthOfUs AB.

You are currently leading a social impact organization. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

BøthOfUs is a social impact startup working to bring positive social and environmental change. We work to bring about positive social and environmental change by supporting social impact projects using the competence of technology, design and illustration. We will only work with social impact projects and those working towards the SGDs. We aim to be the big sister in bringing social impact companies together. Our mission is to empower social entrepreneurs to make a difference.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

BøthOfUs was started in 2017 by friends who decided to work only on social impact projects using the competency of Tech, Design and Illustration. The cause of the company starts from the personal story of being a victim and the desire to do something about it to stop social injustice. We observed that people with brilliant ideas on social impact lack funding in initial stages and the majority of the cost goes to creating tools and design, that’s exactly where BøthOfUs comes in.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

Eller: For me there was never really an ‘Aha moment’ but it was something I knew that I had to dedicate my life to. I knew I would never be satisfied and content with my work unless it helped people and/or the environment. I have spent the last 8 years of my life working towards a future in social impact, volunteering across the work for many different projects. I knew I would keep going until I got there. The trigger moment was actually from someone else, Kay, who took a leap of faith in me. It was him that gave me the chance to prove myself and really dedicate myself to social impact.

Kay: Two incidents changed our speed
1) Unauthorized Borewells is a big issue in many developing countries, one evening there was a news coverage on a 2 year old kid who fell into an unauthorized borewell, during the time of recovery the mother of child was crying saying, “use whatever technology or people you can to help save my kid” I could not make the mother happy but I decided since then if technology can be used, then it should make sure to help common citizens.

2) A young adult girl traveled to a developing country, with a lot of hope, happy and excited on her first international trip as an independent girl, she was mistreated and authorities instead of helping her mocked her. We created an app for girls safety. Since then we decided technology or design are not only for us to collaborate with big companies but to help common citizens.

Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

Eller: For me it was making connections and being curious. I believe that if you really care and believe about what you are doing then things will happen. Every person I talk to I love what they are doing, I could spend hours talking to people about their projects and just from these connections comes interest in our work.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Kay: We were going through a great economic depression in the company in mid 2019’s, we got a huge deal to create a technology solution for a gambling company, we had the option to take that contract to save the company or stay to our values and say no to stay poor.
We decided to take a bold step on staying with our values, we are still poor but proud.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?

Eller: I will always try to do everything at once, and I often have difficulty in saying no. I am also obsessed with learning new things and if there is a conference going on I can’t miss it. This has led me to having multiple calls at once and last week I was attending two conferences at the same time whilst also working, I have been described as frantic more than once.

Kay: I was in a social networking event one evening, so people started introducing each other in mingle sessions, so I started speaking to another girl in the event. I introduced myself as a guy working on social impact using tech and design, without saying the company name. She then started explaining me that “Ohh that’s interesting, may be you guys need to check this company called BøthOfUs, they are company in Stockholm working on something similar as well and quite good”
I never said to her that I am founder of the company that evening, the lesson I learned from that evening, I am not doing a bad job or I need not be so humble in marketing myself as people like the company

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

Eller: My heroes will always be my parents. From day one they have supported me even when I decide to disappear to the other side of the world on my own hitchhiking to a place I have no idea. They are also incredibly inspiring, from watching them I knew I had to have a future in social impact. Kay has also been a massive influence to me. He is an incredible, inspiring leader that will do anything to support people. Not only is he so compassionate that the whole team loves him but he is innovative, coming up with the most amazing social impact ideas.

Kay: I have gone through personal coaching on leadership so my learning from my personal coach are always helpful however when it comes to inspiration I would say my biggest inspiration is the an average hard working middle class person who works so hard and helps society, the hard work and contribution they do to any society is the core fuel of the society.
Whenever I develop or design anything from the company, I always make sure, how will a common man/woman use that and how will they get benefit out of it.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

Kay: There are many individuals who helped during the time.
My co-founder Emily Ryan is a great person and she is a lovely shoulder when I am going through a difficult stage in life. I have been a big fan of her illustration work. Without her I wouldn’t be able to run this company to this stage.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Eller:

  1. Supporting each other! Everyone is trying to reach the same goal — moving to a better, more positive world to live in. The more people doing this the more of an impact we can make.
  2. Push for policy changes that negatively affect society and the environment.
  3. If you are not a leader be a follower. The first person to follow is the person that can create a movement and make an idea into something incredible.

Kay:

  1. Not only talk the talk but also walk the walk — doing small contributions is a contribution.
  2. Politicians are doing the best they can in some EU countries, however without community or individual help it is so hard to achieve collective results.
  3. Society is a collective individual so if everyone understands that and reflects in action it will be lovely.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Kay:
Joke about it and move on
Discrimination is unavoidable
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, you will be seen as you are, I started with big dreams that if people are doing good then people will be good and I will be treated fair but that didn’t happen. Still there is a difference in the way someone is treated based on how someone looks. I discussed this with fellow entrepreneurs and came to know that we need to joke about this and move on.

The world is so big
Do not give up after a few failures, the world is big.
I had trouble in getting into local market here, so I was almost giving up then I made a trip back to UK, where I was well received for what I do, so the key lesson I learned is if failure happens change your factors

Never ever give up, angels are real in the name of luck.
I learned in business, all I need to do is not give up and be persistent, it usually works.

Family is important
At the end of day, the only person who will understand us is friends and family, being an entrepreneurs means working 14 to 15 hours a days during this process an entrepreneur gets far away from their girlfriend or child, I did the same but later realized it is so important to understand they are human being and would like to have some attention, I realized that only when I wanted them. I hope someone told me this before I started business.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Eller: Social impact is something that every single person should be trying to work towards. It is the responsibility of everyone to look after our people and planet. We should always consider our future generations in everything we do. What kind of world do we want for our children?

Kay: We all are angry/irritated about something which is happening around us which is related to society, all young people need to do is turn that anger into a productive resource of building something which will help not only them but also others.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Eller: Choosing one is too hard. For me my heroes are: Greta Thunberg, Ellen Macarthur and Jenine Benyas, they are all incredible women that have made a massive impact on the future of our planet and society.

Kay: Martin Luther King Jr & Gandhi, I think they both would enjoy having breakfast with each other as well, I will just let them talk to each other and listen to them.
I am sure King would love that.

How can our readers follow you online?

https://www.instagram.com/wearebothofus/

https://www.facebook.com/wearebothofus

https://www.linkedin.com/company/bothofus/

https://www.behance.net/bothofus

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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