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Ethical Business Models: BOGO

Ethical products are more popular than ever but there’s one business model that takes this idea a step further. You may be familiar with the buy one get one free (BOGOF) offers that you see in supermarkets but the internet is now home to a wealth of BOGO (buy one, give one) businesses. BOGO (sometimes known as one-for-one giving) sees businesses donate one product for every one sold.

Head of Programme and Student Experience of The University of Law Business School, Elizabeth Shaw said: "With increased public awareness of how businesses are run and the negative impact they can have on individuals and the environment, it’s a natural progression that ethical companies would want to counteract this and be seen as 'giving back'. These companies not only have the ability to make a positive impact but allow their customers to feel as if they are having a positive impact on the world via their purchasing preferences."

Today we take a look at some of the top BOGO businesses and how their products are changing lives.


Bombas is an American based company founded in 2013 by Randy Goldberg and David Heath after seeing a Facebook post requesting donations of socks at homeless shelters. Five years later Bombas has donated over 9 million pairs of socks to 1,200 giving partners across 50 states. The socks go to shelters, community organisations, and large partners like The U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and The Special Olympics.

Bombas have invested in developing a sock specifically for donating. They engineered socks unique to people who wouldn’t be able to change or clean them daily. An anti-microbial treatment means they don’t require washing as often, darker colours are used and reinforced seams are used to give them greater durability.


In 2006, pioneer of the BOGO business model, Blake Mycoskie visited a village in Argentina to discover the children had no shoes to protect their feet. To help alleviate the problem he launched TOMS, a company dedicated to matching every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes to a child in need.

Blake Mycoskie said "I was so overwhelmed by the spirit of the South American people, especially those who had so little, and I was instantly struck with the desire — the responsibility — to do more."

So far they’ve given away over 60 million pairs of shoes in over 70 countries. However, Blake didn’t stop there, he expanded into other markets to raise funds for various causes. Every TOMS Eyewear purchase helps restore sight to an individual through surgery, glasses or medical treatment; TOMS Roasting Co. buys safe water support systems in the same seven regions where the coffee beans are sourced; and purchases of TOMS Bags provide vital support and materials to women and babies during childbirth.

Hey Girls

Hey Girls is a company created not only to provide leak free, comfortable, chlorine and bleach free, environmentally friendly menstrual products but to also tackle period poverty here in the UK. For every box of products sold, they give one box away.

Celia Hodson, Founder of Hey Girls, said: “One in ten girls in the UK can’t afford sanitary protection – the thought of having to fashion a pad by scrunching up paper or socks and putting it in your underwear instead of wearing a suitable product is an awful one.

“People think that this is something that only happens elsewhere in the world, but it’s also happening right here on our doorstep, in the UK. It’s a shocking thought, but it’s happening.”


Brooklyn based husband and wife team, Scot and Jacq Tatelman founded State after seeing countless children carrying their belongings to school in rubbish bags. The company promises to ‘not only deliver much needed supplies, but to also provide youth with the tools to reach their fullest potential and better their communities.’

The bags are donated to children across the United States living in communities in high need, such as Flint, Michigan. While many BOGO companies concentrate on third world countries, Jacq and Scot specifically wanted to make a difference in their home country after witnessing the need for themselves.

Warby Parker

Warby Parker’s Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program has seen the company distribute over 4 million pairs of glasses to over 50 countries worldwide. They estimate that 2.5 billion people around the world need glasses but don’t have access to them, 624 million being unable to effectively learn or work due to their eyesight.

As well as providing much needed eyewear they also empower men and women by training them to administer basic eye tests and sell glasses at ultra-affordable prices. The World Health Organisation calculated that one pair of glasses in the developing world increases an individual’s productivity by 35% and their monthly income by 20%, this highlights just how much of an impact Warby Parker’s initiative can have on people’s lives.

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