Today I have the pleasure of posting an interview done with Dave Spandorfer, who co-founded Janji and continues to seek ways for the company to grow and complete its promise of using running to help solve the global water crisis:
1) What made you and Mike (co-founder) want to tackle the lack of accessibility to water in international countries? Other than running, what in your background has made you passionate about this mission?
Mike and I first came up with the idea for Janji at the Division III Track Championship. We were running the 10k against the best runners we had ever faced... all on a 95 degree day. It took every ounce of energy, drive, and determination to just finish the 25 lap and we got water on both sides of the track.
Throughout the bulk of the season we had discussed ways to give back through running, a sport that had given us a sense of community and purpose ever since we started. After this oppressively hot race, we came up with the idea of giving clean water not through a running race, but through an apparel brand. That way, runners could give back every time they bought gear and raise awareness every time they ran. We applied for a business plan competition, won the business competition (and $20,000), and soon after, we launched Janji.
2) How do you select the countries that will be represented by clothing lines?
Selecting countries is always difficult. But we came up with a list of 3 criteria to help select the countries.
3) How are customers assured that a portion of sale proceeds go to help provide water?
This is a great question. For one, we have a clear and transparent model: for every item bought, 10% of the sale goes back toward clean water issues. When a runner buys an $88 Tanzania windbreaker for instance, we give $8.8 to our Tanzania partner MSABI. While there are questionable nonprofits working in the clean water space, we work with four carefully chosen clean water organizations that a) are famous for their efficiency for every dollar donated; b) work with local communities to ensure that there is a foundational need for the clean water project; and c) have designed creative ways to not just provide build clean water solutions, but maintain clean water solutions. As their annual reports and ground level work highlights, these organizations do things the right way with every dollar given to them. Much of their resources come directly from the Janji community.
4) What is the measurable effect you have had on countries and water (i.e., dollar amount, # of years, # of wells/villages)?
We’re fortunate to have given over 35,000 years of clean water to different countries and communities around the world through the construction--and maintenance--of 11 water wells.
5) Have you travelled to any of these countries to see the positive effects of what you are doing?
We have indeed traveled to these countries. I’ve traveled to Haiti, my co-founder visited our partner in Kenya, and members of our team have recently been to Peru and Ethiopia. Next up is another trip to Kenya and, possibly in the winter, Guatemala. We always enjoy these trips: we can draw inspiration for future seasons, meet people of the communities, and witness the life changing effect of access to clean water.
605 Running Company is happy to partner with Dave and Janji as they continue to pursue their mission. After six months of being on the shelves in Sioux Falls, the 605 community has responded and provided 25 years worth of water for people in Ethiopia, India and Kenya!
A new line of Janji clothes has just come into the store this week, and it is great to know that while being thousands of miles away, we can still be part of a solution to those without clean water. Check out the full Janji site here!