Dubai website plugs 'give as you gift' model

Injoy Giving allows UAE residents to purchase gift vouchers and pass on part of the price to charity

A Dubai-based gift website hopes to harness a rise in online shopping by redirecting a portion of the money shoppers spend on gifts to local and international charities.

Injoy Giving, which launched in June, allows UAE residents to purchase gift vouchers for experiences ranging from breakfast out, to dinner and show, or a yoga class. Part of the price is passed on to charity, for initiatives such as providing school meals to some of the world’s neediest children.

“Even by gifting a cup of coffee or a spa day for a friend, there’s a humanitarian impact,” said Natasha Rockstrom, co-founder of the site. “The inspiration behind it is that both the giver and receiver feel empowered that they’ve been able to be part of a contribution to changing lives. So that is an extra gift each of them gets.”

Rolled out in time for the holy month of Ramadan, Injoy Giving partners with the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) to provide school meals for children around the world. The social enterprise hopes to raise enough to provide 250,000 school meals in three years, said Rockstrom.

Injoy has already partnered with two further charities, children’s education NGO Magic Bus and the UAE-based Adopt-a-Camp, which supports labourers in the UAE. The company plans to add both nonprofits to the website by the end of the year.

The social enterprise buys gifts from Dubai businesses at wholesale prices, taking a commission on each gift sold. A commission of between 15 and 30 per cent is the industry average, said Rockstrom. A fixed percentage of Injoy’s profits is passed on to charity partners.

“For example, a spa package that costs $100 is going to create five education days,” said Rockstrom. “Gifting a cup of coffee [of around AED18, or $4.90] is enough to feed a child for one day. With a spa gift, you’d be able to feed a child for a month.”

It costs $0.25 on average to feed a child a nutritious school meal, according to WFP. Each dirham Injoy Giving donates provides one meal, which covers the cost of the meal plus the 10 per cent contribution to Dubai’s International Humanitarian City, where the social enterprise is licensed.

Some 15 local companies have signed up to the scheme so far as gift partners, including Riva Beach Club, Zoga and restaurants such as Frioul and Sophie’s. Injoy hopes to expand this to 50 by the year-end.

The platform will add more charities to its roster to widen consumers’ choice about where their money goes, said Rockstrom. Magic Bus helps children in India attend school more regularly, as well as providing health and hygiene education. In the UAE, Adopt-a-Camp offers healthcare, sanitation and education to some 57,000 of the Gulf country’s low-income workers.

Fundraising for charity is only part of Injoy’s aim. The website also hopes to raise awareness of giving and of its charity partners by featuring individual case studies.

“Most people don’t know where the money goes [when they give to WFP]. They have the security knowing it’s the UN but they don’t know the impact,” said Rockstrom. “To get people really involved in giving back to their community and the world around them – to be empowered contributors in their society – they need to actually know the human side of the stories. That’s where education and engagement comes in.”

From September, Injoy will organise monthly events in Dubai that it hopes will inspire others to give back. The website’s users will nominate Injoy Heroes to share their experiences. The hope is that putting these “generosity ambassadors” in the spotlight will spur more giving, said Rockstrom.

Getting a social enterprise up and running in the UAE has not all been plain sailing, said Rockstrom. But in the year since she and co-founder Martin Rockstrom came up with the idea, the business has secured two years’ of funding from a Dubai-based angel investor, and attracted the interest of two further investors.

“It has been challenging [to find an investor for a social cause],” acknowledged Rockstrom. “But it has also ensured we think very much like a for-profit company without compromising on our humanitarian motivation.”  

Photo credit: Injoy Giving