Project Red Stripe Reveals Lughenjo

    June 29, 2007

Google and Yahoo do good deeds on a weekly basis.  Microsoft and Ask also make the occasional selfless act.  And now Project Red Stripe, a team within The Economist Group, has unveiled Lughenjo.  Lughenjo is intended to be “[a] business that does good, and returns a profit.”

The name and the concept both sound a bit strange, and since it’s quicker to explain the former, I’ll start there.  Lughenjo is a “Tuvetan word meaning gift,” according to Tom Shelley, Red Stripe’s main blogger.

Ludwig Siegele, another member of the team, addresses the whole money thing.  “You can be sure that we have had more than one heated debate about this question,” he writes.  “Initially, we wanted Lughenjo to be not-for-profit, with revenues to finance the programme coming from The Economist Group as well as long-term sponsors and grants.”

Siegele then continues, “Yet this would have been an all too easy way out, not very innovative – and would likely have led us into a dead end.  A business model mainly based on the financial support of others has serious drawbacks that would limit Lughenjo’s growth and sustainability.”

The Red Stripe team’s self-proclaimed Methusaleh then names one other well-known, for-profit, charity:

So, that’s the “what” and the “why.”  The “when” has yet to be nailed down.  As for the “how,” Lughenjo fancies itself a version of “Yahoo! Answers for good,” and will put deserving groups’ questions in front of people who can help solve their problems.  Lughenjo will also “do what media companies do best and put ads in front of eyeballs.” 

It remains to be seen how this will all work, but Marketing Pilgrim’s Kelvin Newman – to whom I owe a hat tip – seems to feel there’s a lot of potential.