By Jordan Herson
Bright Citizen is a social enterprise focused on creating a sustainable future. The company donates 50% of its profits to the Digital Citizen Fund, a non-profit that provides access to technology and business education to teenage girls in developing countries. They have also introduced a first-of-its-kind coffee product blended with Saffron. Bright Citizen’s coffee is certified as both organic and fair trade, and the content is 100% arabica.
Co-founders Elaha and Roya Mahboob started their journey as entrepreneurs in 2010 when they opened the first female-owned IT business in Afghanistan. They later created the non-profit, Digital Citizen Fund, because they were focused on developing ideas that could create social change. So far, the non-profit has educated over 10,000 women in Afghanistan on digital and financial literacy.
“One year ago, we were thinking about how we could do more by having a sustainable business revenue model,” Mahboob said. “We wanted to create something that would have value but also have social impact and spotlight Afghanistan. The first thing that came to mind that had a real connection to Afghanistan was saffron. By combining saffron with coffee, the second most consumed commodity in the world, we can make a huge difference in our region.”
Bright Citizen participated in eLab during the 2018-19 school year. The student accelerator provided Elaha with resources, networking, business advice, and mentorship through course work and speaking to customers. “At the start of the program, I mainly had the idea and the solution that I was trying to provide. During the course of program, by going through the customer discovery process, I could better identify my customers’ problems, and find my target market. This has helped me customize my product in accordance to our customers’ needs.”
In May of 2019, Bright Citizen surpassed their Kickstarter goal of $6,500. This was accomplished by 61 backers who pledged $6,813. The co-founders focused on having a powerful story and video for their campaign, as well as spent time networking and receiving feedback from customers. The team plans to use fundingfrom the Kickstarter to produce more saffron-infused coffee and develop a new product. Bright Citizen’s next steps include building partnerships with coffee shops and online distributors to generate direct sales. In addition, they are working to gain more investment to ramp up production and begin distribution of the product.