Peter Thum

Founder of Ethos Water; Former VP of Starbucks

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Peter Thum is CEO and co-founder of Fonderie47, a social venture addressing assault rifle proliferation in Africa. He is also founder of the brand Ethos Water and the nonprofit Giving Water.

In 2001, while in South Africa, Thum observed the effect » Read Full Bio

Peter Thum is CEO and co-founder of Fonderie47, a social venture addressing assault rifle proliferation in Africa. He is also founder of the brand Ethos Water and the nonprofit Giving Water.

In 2001, while in South Africa, Thum observed the effect of that country's water crisis on everyday people. He saw that those lacking access to clean water were exposed to direct health problems like water-borne illness and other related health risks. Gathering, carrying, and purifying water took an enormous amount of people's daily time and acted as a serious impediment to economic development, especially in rural areas.

Water, Thum realized, was at the core of so many problems in the developing world at large. He wrote down his original idea on a napkin: launch a company that would provide water and raise money for clean water programs in the developing world. In 2002, he set to implementing that vision. He left his job at McKinsey & Company and founded Ethos, becoming President of Ethos Brands, LLC.

Over the next six years, Thum led Ethos to become a national brand in the US and to raise more than $6 million in humanitarian water grants and help over 420,000 people worldwide. Ethos was acquired by Starbucks in 2005 and Thum stayed on through to 2008, managing Ethos and serving as a Director of the Starbucks Foundation.

In 2008, Thum founded GivingWater.org to extend his work toward solving the world water crisis. The organization is now serving over 1,000 schoolchildren at schools in Kenya. While visiting water programs in Kenya, he was struck by the insecurity created by the presence of assault rifles, which spurred him to start his current venture, Fonderie47.

Thum also serves on the boards for several companies and organizations focused on service, including: The Global Fund for Human Rights; The Center for Human Rights Leadership at Claremont McKenna College; The Dean's Council of the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service; and Impossible to Possible Ultra-Athletic Adventures.

Thum holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a BA in government from Claremont McKenna College

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Media files by Peter Thum

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Speaker Programs (Click on each program to view the description)

Ethos Water, Realizing My Dream To Help Millions & Address the World Water Crisis (Environmental)
Peter's venture has raised millions of dollars, engaged tens of millions of consumers, and helped hundreds of thousands of people around the world get life-saving water. From an idea he wrote on a napkin, Peter built Ethos through to its acquisition by Starbucks in 2005. In his experience you see the importance of both an unwavering belief in your ideas and the perseverance needed to make them come to life in the in the face of great adversity. But the path to change the world can change you too. In this keynote speech, Thum tells of his personal eight year journey from working in elite circles and advising the Fortune 500 to driving a borrowed station wagon and eventually selling his company to Starbucks. Along the way he has traveled the world and helped save and change the lives of some of the planet's poorest people. His inspiring and motivating story shows what one person with a dream can realize.
Are You Seeking Out Deeply Moving Experiences? (Social Responsibility)
Deeply moving experiences lead to meaningful moments and happiness. In his thought-provoking presentation, Peter Thum shares his personal journey of how he was inspired to seek out, and accomplish, his own success and fulfillment, while ultimately helping others. He stresses that everyone can achieve these moments through caring about the world and striving to make a difference.
Successful Social Entrepreneurs
Thum outlines his credo for helping others become successful social entrepreneurs and thereby create successful businesses.
Leading Forward, The Role of Social Responsibility in the Corporate World
As corporations play an ever-expanding role in our lives, it is now more imperative than ever before that they take the steps necessary to improve the lives of their employees, their consumers, their communities and of society at large. A dedicated social entrepreneur who has successfully established businesses that are driven by a social mission of helping those in need, Peter Thum delivers lessons on the importance of corporate social responsibility from which any organization can learn and benefit. From ethical branding and leveraging philanthropy, to emboldening a corporate message, to building a culture where giving back is a standard operating procedure; Thum helps companies of all sizes to understand the steps they need to complete to put social responsibility at the core of their mission and performance.

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  • Entrepreneurship/Small Business
  • Green/Environmental
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