Rob and Paul Forkan are social entrepreneurs and the proud owners of a charitable foundation called Gandys which they set up in 2012. Gandys was originally set up to support ‘Orphans for Orphans’, to aid communities in different parts of the world for underprivileged children providing them with education, medication and nutrition. Gandys manufactures and sells travel-inspired clothing and accessories for men and women all over the world. Trading ethically, their manufactured products are sold in their own retail outlets and online with profits reinvested into their charitable foundation. This is important to Rob and Paul as they can build new community campuses every 18 months whilst continuing to fund existing ones.
Rob and Paul’s inspirational business journey originally started in 2001 when their entire family uprooted from England to go on a tour around Asia. This meant the two brothers and the rest of their siblings were taken out of school. Both Rob and Paul are dyslexic and found school difficult and challenging, so this wasn’t necessarily a great loss to either of them! Their parents understood this. They taught them in different ways by learning to appreciate their new surroundings, visiting interesting places and teaching them to appreciate new cultures. If it hadn’t been for travelling Rob and Paul felt they wouldn’t have learnt how to be independent, something which they later came to rely on. During their travels they used their imagination to keep themselves busy. It was whilst volunteering they encountered children less fortunate than themselves.
Both parents were already social entrepreneurs and always made a point to make sure that Paul and Rob were grateful for what they had. They were encouraged to get involved with local projects as much as possible. This was is the inspiration behind Gandys and the focus for them going forward.
However, disaster struck in 2004. It was the year of the devastating tsunami which hit Sri Lanka on Boxing Day. Rob and Paul’s parents were tragically killed in the disaster, leaving them and their younger siblings orphaned and in a foreign country. When the wave hit they were desperate to try and find their parents but had difficulty in communicating with the locals and it was it also extremely difficult returning to the UK and dealing with the media attention. By this point, they had become accustomed to looking after themselves and managed to support and lookout for each other. They will still only 15 and 17 years old and they had to learn how to grow up fast.
Although they have never wanted to settle into a regular job or a normal career they did want to find a way in which to combine both their interests which was to repay the kindness that was bestowed on them by the Sri Lankan people. The other was to continue their voluntary work. Seeing first-hand how much help was needed, spurred them to set up Gandys.
To find out more about their voluntary work and their range of products visit: www.gandyslondon.com