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Gavin Weale Sees the Business Savvy in Doing Good

Posted by Erin Brown in marketing publishing trends on April 23, 2010

There’s a great story in Publishing Perspectives about Gavin Weale, 32, of Live Futures, who won the UK Young Publishing Entrepreneur Award at this year’s London Book Fair. The award was for his work with London youth and his plan to start a magazine in Langa, the oldest township in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Weale is a founding member of Livity, a socially responsible marketing agency based in south London. In 2004 the agency launched Live magazine, a publication produced, marketed, and distributed by local youth ages 13 to 21. In creating a platform for young voices, Live has also captured a young readership. The project has enjoyed considerable success, spawning sister publications in other areas of London. Now a multimedia enterprise, Live Futures also provides youth with the opportunity and tools to produce their own music and videos.

Check out this video to get a glimpse of the tremendous energy and positivity that Live is generating:


Weale believes that there is similar energy (and a huge market) just waiting to be tapped in South Africa. On a recent trip to the country, where the population consists of 4 million whites and 39 million blacks, he was “shocked by the small, inward-looking” publishing industry, which does not engage with the black audience at all, despite the fact that 80 percent of South Africa’s disposable income is spent within the townships. Here, as in London, Weale sees enormous potential in the convergence of entrepreneurship and social engagement. “Not only could [publishers] use the power of their brands to improve literacy and deprivation, but also to open up a new market,” he says.

Convinced that social responsibility is the future of business, Weale and his colleagues at Livity would probably agree with a previous article in Publishing Perspectives, The Rise of ‘Cause’ Publishing,” which cites Dave Eggers’s Zeitoun and other McSweeney’s projects as evidence that “literary activism is fast-becoming the new arbiter of cool.”

Gabriel Levinson, who wrote the “Cause” article and has spearheaded some literary activism of his own in Chicago, makes a critical observation about all of this “publishing with a purpose”—which is that its success, both socially and in business terms, revolves around building and engaging community. Strikingly, it’s the same principle that’s driving so much innovation in publishing right now, from websites like Fictionaut to Richard Nash’s new Cursor project.


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