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Aqua Equity is a black owned social enterprise that serves to close the social equity gap in under resourced communities starting with Watts, CA. Aqua Equity donates 10% of their profits to help support nonprofit partners do work in the community in the form of educational programs, community cleanups, food drives and health fairs. Bottled in 100% aluminum, Aqua Equity aims to sustain our earth and the people who live in it. The UN SDGs Aqua Equity aims to address are 1. No Poverty, 3. Good Health and Well-Being, 8, Decent Work and Growth, and, most importantly, 10. Reduced Inequalities.
Founded in March 2020, just before the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Aqua Equity is the brainchild of Ryan Morgan along with partners Brandon Espy and JT Rogan. Ryan Morgan, having worked for larger corporate beverage companies, witnessed their exploitation of the very communities that looked like the ones he grew up in. This inspired him to start his own beverage company, Aqua Equity, to uplift and benefit under resourced communities like the one where he grew up.
Aqua Equity quickly found their niche when they were approached by Stix of the Think Watts Foundation who let them know of a number of residents having trouble accessing bottled water at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aqua equity collaborated with fellow community members to establish a distribution network, ensuring their water reached those in need within the community. This led to Aqua Equity being noticed by a Hollywood filmmaker, Melina Matsoukas, who recognized the mission of the company and stocked their water on the set of her HBO show Insecure.
The motto of Aqua Equity is “Drink good… Do good” and they live this motto through donating 10% of their profits back to the community of Watts. Along with donating 10% of their profits to help under resourced communities, Aqua Equity is also committed to the environment and sustainability. Their water is packaged in 100% aluminum, which is far more recyclable than plastic.
Ryan Morgan grew up in the under-resourced community of San Bernardino, California. Most kids in the community lacked “father figures” according to Ryan and many went down an undesirable path in life. At the age of 19, he found himself headed to federal prison stemming from a bank robbery conviction. It was at this time that he realized he needed to turn his life around. After getting out of prison in his mid-20s, Ryan decided to return to school and his passion for football. After attending community college in Oakland, California, Ryan found himself heading to the University of San Diego to play football under Coach Jim Harbaugh. This is where he met friends who would later become cofounders of Aqua Equity.
After college, Ryan went on to work for some larger beverage corporations. It was while working for one of these companies that Ryan realized they “exploited the very communities that look like where I come from.” This led Ryan to leave the industry and return to school for an MBA. After completing his MBA, Aqua Equity came to fruition and the mission to “Drink good… Do good” began to grow.
Aqua Equity’s “Drink good… Do good” motto started right at the onset of the company. Shortly after the company launched, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Community members in Watts, California tipped off aqua Equity that there were residents who weren’t able to get bottled water. Aqua Equity quickly formed a distribution network within the community to get their bottled water to those in need. Within a year of launching, Aqua Equity had already donated nearly $25,000 worth of product to those in the community in need.
Beyond giving back to the community in the form of product, Aqua Equity has also collaborated with other local nonprofits to give back. They have done this in the form of educational programs, community cleanups, food drives, and health fairs. This has led to them being noticed by celebrities and has given recognition to the company' mission. The company continues to donate 10% of its profits back to the community of Watts, California.
Aqua Equity currently uses a co-packer to produce their product, which leads to razor thin margins. The company is currently in the planning phases of opening their own bottling facility in Watts, California. They are choosing this location to give directly back to the community they serve. Aqua Equity plans to follow the model of “open employment” which means they will hire on a first come, first served basis as long as you have the legal right to work in the United States. Your background will not be considered when it comes to employment. Ryan Morgan believes strongly in the open employment model, as he knows firsthand that having a record can negatively impact your ability to find good and meaningful work. Aqua Equity also plans to hire directly from the community they serve.
The company currently only has one product, bottled water, but plans to expand their offerings once they get their own bottling facility. Aqua Equity plans to expand into other segments within the beverage industry such as coconut water, which would be sourced from Haiti. The sourcing from Haiti is intentional and would align with the company's mission to continue to help under-resourced communities. Beyond coconut water, Aqua Equity is also exploring other beverages including “healthy” soda alternatives.
Aqua Equity aims to uplift under-resourced communities. They are currently giving back to the Watts community in South Central Los Angeles. The company donates 10% of their profits to the community. They give back not only in the form of their product but also through other avenues like educational programs, community cleanups, food drives, and health fairs. Once their bottling plant opens, they will have an even greater impact on the community they serve.
Being in tune with sustainability and the environment, Aqua Equity chose to bottle its water in recyclable aluminum bottles. They chose aluminum over other packaging, including plastic, due to the fact that “75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today and is forever reusable.” This is compared to plastic where only “9% is recycled” plus breaks down after 2-3 uses. Aqua Equity believes strongly in “sustaining our earth and the people who live in it.”
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Ryan Morgan, Co-founder
Aqua Equity Water is a remarkable Black owned bottled water brand with a mission to bridge the social equity divide in under resourced communities, starting with Watts, California. Aqua Equity firmly believes in the power of “Drink good… Do good,” which serves as an inspiring call to action for their customers to contribute to the positive transformation they wish to see. With every purchase of Aqua Equity water, 10% of the proceeds is reinvested in the community and allows the company to partner with nonprofits to engage in community initiatives such as community clean-ups, educational programs, food drives and health fairs. To do their part to commit to a sustainable future, Aqua Equity Water is packaged in “100% recyclable and forever reusable aluminum.”