From beer to alcohol gel

Initiative to fight Covid-19 in Belgium comes from event entrepreneurs “technically unemployed” during the pandemia crisis

Viviane Vaz for 2East Belgium
(Brussels, 24 April 2020.)

Last Summer, their backpacks were present in the main music festivals and big events in Belgium, such as Tour de France and Moosebar in Sportpaleis. They were full of beer, water and coffee, a creative mobile way to sell drinks during crowded events. This Summer will be different. Massive events are forbidden in Belgium until August 31. So, 2East Belgium backpacks are now moving to an unexpected place: to the entrance of schools, supermarkets, shops, train stations and airports.

“We were looking for ideas to fight coronavirus in Belgium and then we realized we had already something we could do,” explains 2East Benelux co-founder Christophe Barbé, together with co-founders Ellen Rigaux and Tijs Vandenbroucke.

2East Benelux co-founders from right to left: Christophe Barbé, Ellen Rigaux and Tijs Vandenbroucke.

2East Benelux co-founders from right to left: Christophe Barbé, Ellen Rigaux and Tijs Vandenbroucke.

Since today, 2East Benelux staff is equipped with masks, gloves and backpacks full of alcohol gel to spray the product in every client’s hands before they enter the market.

The customer arrives and the alcohol gel is sprayed by a 2EastBelgium employee holding small barrels inside the backpacks. Each employee can carry 12.4 liters of alcohol, which means an average of 1200 customers attended per hour by each employee. The backpacks can be refilled several times for countless rounds.

One goal, nice people and perfect technology

“We had the devices for mobile sales of beer, among other things, and the know-how and technology. We just needed to adapt it for alcohol gel,” says Christophe.

“We had freelance workers and students who told us they were keen to get back to work and do something to help out fighting coronavirus,” remarks Ellen.

“We came to improve the measures to get the Belgian economy back on track. Besides social distancing, shops can now help their clients to make sure their hands are clean and desinfected”, says Tijs.

Belgian networking

The next step was to contact local companies that provide disinfection products in Belgium. Filliers in Deinze proved to be the right choice, based on the alcohol gel recipe approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and having all the necessary permits.

“We already produced 50,000 liters and already supplied to several hospitals, but this is the first time we will supply for backpacks. This creative and safe way of distributing it to the public immediately appealed to us”, says the Filliers CEO, Bart Cnudde.

2East Belgium event background

Christophe Barbé is the business manager of Id International, a travel and event agency based in Dilbeek, organizing congresses and incentive travels in Belgium and around the world.

Ellen Rigaux is the business manager of First In line, a company that organizes events and festivals, besides providing employees and support in the field of stock and beverage management.

Tijs Vandenbroucke is the manager of several companies active in the event sector (festivals, concepts and parties) and operator of the event hall Radar in Lokeren.

The Belgian chapter

The three Belgian entrepreneurs joined forces in 2019 to start 2East Benelux, the Belgian chapter of the Portuguese global initiative 2East World.

“We are in Portugal, Brazil, United States, Mexico, Spain, France, Switzerland and Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg… More than 6 million liters of beer, sunscreen and other products are sold and promoted at the service of the largest brands and events. Now we are together fighting Covid-19 with our expertise,” say 2East World partners Bruno Leste, Luis Coelho, André Leite and João Fernandes.

Photo: Nathalie Dolmans