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Fonderie 47 background
Fonderie 47 − 'fonderie' is French for foundry (for melting and casting metal),'47' for AK47 − was founded in 2009 by Peter Thum with the goal of reducing the number of destabilizing assault weapons in Africa. Thum realized the enormous problem these weapons created, having met boys and young men armed with assault rifles, and the victims of these weapons, while developing clean water projects in east Africa.
There are millions of assault weapons in Africa. A large majority of these are AK47 variants. In Africa, assault rifles cost about 70% less than anywhere else in the world. While prices of AK47s have generally risen worldwide over the last three decades, they have fallen in Africa due to the sheer number of weapons and ease of availability.
Thum decided to transform these implements of devastation into something as removed from them and as positive as possible, i.e. exclusive objects that would inspire change and fund the destruction of weapons.
The mission to create a high-end mechanical watch incorporating metal from a destroyed AK47 began even before Fonderie 47 was founded, because it quickly became clear that the development and production of a completely original complicated haute horlogerie timepiece would take many years.
Fonderie 47 has also worked with some of the world’s best designers and jewelers to create artistic pieces made from AK47 steel, precious metals and jewels.
Working with the Nobel Prize winning NGO Mines Advisory Group, to date Fonderie 47 has funded the destruction of over 30,000 assault rifles in war zones in Africa.
Profile Peter Thum, founder of Fonderie 47
Fonderie 47 CEO and founder Peter Thum began his business career with Gallo Winery and McKinsey & Company before becoming a social entrepreneur. Visits to Africa highlighted the widespread health issues caused by the lack of clean water and led Thum to launch the bottled water brand 'Ethos Water' in 2003 to fund safe-water projects in Africa. Starbucks bought Ethos Water in 2005 and after the sale, Thum served as Vice President of Starbucks Corporation, operating the Ethos Water business, and as a Director of the Starbucks Foundation. Ethos Water has helped around half a million people around the world to gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education.
While visiting safe water projects in Africa, Thum became aware of the problems caused by widespread availability of assault rifles, in particular the ubiquitous AK47. He decided to launch a luxury brand − something sending a positive message and far removed from the destructive arms − the profits from which would be used to destroy and eliminate these weapons. In 2009 Fonderie 47 was launched, a venture that transforms AK47s from Africa into rare jewelry and exclusive high-end Swiss timepieces, which in turn fund the destruction of more weapons − over 30,000 destroyed to date.
Peter Thum also founded and is President of the non-profit Giving Water, which has helped over 6,000 schoolchildren in Africa to gain water and sanitation access and is Board Director of The Fund for Global Human Rights and an adviser to FEED Projects.