One for the Girls
10 July 2013 at 12:17 pm
Shared value creation promises to be ‘more than just a pretty face’ for an Australian feminine hygiene company tackling an unexpected social issue.
Led by Co-founder and Director Mia Klitsas, Melbourne-based Moxie is proving true to its motto by dealing with ‘girl problems’ at an unprecedented level.
On the agenda is ‘One for the Girls’, a partnership with social enterprise AFRIpads to address sanitary hygiene problems in Uganda.
Starting this month, for every packet of specially marked Moxie products sold to retail partners between now and the year’s end, Moxie will provide the equivalent amount of pads to Ugandan schoolgirls.
‘One for the Girls’ was not the result of a search for a cause to support, but was sparked instead by an email from Klitsas’ Aunt about the high rates of school absenteeism resulting from lack of access to sanitary products in the country.
One in ten schoolgirls was skipping school during menstruation because of poor menstrual hygiene management, and in some cases, students were missing up to 20% of the school year, an average of five days per month. Their academic potential was suffering considerably as a result.
Moved by the girls’ plight, Klitsas was quick to contact Ugandan-based AFRIpads co-founder Sophia Klumpp.
AFRIpads works to produce and supply sanitary products to school girls in the African nation.
The pair hit it off at their first meeting, recognising the parallels in what they were trying to achieve on opposite sides of the world.
I thought, “this is a sign!”, Klitsas says.
She took her ideas to her small team of five staff, and within a couple of months, ‘One for the Girls’ was born.
She says the ease of remedying the problem is what made it such an important cause to get involved with.
“We’re often touched by cancer and other diseases. This we take for granted. It’s really easy to get caught up in our everyday lives.”
Clarity trumps critics
‘One for the Girls’, Klitsas says, is distinguished by its transparency.
For us it’s more of a direct correlation, she says. “We’re selling pads for pads.”
“It was really important for it be clear what we’re doing. We want girls to really understand.”
Aligning the chosen social issue with the product’s target demographic has proven logical and effective, Klitsas says.
“It’s something only women can understand. It’s a girl thing,” she says.
“It hits you on multiple levels. It’s not something we’ve really thought of before. Aussie girls really resonate with it.”
Klitsas says that Moxie has largely avoided the cynicism that can go hand-in-hand with corporate initiatives.
“Some people might say, ‘is it a marketing exercise?’ At the end of the day, we’re relying on the loyalty of customers and the brand. Without it we wouldn’t have that voice.”
“Consumers are really savvy. They’ll decide. I think we’ve really established that trust.”
A direct and honest approach has helped maintain that loyalty, Klitsas says.
“It really depends on how you approach it. We’ve always been honest and direct.”
“We don’t overpromise and underdeliver. I think it’s really important how you conduct yourself,” she says.
Moxie used resources as sparingly as possible in getting the campaign off the ground.
“We did pretty much everything in-house,” she says.
One concession was the hiring of an agency to manage the public relations and marketing aspects of the campaign. The tagline developed was ‘imagine using newspaper every time you have your period’.
Direct marketing packs were mailed out to a select few, containing mock sheets of newspaper with a cut out pad template, scissors, an information sheet and product samples.
“I think creating that awareness is the most important thing,“ Klitsas says, acknowledging the importance of weighing up the use of funds that could otherwise be put directly towards the cause.
The domino effect
As a brand, Moxie was founded on ideals of corporate responsibility. The company uses packaging made of recyclable tin to replace wasteful cardboard and plastic wrappings and a partnership with the Butterfly Foundation sees some profits go towards promotion of healthy body image.
Yet ‘One for the Girls’ extends beyond notions of obligation and offsetting harm embedded in corporate social responsibility, creating instead what Klitsas describes as “a really beautiful domino effect”.
The shared value scenario Klitsas has engineered promotes both sustainability and employment while generating profits.
The ‘Deluxe Menstrual Kits’ provided as part of the program are reusable and can last one young woman up to a year.
“Supply chain is a challenge,” she says. “We’ve had to be very mindful of the local environment.”
Materials used in the kits are locally sourced, and the sanitary products are handmade by 50 Ugandan women employed by AFRIPads.
The social enterprise supports local generation of income for women and provides educational training around personal finance and banking for their employees.
One for the future
‘One for the Girls’ was launched this month and will run until the end of the year. Evaluation will follow the six month trial.
Social impact is to be measured by the number of kits provided, and for now, the aim is to distribute 6,000 menstrual hygiene kits by that time.
“We feel like it could be a great ongoing relationship with AFRIpads,” Klitsas says. “We hope to collectively make it bigger and better.”
Size does not matter when it comes to social impact, she says.
“You don’t have to be a huge corporation to make a difference,” Klitsas says. “Things like being small or not having enough money, it has never stopped us from doing what’s important.”
Klitsas and Moxie are poised to prove that corporate responsibility can be ‘more than just a pretty face’ for the business world.
“It shows we’re not just one dimensional. We’ve always been about more than selling pads and tampons”, she says.
“If we can help one girl, then we have done our job.”