Author: Marc Ashton
One of the most exciting social entrepreneurship projects we work on is the Blossomcare Sanitary Pad micro franchise model and having watched this model evolve over the last few years, I think there are some interesting learnings that come out of it.
For those not familiar with the model, there is a short video clip below showing the technology in action but in a nutshell, these are microfranchises which are typically staffed by 6 young women who end up learning manufacturing skills as they produce biodegradable sanitary pads. The initiative has already created 50 sustainable jobs for young women.
Typically these are funded out of Enterprise Development contributions and then supported by off-take agreements from corporates who then buy the pads and donate them to schools, clinics or other social initiatives.
Here are a couple reasons why I believe this model is very cool:
- We are establishing manufacturing capacity in the country}
- The franchises are genuine new ventures with the young ladies having the opportunity to take ownership of them
- The stats are scary: Young women (as a population group) are missing thousands of school days each year because they do not have access to sanitary products. It is hard enough to break into the economy with a full education track record behind you … now imagine if you are missing up to 2 months of a school year?
- The biodegradable nature of the products means that the impact on the environment is significantly lower. Waste management in South Africa is already at a breaking point and many of the townships are drowning in waste or have become landfills.
- The micro-franchises create further downstream opportunities including delivery and waste management opportunities, creating a multiplier effect for job creation. It is a genuine youth employment opportunity.
- The model is sustainable from Year 1 with corporates committing to off-take agreements and orders being aggregated across multiple sites. The Blossom team are also pushing into retail distribution agreements which will be a solid under-pin for the franchises
- The model ticks multiple ESG and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)