Box Beyond Borders: Fighting Period Poverty
Thanks to UON student Sophie Eland’s new business model, Phoebe Metcalfe checks her privilege while discovering a new way to cope with her period.
Women, trans women, girls, and some non-binary people bleed once a month.
This may be common knowledge for us and we may be fortunate enough to have the means of coping with access to information and hygiene products. However, in some developing countries, this is not the case. According to a 2018 UNICEF article, “More than half of adolescent girls in Ethiopia don’t receive any education about menstruation before their first periods”, leading to misconceptions and taboo in communities. Those misinformed communities can’t provide proper feminine hygiene without correct information.
But we can help by simply having our periods.
Box Beyond Borders (BBB) is a subscription-based feminine hygiene provider founded by the University of Newcastle Business and Commerce student Sophie Eland. Depending on your subscription package, a box is sent to your door each month containing two packs of period must-haves of your choice (tampons, pads, liners etc.), with an extra little gift to help with the woeful week.
With each box purchased BBB donates a menstrual cup to a woman in Vanuatu or Malawi, East Africa to fight period poverty. Subscribe for six months; you help six women from communities in need.
For Sophie, this has been a passion project since high school. After developing her business idea for a Year 11 assignment, she travelled to Vanuatu and spoke to local women about their experiences with female hygiene.
“After being exposed to the issue, I wanted to make an impact, even if I started small in my last few years at [university].”
Recently she travelled to Malawi and gathered more stories from women in the village. From these two trips, Sophie has made and kept contacts that made this venture possible.
“We currently have a partnership with St. Philip’s Christian College. They currently have contacts in local schools in Vanuatu, in Port Villa, and the remote island of Emao. St. Philip’s also travels to Kenya, Malawi, and India. This gives us the opportunity to communicate with current contacts and the local schools/villages and see where the menstrual cups are needed.”
Being in her third year of her Bachelor’s degree, Sophie says she has to limit the time she spends on the business. “I would much prefer researching than doing my assessment tasks. I spend a lot of time in Semester One developing the business, doing market research, establishing packing designs and suppliers so it is easy to manage the business currently.”
Sophie has also found the university to be an amazing resource on this dream venture of hers, utilising 2020 and enrolling in the Ideation in Enterprise course.
“The whole aim of the course was to develop an idea for a business, conduct market research and get the product/service ready for the market. I found this course so helpful.”
After only the first month of production, Sophie’s already receiving amazing feedback and her customer demographics are expanding.
“At the end of September and at the start of October [I] started to send off boxes to people I don’t know. It’s [a] very exciting and strange concept.”
If you want to help Sophie help the women of Vanuatu and Malawi, you can donate a menstrual cup or order your own Oct/Dec box here. I’m ordering mine today!
Don’t bleed? Follow Box Beyond Borders’ journey on their socials anyway.
Feature Image: Bea King, Yak Media Designer