Virgin StartUp trip to Chicago – the winner announced

We recently announced an opportunity to send a Virgin StartUp-funded business that’s changing the world to Chicago for the trip of a lifetime. We were blown away by how many of our businesses are doing incredible social things – but ultimately we could only choose one.

We’re thrilled to announce the winner is Frances Lucraft, founder of Eco Hygiene Care. Her business addresses two global issues – access to feminine hygiene in developing countries and disaster zones, and the devastating environmental impact of disposable sanitary products.

Access to feminine hygiene in developing countries is not a cause which gets much attention. However, it’s a huge problem globally. Poor access to these products, plus cultural taboos and lack of education about menstruation, hamper millions of women from continuing education and from working, as well as leaving them vulnerable to health issues. At the other end of the scale, the disposable products used in developed countries contribute to landfill and pollution – just one sanitary pad contains the same amount of plastic as 4 shopping bags.

Eco Hygiene Care are addressing these problems by creating hygiene products that are 100% organic cotton, reusable products and biodegradable products, and investing 10% of pre-tax profits into improving education about, and access to, feminine hygiene in developing countries. Their biodegradable products will be sent to disaster zones, and by encouraging women in developed countries to make a more environmentally-conscious choice, women across the world can have improved access to these products too.

“Feminine hygiene products are more than a necessity - they are a powerful commodity that give young girls and women the freedom of choice, and the ability to live a life with dignity," explains Frances. "My motivation was to create a business where people, planet and profit are interlinked and instilled into everything we do. I want to reassure women that they can make choices that make a positive impact on the environment and on their health, as well as enhancing lives. I am incredibly excited to have won this wonderful opportunity - to not only highlight menstrual hygiene management as a critical social and environmental issue, but to showcase my business idea of how these issues can be solved with other like-minded entrepreneurs who are developing environmental and ethically-conscious businesses."

Including travel, and all-expenses paid stay in the new Virgin Hotel Chicago, the startup will be part of an exclusive one-day event for 100 social entrepreneurs – an opportunity to showcase their business in front of the audience and expert speakers, gaining invaluable feedback and learning how to develop their idea.  With speakers at the event including Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, Amy Kaherl, founder of Detroit Soup, and Gayel Northrup, president of Northrop Non-Profit Consulting, it’s an amazing opportunity for a social enterprise to gain visibility for their cause, and for their business.

Congratulations to founder Frances,  and thank you to all the businesses that applied – and keep your eyes peeled for other opportunities from us.

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