Co-op joins Hey Girls and Big Issue Invest Power Up programme in the fight against period poverty

The period poverty-battling Hey Girls took another giant leap forward as its products hit the shelves of the community retailer, Co-op.

With a £50,000 investment from Big Issue Invest, Hey Girls Day Time and Overnight Sani pads and Menstrual Cups can be found in just under 200 Co-op food stores, marking the launch of the Big Issue Invest Power Up programme.

Founded by Celia Hodson with the help of her two daughters, Kate and Becky, Hey Girls sells a full range of Period Products on a ‘buy one give one’ model – meaning for every pack purchased another is donated to a girl or woman in the UK in need. Following the completion of the three month Power Up Programme in 2018, Hey Girls were listed in both ASDA and Waitrose last year and is a major supplier in the Scottish Government’s initiative to provide access to free sanitary products to pupils and students in Scotland.

Hodson was joined by Danyal Sattar, CEO of Big Issue Invest (BII) and representatives from project partners, Aberdeen Standard Investments and the University of Edinburgh at the Co-op store on Frederick Street in Edinburgh to mark the launch of the investment programme for 2019. BII’s Power Up Programme has raised £1.4 million since 2018 and delivered over 1,000 hours of business mentoring.

Power Up Scotland, pioneered by BII, funded by partners, Aberdeen Standard Investments, the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish Government, Brodies LLP, Places for People and Experian is aimed at enabling up to 20 Scottish social ventures to access loan funding of up to £50k over the next two years. This unique programme brings together the public, private, third and academic sectors to mentor social enterprises and to open doors through cross sector networks.

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell said: ““It’s great to see the social enterprise Hey Girls get the help they need to expand through the Power Up Scotland programme.

“Social enterprises contribute £2 billion to our economy every year, and by funding social investment initiatives such as Power Up, we are enabling the sector to grow. It is important that we continue to support our social entrepreneurs to tackle inequality in our society and create successful, sustainable businesses.”

Danyal Sattar, CEO of Big Issue Invest, said: “We’re really proud to have supported such a dynamic social enterprise. It’s fantastic to see how the Power Up Programme has made a crucial difference to social ventures, such as Hey Girls, which has enjoyed unprecedented growth since being founded in January 2018.

“We’re really pleased to be working with Aberdeen Standard Investments, The University of Edinburgh, Scottish Government and Experian. It’s a strong partnership, which allows us to offer even more inspiring social ventures with the investment and business development expertise that they need.”

Celia Hodson, Founder of Hey Girls, said: “Gaining a listing in one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives, owned by millions of members, gives us a real buzz.  Co-op customers selecting a Hey Girls product in store know the more period products we sell, the more period product we can donate to their local community. Box for Box. Simple – that’s why we’re different from all the other product manufacturers and why our values align completely with the Co-op.”

Amanda Young, Head of Global ESG Investment Research at Aberdeen Standard Investments, said: “We’re delighted to see social ventures such as Hey Girls enjoying such success and we’re incredibly proud to support Big Issue Invest and the Power Up Scotland programme again in 2019. The programme is an excellent match for our ambitions to create connections that help address social and environmental challenges. We look forward to continuing to provide expert mentoring support to early stage social ventures across Scotland.”

Dave Gorman, Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh said: “We are one year into our partnership with Power Up Scotland and have been blown away by the positive impact social ventures such as Hey Girls are able to make with access to the right funding and expertise. The University of Edinburgh is delighted to continue investing in Power Up Scotland as part of our commitment to make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible contribution to Scotland.”

Victoria Haigh, category buyer for Co-op, said: “At Co-op we know that period poverty is a much wider issue across the UK and internationally. We are proud of our partnership with Hey Girls, particularly as their ‘buy one, give one’ initiative aligns with our community values. We are delighted to list the brand at the Co-op knowing that the products will give back to the wider community.”

Hey Girls Daytime and Overnight Sani Pads (£3.25) and Menstrual Cups in sizes small (£8.95) and large (£8.95) will be available in 184 Co-op stores across the UK from 22nd July, with charities and organisations local to these shops benefitting directly through each sale.

The Power Up programme will make £500,000 available to lend this year and is now open to organisations across Scotland. The funding available is to enable organisations to build on the good work they currently do within their communities. Whether it’s buying equipment, hiring new talent, or progressing with business development plans. Successful applicants will also receive mentoring and business development support to social ventures for the two year period.

Applications for Power Up 2019 are now open. Visit www.bigissueinvest/powerup to register your interest and we will email you an application form.

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