This is a story we’re really happy to report. We covered the launch of Hey Girls earlier this year. So congratulations to all at Hey Girls from all of us here at Ethical Marketing News.
Having fought off competition from over a hundred entrants, Hey Girls, a ‘Buy One Give One’ sanitary social enterprise tackling period poverty in the UK, is celebrating after being crowned Virgin StartUps Scottish Business of the Year 2018.
Over the past three months, Virgin Startup10: Scotland has been searching for Scotland’s best startup businesses and entrepreneurs, for the chance to win ‘startup can’t buy prizes’ including mentoring and support from a leading Scottish law firm.
Pitching to an all-star judging panel, comprising of a mix of Scottish entrepreneurs including Jackie Waring, Investing Women, Bob Keiller CBE, Scottish Enterprise, Leah Hutcheon, Appointed, Callum Stuart, Mallzee and special guest Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, all ten finalists showcased the fantastic breadth of startup and entrepreneurial talent in Scotland.
Hey Girls, founded by mother Celia Hodson and her daughters, Becky and Kate, took home the top prize and will receive mentoring, marketing and PR support from Virgin StartUp as well as the all-star judging panel members.
Hey Girls is tackling period poverty in the UK via a ‘Buy One Give One’ model: every time a customer buys a packet of towels for themselves, they also pay for one to be donated to someone who is struggling with these additional costs of living.
Having been a single parent, Celia understands first-hand the financial strain of buying sanitary protection when struggling to survive on benefits and recognises that the situation for women hasn’t changed in twenty years, leaving her with the decision that something had to be done.
Commenting on the achievement, Celia Hodson founder of Hey Girls, said:”We’re thrilled to have been crowned Virgin StartUps Scottish Business of the Year 2018.
“It’s crazy to think that we’ve achieved this success having only just launched in January.
“We hope that having access to Virgin StartUp will ultimately have direct benefits in helping the Hey Girls brand expand thanks to the additional mentoring and business advice.”
Andrew Hutchison, Head of Strategy VSU said: “Huge congratulations to all our finalists, the response we had to the Virgin StartUp 10 Scotland campaign has been fantastic.
“Our aim was to champion Scottish entrepreneurs andshowcase that running your own business is achievable for anyone, regardless of age, education, upbringing or passion.
“Hey Girls really stood out for their passion, they showcased great innovation and were able to demonstrate the positive impact they were already making to a problem that is causing a real issue in the UK.”
Virgin Startup10: Scotland is being sponsored by BDO which supports businesses at all stages of the lifecycle from early stage start-ups to those looking for growth funding.
Jackie Waring, the founder & CEO of Investing Women, added: “It was very difficult to choose an overall winner; each finalist gave a compelling pitch.
“Hey Girls demonstrated the real effect their social enterprise is already making in just a few months and I don’t doubt we’re going to see more great things from them in the future.”
Business and Innovation Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Hey Girls is an incredible example of innovative, socially conscious entrepreneurship and will be an inspiration to other new start-ups throughout Scotland.
“Scotland’s future economic success lies in the strength of our SMEs, and – like Virgin StartUp – the Scottish Government is committed to supporting a diverse and vibrant entrepreneurial culture through Scotland CAN DO.
“It is unacceptable that people struggle to access sanitary products and I am encouraged to see the success of a company like Hey Girls, which shares our ambition to make free products easily accessible to those who need them. We are currently evaluating our pilot project providing sanitary products to low income households in the north east and will then consider the next steps.”
Launched in 2012, Virgin StartUp is the not-for-profit arm of the Virgin Group spearheading the Group’s entrepreneurial philosophy. They provide Government backed loans between £500 and £25,000 to entrepreneurs who work with the VSU team to build robust business plans. As well as finances VSU also recognises the importance of guiding business owners through their infancy years and matches them with a specific business mentor local to them, there are over 700 of these mentors available.
Virgin StartUp launched in Scotland in 2016 and recently celebrated its first anniversary in the country; during that time it has supported 69 businesses with loans and mentoring, but the not-for-profit has ambitions to fund more entrepreneurs than this.