Welcome to episode three of the Fairware Changemaker Series, where we highlight entrepreneurs and thought leaders that constantly inspire us through their passion for using business to better the world. This week we’re featuring Suzanne Siemens and Madeleine Shaw who run Lunapads, a social mission driven business that produces reusable menstrual products.
We had the pleasure of visiting with Suzanne and Madeleine to get a closer look into the world of social entrepreneurship, sustainable business practices and what “Made in Vancouver” is all about.
The Lunapads story began in 1993, as a response to health and environmental concerns around disposable menstrual products. Madeleine had a desire to a solve a problem for her personal needs which grew into something that would eventually change the lives of others.
In 1999, Suzanne joined Lunapads and brought with her a wealth of experience and expertise. They took the business from mass distribution to an e-commerce platform while using business practices as a tool for social change. Over the years the company has grown, now doing business in over 40 countries and diverting over 2 million pads from the landfills.
Lunapads is led by value based practices that create positive change in the world, and this inspired direction has not gone unnoticed. Lunapads recently received awards and accolades through EY Entrepeneur of the Year, a testament to years of hard work and staying the course.
It’s about taking a position of leadership and influence and using that to inspire others to think about a social change that you care deeply about. – Suzanne Siemens
Using social impact as a business metric has resulted in numerous initiatives such as One4Her. Through collaboration and sharing of intellectual property, they have been able to address issues in the global south. Lunapads has used its business to help competitors such as AFRIpads sell and produce pads.
Today AFRIpad employs over 150 people and provides 1 million girls in the global south with menstrual products. Every eligible product you purchase at Lunapads provides a student in need with a Uganda-made AFRIpad to support her education. One for you. One for her.
To be a social entrepreneur you have to deliver good value in addition to running a financially strong business. Lunapads has achieved both by having a balance between lofty impact goals and running a practical business. These pillars are further introduced through their manufacturing facility, where we saw firsthand what “Made in Vancouver” is all about.
Don’t hold back, keep going. It’s not easy, but feeling motivated by social impact or environmental value will keep you moving forward. Stay focused on that! – Madeleine Shaw
At Lunapads, being a Changemaker means not just leading with impact, but also being part of a community and enrolling others in that idea to educate and inspire. Mentor groups such as the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, Social Venture Institute and SheEO have been vital. It’s about being as inclusive as possible.