Entrepreneurship: Ramona Kasavan from Mimi Women on Building a Business Plan
Written by Caroline E. & Edited by Jennifer W
SUMMARY: In addition to building her own menstrual health-oriented business (Mimi Women, based in South Africa), Ramona Kasavan wants to help other entrepreneurs establish their own companies. In an informal video blog (“vlog”) entry, Ramona provides an overview of how to develop a business plan, while also showing how the power of video can be used to share ideas directly between menstrual health innovators.
Ramona Kasavan is the founder and CEO of Mimi Women, a company that manufactures disposable sanitary pads in South Africa. Mimi Women works to produce and deliver their low-cost products to women and girls in lower-income communities within Madagascar, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Kasavan grew up in a small rural town in India where, as a girl, she became familiar with the barriers that prevent women and girls from acquiring menstrual products. After moving to South Africa and discovering similar challenges there, she decided to establish Mimi Women in 2013.
KASAVAN ON BUSINESS PLANS
Kasavan credits Mimi Women’s success partly to the eleven-page business plan that she wrote when the company was founded. In this informal video blog (“vlog”) post, Kasavan focuses on the ways in which building and maintaining a business plan are important to the success of entrepreneurial work.
A business plan is a written document that describes the mission, vision, values, financial plan, and operational objectives of an organization. It can function as a management tool (to track the progress of your business), as a planning tool (to prevent problems before they happen, and to anticipate avenues for future growth), and as a communication tool (to apply for loans, to approach potential business partners, and to keep everyone focused on the vision and plan for the business in the coming years.)
Kasavan suggests that any company – no matter how small – should have a strong business plan, and that time and money will be wasted without one. Along the way, she briefly describes the standard components that business plans usually contain.
The video is short (just 4 minutes, 48 seconds long), and Kasavan does not try to walk viewers through the more complex process of writing a business plan from scratch (for more thorough, written explanations of how to develop a business plan, see this or this).
The focus of the video itself is not specifically on menstrual health-related projects. However, its content is more than likely to inspire MH entrepreneurs, given that it is based on the development of Kasavan’s own sanitary pad-producing business. Additionally, it is likely that actors working in the MH sector will quickly recognize her passion for her work.
Some of Kasavan’s key points about business plans include:
- The importance of combining a passion for projects with the rigorous and nitty-gritty details of building and maintaining a solid foundation for your business.
- The fact that a business plan is oriented around 4 “W”s and an “H”: What are we doing? Why are we doing it? Where are we doing it? With whom are we doing it? How are we doing it?
- The need to identify one’s own individual strengths and challenges as an entrepreneur, while partnering with other individuals who can bring other skills relevant to business plan development.
- The importance of frequently updating business plans as companies change over time.
EXTEND YOUR OWN REACH THROUGH VLOGGING
This video showcases the ability of MH entrepreneurs to help each other do important work across borders.
Moreover, it does so while enhancing “brand equity” for Mimi Women, and showcasing its founder’s ability to be an innovator with useful ideas that can help others in the field.
Anyone reading this post should consider whether they might also have information to share with others doing this work. To do so via video, you just need a smartphone or computer with a video camera, and the ability to upload it to the Internet.
Might you be interested in creating a short (5 – 15 minute) informal video on a topic related to menstrual health-related work? If so, consider sharing 1-4 ideas about one of the following topics:
- Grant writing
- How to apply for a small business loan
- Volunteer and/or staff management
- Effective classroom techniques for MH education
- Working effectively with school administrators
- Common production challenges, and some solutions to these issues
- How to get your products placed and sold in stores
- Negotiating tips for women
- Business mistakes that you have learned from
- Culturally unique aspects of menstrual health in your country
If you do create a video about MH issues, be sure to reach out to IMHER, and we may be able to help to share it with others through our blog and/or digital storytelling listings. We can potentially reblog a post you add to your organization’s site, or we can link directly to a video posted by you on YouTube (see YouTube uploading instructions using a “public” setting) or to many other online video distribution services.