Today, I am speaking with Malaysian entrepreneur Anja Juliah Abu Bakar who is the founder of Athena Holdings Sdn Bhd (formerly Blubear Holdings Sdn Bhd), a social enterprise that sells washable cloth pads and other earth-friendly products.
Her journey as an entrepreneur has many twists and turns, some hilarious and others quite heartbreaking. In this interview, she also talks about what it means to be a social enterprise and what shifted the balance for her in her entrepreneurial life.
The idea behind Anja’s business is about reducing period poverty issues while educating women and girls on safe and earth-friendly menstrual hygiene practices.
Having one’s period shouldn’t be the reason why rural girls drop out of school and lose out on education. This is where Anja’s products come in to enable girls to reach their full potential.
It’s not just about the girls; it’s also about being kinder to the earth.
It’s also about paying attention to how we dispose of period products, materials used, cultural beliefs and challenges related to discreetly washing and drying period products so that we can live a healthier, sustainable lifestyle.
I enjoyed speaking to Anja because as you will hear, she is one persistent woman.
Initially, her business arose out of a curiosity to earn an income but eventually, she made a mission out of the business although she could not sew!
She never gave up despite criticism and negative feedback.
She tells an interesting story of how she managed to secure a sale in Paris and that trip, which she didn’t even have the money for, transformed her business.