As an organisation that gives support to any social enterprise that wants to expand internationally, the International Social Enterprise Observatory (ISEO) were delighted to host Hey Girls on a webinar in 2022 where they discussed their journey to internationalisation and offered some hints and tips on what steps you need to take to get there.
Hey Girls, is an award-winning buy-one, donate-one social enterprise, creating plant-powered period products that fund the fight to end period poverty in the UK and Australia.
After the webinar, Hey Girls produced this blog to document their journey.
Having been recognised as Social Enterprise of the Year 2022, Hey Girls is extremely proud of the success we’ve had since launching in 2018. With almost 30 million period products donated to people facing period poverty, we have internationalised our business model to end period poverty in the UK and Australia.
As a female founded and family run business, the most natural direction for internationalisation saw us expand into Sydney where Celia’s eldest daughter and Hey Girls co-founder Bec Lovely resides.
As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, you would be shocked to learn that 1 in 5 Australians are living in period poverty, a statistic that is likely to have increased since the pandemic and destructive flooding across the country.
What Hey Girls Learned When Expanding into Australia
Internationalising your social enterprise can be a challenging but extremely rewarding experience. To be able to take learnings from all your current business experiences leading up to this point, your original launch essentially acts as a business model that can be refined and redirected as you understand the market you are moving into.
So with that in mind, here are six things that helped us to internationalise our business:
1. Research Your Target Audience
Researching your new target audience and understanding their values is essential as this will impact every decision you make. Seeing a viable opportunity to make an impact in Australia, we commenced research with socially conscious consultancy company FreshSight to understand the Australian market in more detail and investigated legal support from local lawyers to learn more about the processes involved with setting up a new company and Australian legal structures. Their support, along with appointed accountants meant we could set up bank accounts for business to start trading.
2. Harness the Passion of Your Existing Team, and Make Use of Local Talent in Executive and Board Positions
Having a dedicated and passionate team who are flexible to the different directions your business moves in is crucial, especially if you are dealing with time differences or not being able to meet face to face with people due to physical location limitations.
Confident we could deliver on brand and purpose; we established a selection of mentors in the form of managing directors and social enterprise directors from other businesses for good. We also employed board members from various business sectors within Australia as local insight into where our company could make the most impact was essential to our expansion plans.
3. Make Sure Your Brand Message and Products Work in Your New Target Market
We evaluated our brand message and product offering for our new target market and absorbed what was important to Australians when making purchasing decisions. With a redefined brand image, our next steps were trademarking our company name and logos, registering IP and building a website that efficiently explains everything that we offer.
Using the experience, we have gained in the UK, we refined our target audience even further to focus on business to business and sector sales as well as government contracts and council projects. This has given us a strong focal point to gain customers and case studies before expanding into other areas.
4. Adapt Resources to Fit the Local Environment
Fulfilling Hey Girls promise of free education as well as access to products saw us adapt our resources to localise language, content and style. This is another example of how essential it is to understand your audience when internationalising as considerations around remote access, digital divides and cultural beliefs could play a factor in how you expand.
5. Make Sure You Think About How to Source Stock Locally, and Adapt Prices if You Need to Import from the UK
Stock and logistics have been our biggest learning experience and something we continue to discuss as we internationalise. Sourcing new suppliers this early into expansion is not ideal so our focus turned to building brand awareness to increase sales to account for ever changing shipping fees.
6. Get On the Ground Yourself
Being able to speak directly to businesses, councils and other social enterprises during our team visit to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne this summer, led to several opportunities and reinforced where Hey Girls Australia should focus its efforts.
Internationalisation can be challenging, but we think the key is to remind yourself that by internationalising your company, you’re making an impact to so many more communities and once you have your first customer or case study, the rest will follow.
Thank you to Celia Hodson and Alice Hunnibell for contributing this blog. If you’d like to learn more about Hey Girls please visit their website at this link here.
If this has inspired you to begin your own journey towards internationalisation, learn more about what we do and get in touch today here.