Meet the Team: Akanksha

Hi there! My name is Akanksha, I’m 25 years old and I’m the new Official Blogger for Words With Heart. I am from India and that is where I have been throughout my life until I came to Australia. I am an electronics engineer and have worked in a multinational manufacturing firm in India for 3 years. I wanted to study further and gain an international exposure, and that’s why I headed for Australia.

The reason behind me wanting to get associated with Words of Heart is the social cause that drives the business. The idea of linking the business with a social cause related to women and girls is what appealed to me the most. I have been a part of such projects back home and it gave me immense joy to contribute towards something that I strongly believe in.

I come from a family that has always supported me in whatever decisions I have made for myself. I was always encouraged to study and be independent in every way. However, not all girls in India are as fortunate. In India, a few states are still struggling with the problem of gender inequality in terms of literacy. According to 2011 global census, the male literacy rate is 92% and with girls it is 87%. However in India, the statistics are 82.14% for males and 65.46% for females. This is a clear demonstration of the inequality that still exists in the society. To me, women education is in direct proportion with women empowerment. Education is not luxury, but a very basic level need. Education guarantees power and independence to females. With education comes both financial and mental independence, both of which I believe are very important in a society that is male dominant. Education helps us make right choices for ourselves.

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Also, girls who are not entitled to attend schools and attain basic level education are forced to get married at a young age. Besides this, a highly unfair practice of dowry exists in the Indian society. Uneducated females cannot even retaliate to this as they feel this is the only way out. Educated females, on the other hand, are strongly against such practices. They consider themselves as equals and are looked upon with respect in the society. Education, therefore, is every girl’s right. When women earn for themselves, they are not looked upon as someone who are always to be taken care of which in turn changes the outlook of people towards them. In a nutshell, each girl deserves to be educated. It is every girl’s right. Educating girls will add to the development of the society and a nation, in large.

I am fortunate to get an opportunity with Words of Heart through which I will get a chance to express myself on a public portal. I am eager to share some great content with you, interviews and Words With Heart news. This is a cause that is close to my heart and I am looking forward to enjoying every bit of this journey!

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We’ve got some BIG news…

So – we’ve got pretty big announcement to make. Something we’ve been working on behind the scenes here at Words With Heart for quite a while. A huge, exciting change that’s going to ensure our impact for women’s and girl’s education is bigger and better than we orginially imagined. OK – enough build up – here we go!

As many of you would know, when we launched Words With Heart as part of the ING Direct Dreamstarter campaign back in September last year, we did so with the idea that we would donate 50% of net profits to our partner charities working to empower women and girls through education. The 50% model is one that I have seen work well for other social enterprises before, and when planning the business model for Words With Heart it was the one that I thought would work best, too. But – after the successful launch of our campaign, a few things happened that made us reassess this and evolve into something shiny and new.

The first thing that happened was that we had a big, big retail partner approach us. When I first got the call, I was overwhelmed with excitement and terror. I hadn’t planned for this in the immediate future for Words With Heart! I thought it was waaaayyy down the track for us. I was (and continue to be!) dizzy at the thought of what this opportunity could do for the women’s and girls education projects we support.

We started to crunch the numbers and look at the required stock volumes, and one thing became obvious – when working with big retail partners, they command a much larger portion of your profits. And considering the kind of volumes they offer and the platform they bring, that’s totally understandable. But – it meant that the impact a customer would have every time they purchased a Words With Heart product would be considerably less than we’d imagined. 50% of that net profit would also be much less than what we would generate through sales via our online store, and so it would be really difficult for us to measure in an honest, transparent way exactly how much education each stationery sale would fund.

Secondly, after our launch campaign ended, we did some extensive market research with our customers and supporters (you guys!). We began talking widely to many of you and asking your thoughts on Words With Heart – what is it that you love about us, and what could we do better? And the answer came back a few times – ‘I’d love to know just what sort of impact I’m having every time I purchase a Words With Heart  stationery product.’

So, we made the decision to move to a new and improved model. Its what we call an ‘Impact Model’ – every product we sell now funds a set number of education days for women and girls across the world. And in collaboration with our first charity partners – CARE Australia and One Girl (read about them here) – it’s our short-term goal to fund 500,000 education days by 2016.

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We’ve repackaged some of our notebooks to reflect this, and you’ll notice by visiting our online store that it’s now easy to see exactly what kind of meaningful impact you’re making every time you make a purchase with Words With Heart, or one of our stockists.

I look forward to sending some more updates your way in the next few weeks (make sure you’ve signed up to our newsletter via the sign-up form on our footer below!), with more details about the projects we’re supporting with CARE Australia and One Girl, as well as special collaborations and news about new stockists and retail partners.

As always, enormous thanks for your support! Your purchases with us, especially at this early stage, have such a big impact, and are enabling us to not only have an immediate impact for women and girls, but to grow and scale and create big visions of the change we want to create. So we’d love you to check out the online store and stock up on stationery for home, work, Mothers Day, or just-because presents!

Have the happiest of Easters!

Kindest,

Lauren and the Words With Heart team x