Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Saturday, Mar 02, 2024

Hong Kong-based femtech founder fights ‘period poverty’ across Asia

Hong Kong-based femtech founder fights ‘period poverty’ across Asia

Olivia Cotes-James founded Luüna Naturals, one of Hong Kong’s first, and biggest, femtech companies, which has worked with offices and schools to dispense free menstrual products to over 300,000 users.

Olivia Cotes-James founded one of Hong Kong’s first femtech companies, Luüna Naturals, in 2019 after a decade of navigating troubling menstrual symptoms.

After building her start-up into one of the city’s biggest femtech players, she turned her attention to eradicating period poverty – the lack of access to menstrual products – across Asia, work which in 2021 landed her on the Forbes 30 under 30.

As an early-stage start-up, Cotes-James raised over US$1 million in seed funding between 2019 and 2021 through individual investors from Hong Kong and Shanghai.

“Finding them was not easy,” she said. “I was a first-time founder with no traction, I do not have the knowledge and certainly not the network.”

Olivia Cotes-James, founder of menstrual health brand Luüna Naturals.


She met a lot of resistance from investors of both genders, because the topic is so stigmatised. “A lot of the people we were pitching to never had someone walk into a room and talk about something that was so awkward, so that was very challenging,” she said.

Funding secured, the company developed eco-friendly sanitary pads made from organic cotton and got them onto shelves in major supermarkets across Hong Kong. However, Cotes-James wanted more.

“We had some really good early success, but the experience people have when it comes to menstruation at workplaces and schools has always been a point of interest for me,” she said.

“Institutions were focusing on mental and physical health, but menstrual health was still being ignored. So in 2019, we took an institution-first approach to tackling menstrual stigma.”

For the past four years, Luüna has worked with offices and schools to dispense free menstrual products in washrooms, reaching over 300,000 users across Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan and Singapore.

Companies Luüna works with include UBS, Visa and Bloomberg.

Education is also an important part of their work to eradicate stigma.

The company holds workshops in schools, communities and workplaces to encourage conversation about menstrual health and equity, engaging both men and women in these discussions.

A Luüna Naturals menstrual products dispenser inside a bathroom.


Over the last few years, Luüna has been the first in its markets to knock on the doors of organisations asking to speak with human-resources leaders or other decision-makers about the topic of menstrual health, Cotes-James said.

“You’re also carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders when you’re the first one to start these conversations,” she said. “It’s been tough, especially during Covid when new initiatives were not the priority.”

In March, Luüna received B Corp Certification, which means it meets high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.

With menstrual health being one of the fastest growing sectors in the femtech industry – the number of menstrual health start-ups in Southeast Asia doubled in the past year – Cotes-James welcomes the competition as it helps to keep her and her people “on their toes”.

Cotes-James was recently chosen as the East Asia Fellow for the Cartier Women’s Initiative 2023, which celebrates female entrepreneurs worldwide. She told the Post over a phone call from the UK that she is excited not only about what’s to come in the femtech scene in Hong Kong but also about building a greater network across Asia.

“I met so many players at the Women’s Health Innovation Summit in Singapore recently, and being in the same room as them was really inspiring, to talk about the challenges we face as an industry,” she said. “There is strength in numbers.”

Hong Kong needs to develop its femtech community, Cotes-James said.

We don’t have a specific kind of femtech community, but there are people working to change that, to make sure Hong Kong has its own ecosystem around femtech,” she said. “How long will that take to scale up I’m not sure, but it’s happening.”

Newsletter

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
0:00
0:00
Close
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
×