The Fusion Hub promotes sustainable living in Fiji by upcycling waste materials into high-end furniture and home decor, and providing training and employment opportunities for women and youth alongside this. With their primary business customers, namely hotels, significantly impacted by the border closures at the start of the pandemic, the Fusion Hub saw their projects paused and needed to find a way to build their resilience. Founder Sagufta Salma set out to find ways in which to diversify her business model to continue to offer employment opportunities as well as support Fijians and the environment more broadly.
She observed a change in consumer behaviour at the beginning of the pandemic, including bulk buying of hygiene and food products leading to an increased amount of plastic waste. In response to this, Sagufta came up with an idea for a pay forward, subscription-based model called Zero Waste Hub where Fijians can purchase staple products in bulk without excessive amounts of plastic packaging and have these delivered directly to them. The Hub focuses on environmentally friendly consumer products (e.g. sustainable toothbrushes, cloth based sanitary pads and nappies, reusable menstrual cups, eco-friendly cleaning products), which they primarily source from women small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). They are also developing their own range of products (e.g. coconut flour and shampoo bars) that they have started training women in communities to make and supply to them, thereby creating further employment.
Through the program, Sagufta and her team were able to test this new model and performed a soft launch that saw them sell out of all of their supplies in just 6 hours, selling to 109 individual homes, making $4000 and showcasing the demand for their products. They were able to assess the products that met a market need and can be profitable, and that would align with their overall mission and vision. In a short amount of time they’ve been able to create increased income for 4 women-led businesses as part of their supply chain. They have also trialled importing menstrual cups, which sold out quickly, receiving positive feedback as a more dignified and discrete option than reusable pads for period management.
Sagufta says that participating in the SFI Response Program has equipped her with the skills to make strategic, calculated business decisions and has supported her in diversifying her income streams and increasing her impact. Within the program, she was able to hire two new staff members and has now officially launched her new venture in the market.
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