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Breast milk start-up business for working mothers is thriving in Siberia

By Natalya Kobets
23 August 2013

You want to breast feed as long as possible, but you also need to work to make ends meet.

'We started from advertising via mothers' forums', Marina said. 'At some of the the service sparked furious debates over whether it was the right thing to do. Picture: 'Sphere of influence' magazine, Krasnoyarsk 

It's a dilemma faced by women all over the world. 

Each day, a Siberian company is busy shuttling freshly-expressed milk collected from the offices or factories of working mothers back to grannies or child minders looking after their babies. The children get all the goodness of milk and the mothers are not left with the debilitating guilt that can come from not being able to feed their little ones. 

The milk deliveries is a development of the core business of a company called Mother's Happiness, set up by 26 year old Marina Ferapontova in the city of Krasnoyarsk. As a young mother, she had spotted a gap in the market for delivering samples of urine, saliva, and sometimes blood to hospitals for moms and their infants. 

It was a tragedy facing one of her clients that gave Marina the idea about milk deliveries. 

'A young woman's husband suddenly died just one month after she gave birth to her child,' she recalls. 'Grieving, she also had no option but to go back to work to support herself and her baby. She was not allowed to take her baby to the office and yet understandably she desperately wanted to keep breastfeeding her child. For a while, she was pumping the milk and sending it back home with a taxi - and then she asked my company if we were able to assist her'.

Marina agreed at once and also researched the logistics of such a service and previous international experience of offering milk deliveries to career women who cannot afford to take off the time to be with their new-born children. 

'Here in Krasnoyarsk a pack of formula milk costs about 300 roubles ($9) per pack, and we charge for a breast milk delivery 200 roubles ($6) - and still there is demand. Women try to prolong the breastfeeding for as long as they can, and if they have to work, this is their way of earning and being closer to their child, and keeping him or her healthier, since the formula milk can't compete with breast milk

breast milk delivery

As simple as that? Breast milk start-up business for working mothers is thriving in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia.  Picture: 'Sphere of influence' magazine 

'We started from advertising via mothers' forums', Marina said. 'At some of the the service sparked furious debates over whether it was the right thing to do.  But this actually only helped us because some 70 mothers came to us as clients after reading these debates, and 39 of them stayed with us. Then the information about us spread around the web, and I started getting calls from people asking how to start this kind of business.'

It became clear she had tapped a desperate need for her grateful clients. 

'It made me urgently draw franchise offer for potential partners,' says Marina. 'Three months after we started the breast milk delivery service we had franchisees in other cities in Siberia - Irkutsk and Chita, and further afield in Russia, for example Yekaterinburg and Pskov, as well as phone calls coming from Moscow.'

For her there is huge satisfaction in meeting the needs of mothers, and helping to let them be more fulfilled in their lives. She began Mother's Happiness, a name that precisely reflects her aim, soon after she became pregnant with her son Kirill, now three. 

'I felt the flaws of the system for pregnant mothers very soon after my pregnancy began,' she recalls. 'When my son was born I realised that new mothers feel even more insecure. Many of them are less mobile and even a simple trip to the clinic with the baby becomes a big deal. 

'In Russia, doctors ask for quite a number of visits to the clinic to make blood, urine and other tests, yet for some of them you don't actually need to be at the clinic - but someone needs to send the samples to the laboratory. So I thought why not to arrange for the delivery of the samples? Surely there will be enough pregnant women who would pay and save themselves the hassle?'

As with all great ideas, some mocked or anyway doubted her.  

'They felt this idea was not serious - but we very quickly got a database of clients: pregnant women, parents who needed to send their children's analyses to the laboratory and also people who were recovering at home after surgeries. They were  the majority of our clients.

'We started the service in test mode in the autumn of 2012. For a time, I processed the orders and by March 2013 we had courier service fully equipped and ready to serve all of our city of one million people. Now we have 14 people, 13 of whom are delivering medical analyses.  One is working on the breast milk delivery.'

Marina is now fielding calls from all around Russia on her franchises. They cost 80,000 roubles ($2425), plus we take a 5,000 rouble ($150) monthly fee for creating a web page and keeping a domain name on our 24happy.ru portal. 

'We help our franchisees to get the business going, sort services like IP telephony and assist in other issues. My own expenses were some 20,000 roubles ($605), mostly for the purchase of thermal bags for the breast milk delivery and special bags to deliver laboratory tests. 

'We are busy with analyses in the mornings since they are only accepted by laboratories before 9 am, and then we have two 'waves' of breast milk deliveries, from 11 am until 1 pm and from 2 pm to 4 pm. Before and after this the moms are at home to feed the babies'.

Comments (2)

disgusting.
roberto, spain
02/09/2013 20:54
0
1
wow. I can totally see the need for this.Unusual but very necessary. Bravo from me
Mao Oliver-Semenov, Krasnoyarsk
23/08/2013 22:21
5
0
1

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