Meet Joanna the CEO and Co-founder of Kasha .
Joanna started her career at Microsoft, and then at Gates Foundation,later started Kasha. The mission driving Kasha is that no girl or woman in all social economic levels in urban and rural areas should be prevented from accessing,affordable,quality healthcare products.The enterprise started by solving the very discrete problem around girls and women by accessing quality and affordable sanitary products which can cause long-standing societal issues like drop outs,in case not provided.
Q:What inspired you to start kasha shortly after having your second born? Or being an entrepreneur is notoriously difficult and startups are no joke…what made you think now is the time to start one just a few months after having your second child?
Ans:Becoming a mother has made me a stronger, more purpose-driven person. When my first child was born, I decided to leave the corporate technology industry to work on technology in global development. The birth of my son made me question what I was spending my life doing. I asked myself: “I will tell him that he can change the world and make it a better place. But will I be able to show him that this can be a reality? Or will he just see that life is about working, climbing the corporate ladder and making money?”
When my 2nd child was born, I left global development to start Kasha. By then I had been traveling and working in East and West Africa and South Asia for several years. The frustration of seeing that girls don’t get the menstrual care products they need to go to school each day, that women don’t get the birth control they need to help manage their lives, and the many issues that women face in trying to meet their most basic health needs, was to me unacceptable. With the birth of my daughter, it affected me even more deeply. As a mother, I deeply understand that each mother and parent wants their daughter to be able to live their best life possible, with nothing holding them back. I believe these are solvable issues so the drive and passion to do something to make this world a better place for women and girls is what led to starting Kasha when my daughter was less than 1 year old. In fact, the company is named after my daughter.
Q:Does mom guilt ever go away?
Ans:This is a hard one! I think women naturally feel a deeper need to nurture and comfort their children, so when a working mother has to travel, work long hours or do something for herself, the mom guilt inevitably sets in (at least it does for me!). Even when women mostly stay home to be with the family, they often feel guilt when they take the time to do something for themselves, or spend their money to treat themselves a little. In general, women tend to put others first. This is why the Kasha logo is “Care For You”. It’s a reminder that while we are busy caring for everyone else, we can’t forget to care for ourselves. We are just as important and valuable as the people we care for.
I think the mom guilt gets better with time but it never really goes away, which I think is a good thing! It reminds us of our priorities and what brings us true join in the big picture.
Q.How important is balance and is it really attainable?
Ans: Still working on that one. 😊 I try to achieve work-life integration rather than work-life balance because that seems to work better for me. It’s never an even split and you just have to be aware of it. On the other hand, I love Oscar Wilde’s quote: “Everything in moderation, including moderation”.
You’re currently the only mom on the Kasha team, what advice would you have for the future mom’s/dad’s on the team?
Being a parent does mean that you have generally more demands on your time, and so it’s harder for Moms and Dads to spend more time in the office or at work. In the end, I find that this works itself out. Usually, you learn how to work smarter rather than harder and you gain more of an ability to step back and “see the big picture”. Wherever possible, every morning I have breakfast with my family and dinner with my family, and I try to adjust my work schedule around that. For me, my family is my rock and they keep me poised on what’s important in life both at work and outside of work. My advice: embrace family, because it can make you even more impactful and valuable in your job!
Q:Advise moms on Three ways to practice self love?
1.Trust and respect your intuition.
2.Stand up for what you believe in, and what is important to you.
3.Don’t let perfection hold you back. Know that everything you need you already have
“Becoming a mother has made me a stronger, more purpose-driven person” Joanna Bichsel CEO of Kasha