Chantelle Baxter & David Dixon
Chantelle Baxter and David Dixon founded One Girl, an organization devoted to women in Sierra Leone. They raise money to educate girls, and have started a venture to sell and distribute low cost, eco-friendly sanitary pads.
“If we look hard enough, we realize that we all make a difference. ”
Success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, just ask Chantell Baxter. With a successful career in web design, and enough money from property investing to buy an apartment at the age of 21, the Melbourne native found that she kept wanting “more.” Yet no matter how she occupied herself; buying expensive clothes, partying every weekend, running a half marathon, she still found herself unfulfilled, and unhappy. It took a trip to Sierra Leone, one of the least developed and most impoverished countries in the world, to give her a new calling.
Back in Melbourne, after talks with her friend David Dixon, the two co-founded an organization called One Girl. Operating in Sierra Leone, One Girl raises funds for girls’ tuition, and runs a social venture, Launchpad, which sells low cost, eco-friendly sanitary pads to women and girls.
This year 150 girls will get to go to school in Sierra Leone because of One Girl. Donations can be made for as little as $20 a month, although they also takes donations of $5000 to set up new education programs for groups of girls. Getting ready for their second year of scholarships, the group is looking to repeat their high retention rates. The program is growing too. “This year we're adding an additional 52 girls to our program,” says Baxter.
Launchpad on the other hand is just getting underway. They’re starting with a research initiative, talking to hundreds of women in Sierra Leone. Sexual health and menstruation are not easy subjects to broach in a country where 90% of women are circumcised, and nearly as many are victims of sexual assault. According to Baxter, the need is acute: “in Sierra Leone, a majority of women don't have a hygienic way of managing their period.” One Girl is currently undergoing trials with biodegradable sanitary pads, and setting up a network of Sierra Leonese women to sell them in their communities.
Baxter’s focus is now pointed less towards her own success, and more towards that of those she’s trying to help: “we had to make sure we selected a product based on the needs of the women, the cultural taboos and the environment.”