According to Simarna Singh, co-chief executive officer and chief sustainability officer of Coco Veda, opportunities for women in Asia are lacking. Stereotypes of women belonging in the domestic space and a lack of opportunities to network with decision-makers can make it hard to climb the career ladder.
To help change that, the Singapore-based company employs an all-female operations team in the Philippines to manufacture its 100+ coconut and plant-based health and wellness products.
The products are entirely handmade, waterless and free of alcohol and chemicals. All raw produce comes directly from coconut farmer cooperatives, supporting their livelihoods.
Women at Coco Veda get skills-based training and take ownership of their work.
“We focus on giving our women an opportunity to be breadwinners, to grow their self-esteem, support their kids’ education and upskill themselves,” Simarna said. “They assume active leadership roles, such as recommending what kind of blends we should use in our products.”
In December, Coco Veda also piloted using blockchain technology to track and trace its products. Training workers to use the technology will empower them with “digital identities,” as Simarna describes.
“The blockchain technology will allow us to indicate exactly who made the product,” she said. “In the future, when a customer scans the QR code on our labels, they should be able to see where the item was made, who was involved in producing it and where it is along the logistics process.”
Finding the right partner
Coco Veda’s brand philosophy aligns perfectly with UPS’s goal of supporting women-led businesses.
When UPS was looking for mentors to join its Women Exporters Program, Simarna was a natural choice. Launched in Asia in November 2020, the program is a year-long initiative to support women-led small businesses in exporting their goods digitally.
“We're all working together toward one common goal − to better the lives of women,” Simarna said. “We need to share our knowledge and be each other's support system.”
The program will give women from developing nations opportunities to network and gain invaluable advice from mentors on topics such as social media advertising, product photography, finance and protecting intellectual property.
“With my experience in website development, e-commerce and sustainability measures, I hope to share what I’ve learnt as well as the challenges I’ve faced,” Simarna said.
As Coco Veda’s logistics partner, UPS has played a pivotal role in helping the business navigate global trade. Since 2015, UPS has supported the company in exporting its products from the Philippines to nine international markets.
Just last year, Coco Veda also began a partnership with UPS in Singapore to launch its global e-commerce platform. With UPS Marketplace Shipping automating many shipping and tracking processes, Coco Veda’s products are now shipped to over 80 countries from Singapore and Manila.
“They’ve given us amazing opportunities as a small business to reach global markets we never thought we’d be able to penetrate,” Simarna said.