Australia’s top ten women entrepreneurs: Monica Meldrum, founder of Whole Kids

 

 

Prior to establishing Whole Kids, Monica founded Marketing Communications company MEC Admark in Jakarta Indonesia, established her own consultancy in Sydney advising companies including Goldman Sachs, Telecom NZ, Interaust and Globecast Australia on Business Strategy, and held senior roles in Marketing and Communications with Boral, Cable & Wireless Optus and Cement Australia.

 

Following an extensive corporate career, in early 2000 Monica was fortunate to travel to Indonesia with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to deliver an aid program to children living in poverty. The experience challenged her assumptions about the meaning of success and how she could make a greater contribution with her life. At the time, Monica vowed to make a difference to children’s health.

 

On returning to Australia and witnessing food related illnesses amongst children and an abundance of over processed, heavily marketed children’s foods, Monica launched Whole Kids.

 

Whole Kids has since grown to become Australia’s largest range of certified organic, additive free and allergen-friendly snacks for kids, the proceeds of which are funding kids health and environment projects nationally, through Whole Kids Small Seeds Community Grants Program.

 

Whole Kids was the first Food Company in Australia to be certified a B Corporation and in doing so is committed to creating a healthy life and a healthy world for kids.

 

In recognition of her sound business strategy and great vision for the future of Whole Kids, Monica was awarded 2015 St George Banking Group Ausmumpreneur of the Year. Monica was also awarded Emerging Entrepreneur 2013 by NAB Women’s Agenda Leadership awards for her innovation, leadership and a strong commitment to creating change for the future. In 2016 Monica was listed by Westpac and Australian Financial review as one of the top 100 women of influence in Australia.

 

2018/19 has been a huge year for Monica being awarded Australian Small Business Champion Entrepreneur and Whole Kids being listed by Westpac in the top 20 of their 200 Businesses of Tomorrow program as well as scooping the top spot of business of the year at the Australian 2019 Organic excellence awards.

 

Monica has a background in Communications with a Bachelor of Commerce and Marketing, an MBA in International Management (to which she is the youngest to ever be accepted) as well as a Master of Commercial Law. She was awarded two separate scholarships for her studies.

 

In addition Monica has over 15 years experience in the health and fitness Industry. She is a fully accredited Personal Trainer/Group fitness instructor, and an accredited Indonesian Translator and Interpreter with the National Association for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).

 

She is also a mum to two wonderful kids of her own!

 

 

Nominee’s three achievements

 

  1. Being a business with purpose and providing 500,000 breakfasts to school children in Cambodia.

 

Whole Kid’s founder Monica Meldrum is on a mission to use purpose and passion to help make it easier for Mums and Dads to create a happy, healthy life for their kids through the organic snacks her business creates.

 

This conscious, values-based and purpose-driven business is using the power of business to help solve important social and/or environmental issues that are important to Monica and Whole Kids customers.

 

As the first organic business in Australia to become a certified B-Corporation, Monica is continually finding ways to use the business as a force for good. One of her businesses biggest achievements in this regard is their charity partnership with Plan International.

 

Together with Plan International, over the last 2 years Whole Kids has contributed 500,000 breakfasts to the School feeding Program in Cambodia. For these children a nutritious start to the day can often mean the difference between staying in school or dropping out.

 

The program does far more than provide meals, it also develops school gardens, provides scholarships and take-home rations allowing children, who would otherwise be forced to work to feed their families, the opportunity to receive the education they require.

 

The project has become a benchmark for educating girls and helping communities around the world become self-sustaining.  It has created an impact in the lives of these children that will continue to benefit the community for generations.

 

  1. Helping to lead the organic industry in Australia to bring organic to more families.

 

Monica is coming in to her 14th year in business with Whole Kids and is still achieving new wins for the business and the organic market. The latest in 2018 being named in the Westpac Top 20 Businesses of Tomorrow in Australia which recognises businesses with the vision and drive to help shape the nation’s economic future.

 

In 2019 Whole Kids were awarded Organic Business of the Year by Australia’s leading organic certification body Australian Certified Organic. Monica has guided Whole Kids to hold their market status as the largest organic children’s food range in Australia enabling them to grow the organic children’s market in new ways into mainstream channels.

 

Having had product certified with Australian organic for 13 years now, Meldrum’s business is thoroughly immersed in the organic community and are strong advocates for organic lifestyles. They work hard on clear messaging to de-mystify organic products to consumers who are new to organic foods. Monica is a public supporter of Australian Awareness  Month and uses her public profile to discuss the importance of our organic certification and the rise of organic food in general at public speaking engagements and networking events.

 

3.Taking on ‘Big Food’ marketing and championing children health.

 

Monica’s business is the only Australian Owned, female led company within their category. A business that is based on a strong set of values.

 

At the heart of what Whole Kids do is to make a positive contribution to kids’ health and the environment. Monica really does believe that business is perfectly placed to solve many of the social and environmental problems of the world and she has an obligation to come up with solutions to problems within their industry.

 

One of Monica’s biggest challenges is overcoming the marketing tactics of big junk food brands who contract up customers by offering large incentives for exclusive supply. Huge advertising budgets of these brands means Whole Kids must think smarter and act differently to get their voice heard.

 

A game changer for Monica and her business came when she received an invitation from Qantas to present her products following a barrage of complaints they had received about the sugar-laden alternatives being served on their children’s meals.

She presented the range to the catering team and after a brief introduction, the discussion very quickly moved to price. The head of catering explained that Whole Kids was up against a very large confectionary brand who supplied products at cost, treating this purely as a marketing opportunity. When asked what she was prepared to offer she talked to them about what this opportunity meant not only for her business, but for Qantas, to be serving healthy alternatives to the thousands of parents and kids that travelled with them each year. As a small business, there was no way we could compete on price, but the brand and what it stood for was so aligned with the Qantas philosophy “to Champion the Spirit of Australia”. By supporting Whole Kids, they would be doing just that.

 

Not only did Qantas range the products on all domestic and international flights, but they featured Whole Kids as part of inflight television, supported us through free editorial and interviewed us on business radio. They had won one for the good guys!

 

Whole Kids

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