January 17, 2013
Dustin Leonard, founder of a new condom manufacturing company called HERO, wants to help save lives in Africa. Leonard, a recent graduate of the University of Sydney Business School, plans to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and other parts of the developing world by donating one condom to these areas for every condom sold locally. Leonard explained that HERO condoms are based on a very simple idea: "Having safe sex in Australia could save a life in Africa where the HIV/AIDS epidemic has already claimed millions."
Leonard plans to begin distributing free packs of condoms in Botswana later this month. This condom launch will coincide with the release in Botswana of an HIV/AIDS-related documentary called "Walk the Talk." The film -- produced by Thinkbox Media at the University of Sydney Business School and the Norwegian School of Economics -- focuses on the role that HIV-infected people can play in educating their community.
Leonard states that condoms are a key weapon in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Botswana and other countries in Africa, but there is a stigma associated with their use as well as myths associated with the HIV virus. One of his goals is to make condoms acceptable and readily accessible. He believes that the types of condoms available in Africa contribute to their unpopularity. To make the product more acceptable, Leonard intends that every aspect of HERO condoms will be customized to reflect local preferences, including packaging, foil wraps, size, and thickness.
The company plans to sell approximately 3.5 million condoms in Australia in its first year and match those sales with the free distribution of 3.5 million condoms in Africa. The condoms will be manufactured in Malaysia in an environmentally friendly way from sustainable and natural materials. HERO is also planning to provide antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women, to help prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. Leonard maintains that "it is possible to succeed in business and help people," and that this product will "give Australians a chance to make a difference and help save a life every time they have safe sex."