Jobs, Profits & Compassion: Momba, a 21st Century Business

By Heather Duque 

Building Sandcastles - Momba - College Vending Machines - Heather Duque

What we’re trying to do

Before Steven and I knew that we would start Momba, like a lot of new couples, we had a lot of long discussions about our lifetime goals. We also talked a lot about the challenges young people face in today’s economic environment and potential solutions to move our country forward. Our beliefs and goals — and so, the company we’ve started — have a lot to do with who we are and how we were raised.

Dream Big - Momba - College Vending - Heather Duque

Where we’re coming from

We both come from families where dreaming big was encouraged and hard work was practiced. Steven and I are both extremely hard workers, and we believe that, with enough hard work, anything is possible for us to achieve.

We also come from families where compassion for others was encouraged. My grandmother, a young girl during the Depression, told me that her mother always gave food to hungry women and men who asked her for help, knowing what it was like to be in need herself.

Compassion - Momba - College Vending - Heather Duque

My mother and father donated to charity when they could, and taught me to always deal fairly with others. Steven was similarly brought up to respect others, to believe in human potential, and to give to those in need. A telling story from early on in our relationship: one of our first dates was preparing and serving lunch to homeless guests at a church in Boston.

This is why, when we set out to start up Momba, we agreed to strive to build a business that creates jobs and opportunities for students and recent graduates, is socially conscientious, and is profitable. No small task—and yet, as Momba has evolved, we believe that the business we are building stays to true our values, as well as our business objectives.

What we’re doing

Dove Soap - Momba - College Vending - Heather DuqueFirst, we sourced high quality products from leading brands such as Dove, Old Spice, and Aveeno, as well as natural and organic brands such as EO and GrabGreen. Our litmus test? Only sell products from Momba machines that we would use ourselves.

Student Entrepreneur - Momba - College Vending - Heather DuqueThen, we decided to engage promising young entrepreneurial stars at colleges as Momba Student Entrepreneurs.

Enabling socially-minded students to make money while driving sales and developing practical business skills and credentials has become a defining characteristic of both our mission and business model.

Share Profits - Momba - College Vending - Heather Duque

We also decided to share our profits with a donation to financial aid programs at the colleges that host Momba machines, believing that sharing profits with financial aid at schools makes us different from the typical college vendor.

We believe in making higher education more accessible to students, which aligns with our belief in creating a business that benefits students on multiple levels.

Where we are going

We are looking into ways to support our local community through employing local people to assist us with Momba’s packaging and distribution. For example, we are working with Opportunity Works, a not-for-profit organization that empowers people with developmental disabilities through working opportunities. As we grow, we will continue to seek out partnerships with socially progressive organizations and brands.

Finally, we are a business that has a clear path to generating revenue and profits. Ultimately, it’s our revenue generation and profitability that will enable us to grow, make larger donations to schools and their financial aid programs, and hire more people to assist us in attaining Momba’s mission to improve students’ quality of life.

Einstein - Explain Simply - Momba - College Vending - Heather Duque

Who we are

The beauty of Momba’s business model lies in its simplicity. Albert Einstein said: “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Too often, business models are overly complex: too difficult to explain, understand, and execute.

Our business model is simple; how we execute it is what will make us successful. To that end, our objectives are:

  1. To be best-in-class in our approach to products and packaging, customer service and experience, and community engagement and social impact;
  2. To generate profit and, hence, greater contributions to schools from selling products from Momba machines across the Northeastern universities, eventually expanding to other regions;
  3. To broaden Momba’s sources of revenue through e-commerce solutions and direct relationships with socially-minded brands.

The road ahead

Open Road - Momba - College Vending - Heather DuqueBy bringing Momba machines to campuses, we are improving the students’ quality of  life by giving them 24/7 access to dorm essentials conveniently and safely. By building a business that offers college students opportunities to earn and learn, we are helping budding leaders in business finance their educations, prepare for the next stages in their professional lives and make a positive impact on their communities. Through relationships with organizations (and brands) like Opportunity Works, we are strengthening our community and helping socially-minded organizations achieve their aims. Finally, through sharing our profits with financial aid programs, we are helping students get the education that they deserve.

Steven and I (not to mention Momba!)  are looking forward to the future. We hope we’ll have your support, and are looking forward to working with you to improve students’ quality of life and make education more accessible!

Heather Duque is co-founder & CFO of Momba. Connect with Heather and Momba on Facebook. Follow Momba on Twitter

  • Bryan McGlynn

    Great post! I have the upmost respect for Momba, as well as, your vision, mission, and goals. If I can assist or help you in anyway, please let me know. You have a truly unique organization that is very valuable to our community!