All my faithful readers know one very important bit of information about me. And that is: I attended the best institution for higher education – Morehouse College. Knowing that should bear no surprise when reading this hot topic. Three graduates of my prestigious alma mater are making news as entrepreneurs. Founder Jason Panda, and co-founders Elkhair Balla and Ashanti Johnson have created B Condoms, the first black owned condom company. Below, you will see an interview I conducted with them on their new product.
Dr. O: Gentleman, thank you for taking the time to explain your new product! Please tell us how you got the inspiration for B Condom.
Jason: The inspiration started with my mother. I called my mom and told her I wanted to do something larger than myself, while helping the community at the same time. Using her background in community health, my mom suggested I consider starting a condom company. She told me that HIV and Aids are wiping us [the black community] out.
Statistics say that African Americans make up 13% of the population but we are 50% of the HIV/Aids community. That’s alarming. After researching the problem, I set out to find a solution. I reached out to Elkhair Balla and Ashanti Johnson. Elkhair had a background in financing, nightlife and entertainment while Ashanti was working at Johnson and Johnson. They loved the idea and we just started working from there…
Dr. O: That’s amazing. Now can you tell us what does your condom company provide that may be different from others?
Elkhair: Our whole approach is socially conscious. We personally know our customers because we ARE our customers. We are young, black men. For example, Trojan’s way of connecting to African Americans is by hiring a rapper (Ludacris) to promote their product. We choose to go out into the community. We visit HBCU campuses with our sponsors like the Magic Johnson Foundation. We make it a personal relationship!
Dr. O: Great point. Now, let me ask you. What is the “B” in B Condoms?
Elkhair: B Condoms is more than a condom company – it’s a movement. We wanted it to be something inclusive. The “B” stands for anything you want to BE. For example, you can be loving, be romantic, be proud, be spiritual, be whatever, just be safe. B Condoms.
Dr O: What is your company’s mission? What is the driving force behind B Condoms?
Jason: B Condoms is cool, sexy, and chic. It is a premium condom line with a social purpose, and that is to decrease the rate of HIV/AIDS with the most at risk. We partner with a lot of community organizations, like Morehouse, Florida A&M, the Red Pump Campaign, Magic Johnson Foundation, Google and more. A certain percentage of our profits gets invested rightback into our community sponsors. That’s how we’re different. If you buy our product, you’re making yourself safe and helping the community. It’s a win-win.
Elkhair: Yes! And we offer our customers an experience. What we’re trying to do is make the condom industry huge. Make it larger than ourselves. The money goes back into the people. You’re helping everyone!
Dr. O: What would you say to people who believe you should be sending messages of abstinence rather than “safe sex”?
Jason: You have to meet people where they are. If people make the decision to have sex, tell them to do it safely. Let’s make this clear, we aren’t selling sex. We’re selling awareness and safety. We can’t ignore the stats! Let people make their decisions and provide them with a way to do it safely.
Dr. O: What is the next step for B Condoms? What are you striving to do next?
Jason: Our company is a lifestyle. In certain ways, our goal is to normalize the condom usage with people of color. Putting on a shirt, putting on shoes, etc – those steps have normalized themselves into our lives. We want to do this! Matching it with a lifestyle that already fits into our culture. The majority of people purchasing condoms are 16 to 24. We want them to start thinking of condom usage as automatic. So our goal is also to help young people understand the importance of condom usage.
Dr. O: Thank you so much. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Jason: Everyone, please follow us on twitter, @bcondoms. Visit our website www.bcondoms.com And if anyone wants to be involved, wants to partner with us or distribute our product, please contact us. We need your help! Thank you!
Kudos to my fellow Morehouse Men! Now we all now it’s spring time….and what happens when people start wearing less clothing. I can’t stress enough how important it is to protect yourself! So let’s have safe sex people and support these young men in their endeavor to help our community…and get tested.