AFRIpads joins Business Call to Action by providing access to affordable feminine hygiene products across Africa
Kampala, 10 July 2017 – AFRIpads, a social enterprise that manufactures menstrual hygiene products, has joined Business Call to Action (BCtA) by pledging to provide 1 million reusable sanitary pads each year to low-income communities across Africa by the end of 2020. The company also commits to provide training and employment to 250 low-income people – 80 percent of them women.
Launched in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than USD 8 per day in purchasing power as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In Africa, access to menstrual hygiene products is limited. Conventional disposable sanitary pads are rarely available and when they are, they are costly and cause a lot of waste. Women and girls who can’t afford disposable pads must use rags or newspaper to manage menstruation. This limits women’s mobility and independence. In Uganda, it is one of the reasons girls drop out of secondary school at a much higher rate than boys.
Access to affordable menstrual hygiene products gives women the dignity to become active and productive members of society, yet few companies have stepped in to meet the overwhelming demand for these products in low income communities.
Enter AFRIpads – an East African social enterprise specialized in the local manufacture and global supply of reusable sanitary pads. The company seeks to empower women and girls by making its environmentally-friendly sanitary pads available at an affordable price, and by providing training and employment to approximately 200 women in the manufacture of these life-changing hygiene products.
The company’s inclusive business model was developed by assessing women’s needs and creating a product that is highly absorbent, washable and reusable. Not only does AFRIpads’ reusable design lower cost to a third of disposable pads, it significantly reduced the impact on the environment. To date AFRIpads has prevented 190 million disposable sanitary pads from ending up in the environment.
“AFRIpads has innovated a simple and low-cost women’s hygiene solution that has the potential to change millions of lives,” explained Paula Pelaez, BCtA Programme Manager. “Affordable feminine hygiene products give women the ability study and work freely. These women can become role models for their daughters, and educate them as well. We applaud this company’s vision for women’s empowerment.”
Initially, AFRIpads’ reusable sanitary pads were made available through collaborations with NGOs and humanitarian organizations who provide the pads to hundreds of thousands of refugees and school girls across Africa each year. In 2015, AFRIpads introduced their retail brand, So Sure, to ensure girls and woman can access affordable sanitary pads in their local shops and supermarkets.It has initiated personal story-based marketing campaigns to increase consumers’ awareness of its product and broaden its access to retail outlets. As a result, retail sales of AFRIpads have tripled compared to the previous three years.
According to AFRIpads’ CEO Paul Grinvalds, “research by Oxford University has shown that girls’ school attendance improves when using AFRIpads, and the IFRC found that the incidence of urinary tract infections decreases. Our reusable pads also reduce the impact on the environment compared to disposable products. And since they are locally made, we are able to draw local women without formal education into the workforce and provide them financial security”.
The company will soon begin construction of a 1,700 m2 factory in rural Uganda to centralize its manufacturing operations and increase production to meet growing demand. It has also recently established two new offices in Malawi and Kenya to improve distribution and access in the region.
For further information:
BCtA: Aimee Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org
BCtA membership does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.
About Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development, US Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.
About AFRIpads: AFRIpads Ltd. is a social enterprise that specializes in the local manufacture and global supply of cost-effective, reusable sanitary pads. It aims to provide women and girls with a sustainable solution for managing their periods with comfort and dignity. Based in Uganda, where its products are made “by women, for women, with love”, the company was founded by Paul and Sophia Grinvalds in 2010. While living in a remote village, the couple saw firsthand the need for an affordable and environmentally friendly women’s hygiene solution. With products disseminated through NGOs and direct retail sales, AFRIpads have reached more than 1.5 million girls and women worldwide. For more information about the company, its products and impacts, visit afripads.com.