Of its 34.6M inhabitants, approximately 50% of Uganda’s population is women. Of these women, over 60% are below the age of 25. At the age of 9, many begin puberty and their monthly menstrual cycle, which persists until their late 40’s or early 50’s. Over 10M Ugandan women currently experience this cycle, and each of them needs at least 1 pack of 10 sanitary pads, valued at approximately US$1 every month.
However, because over 70% of Uganda’s population lives on less than a dollar a day, it is virtually impossible for most women to afford a consistent supply of pads at current pricing and distribution channels. It is estimated that less than 5% of the girls and young women who need a regular supply of sanitary pads can afford them. Lack of access to sanitary pads has contributed greatly to the disempowerment and disgrace of many young girls who are often unfairly subjected to judgment by a society that perceives menstruation as a socially undignified act.
To save themselves from shame and at times social exclusion, most young girls in rural areas will do anything to stop the blood flow, from using leaves and hides to rags and newspapers, consequently exposing themselves to a myriad of infections related to poor hygiene. The most destitute individuals don’t use anything at all and opt to isolate themselves from school and society altogether. This is further perpetuated by the fact that most rural schools have meager sanitation facilities, access to water, toilets, and waste facilities, which are all necessities for girls going through their cycles.
BanaPads through partnership with existing community structures in overlooked communities in Uganda, mobilizes and organizes economically disadvantaged in/out of school adolescent girls’ (8-19) and women (20+) into Self Help Groups mini-factories (each with 30 members) to locally manufacture and distribute their own high-quality feminine hygiene products to secure their own livelihoods and address menstruation-related absenteeism.
Each Self Help Group Mini Factory is provided with Bana’s tried and tested technologically innovative machinery, raw materials synthesized from non-toxic cellulosic locally abundant agricultural wastes “banana pseudostems”, business and production skills training, “business in a bag” marketing and brand support.
BanaPads’ business-in-a-box solution also hosts women’s and girl’s health and advocacy workshops, which are safe spaces for women and girls to discuss issues affecting them and access information that is both reliable and factually accurate.
How to get involved
Help BanaPads prove that social entrepreneurship presents a viable business and investment return – by backing their business model. Get involved and help them scale their model and as a result positively impact the lives of women and girls throughout overlooked communities in Uganda.
A set up of a BanaPads Self Help Group mini-factory in an overlooked community in Uganda guarantees that a minimum of 30 women are employed 10hrs/day, 22 Work Days/Month, trained in small business management and can generate their own income (100,000/= per month an opportunity to earn they didn’t have before).
Up to 5,000 women and girls in the surrounding communities of a BanaPads Self Help Group mini-factory can access monthly an affordable and biodegradable sanitary product 1800/= per pack of 10 pads and safe space (1 hour a week for in-school girls; 4 hours a week for out-of-school girls and women) to discuss issues affecting them and access information that is both reliable and factually accurate.