Kgoshigadi - Business-in-a-box mini-factories employing rural & township women to manufacture & sell affordable biodegradable sanitary pads.

Kgoshigadi is a social enterprise that sets up factories in poor areas; run & owned by women who make & sell affordable, biodegradable pads.

Photo of Jovana Korac
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name


Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $10k - $50k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 1 - 10

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water

Headquarters location: Country

  • South Africa

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact



Facebook URL

Twitter URL

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

According to UNICEF, 100 Million girls across Africa miss school every month because they cannot afford sanitary pads & prefer to stay at home to avoid the embarrassment of imminent leakage when they use unsafe & unhygenic alternatives such as leaves, socks filled with sand, newspaper, kitchen sponges, rags & even cow dung. Poverty affects women the most, as rural and township women are often uneducated and cannot access formal employment. Our solution creates jobs for these women, and access to affordable pads.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

We use a social franchise model to create jobs and business owners where they are needed most. Due to apartheid's segregationist policies there is a legacy of spatial inequality. Poor people often live far from economic hubs. This means that on average the poorest workers in South Africa often land up spending up to 50% of their income on transport to and from work. We set up our factories in economically destitute areas and erase the need for transport costs altogether as the women walk to the factory and sell within their communities. They build up their client base from people they know. The women sell pads to friends and family, local churches, shops, NGO's, clinics and schools - ensuring access to the pads is widespread. Economic value generated by our factories does not flow out of the community. The fact that our pads are biodegradable mean that they are suited for women who live in communities where "burn or bury" is the primary waste management methodology.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

We have just set up our first pilot site. A single Kgoshigadi mini-factory employs 5 women full time, with an additional 15-20 women acting as distribution agents. Up to 5 000 women and girls in the surrounding communities of a Kgoshigadi mini-factory can supplied with an affordable and eco-friendly sanitary product. We plan to be setting up 3 factories per year for the first two years, and then 6 factories per year for every year thereafter. The average woman creates between 125kg-150kg of feminine product waste over her lifetime; normally this causes serious environmental degradation, as normal pads are not biodegradable. We are partnering with local universities due to a longitudinal study to see link between access to pads and academic performance and attendance.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Franchise License Fees: 25% Sales of Pads and sanitary accessories: 70% Donations: <5%

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Other organisations do what we started doing: collecting and donating pads. This solution is neither scalable nor sustainable. It also creates a dependency mind-set in the beneficiaries. Social franchising allows us the scale to reach as many women and girls. Our pads are biodegradable and disposable ensuring dignity and convenience, that reusable pads do not. Our solution also remains outside the body not compromising cultural taboos about insertion of foreign objects into the body.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

I was 21 & consulting on a project to empower girls with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. I remember being in a large boardroom when I found out about the issue of girls skipping school for one month every week because they cannot afford pads. I remember walking out filled with rage. I spent the next two days researching solutions. A large scale manufacturing plant cost some $1 Million. A sum that was unfathomable to me. Despite not believing charuty to be a sustainable solution, we still felt we needed to do something and decided to do what we could with what we had, and started a charity that would collect and donate pads. A few years later I read about Arunachalam Muruganantham and his innovation that combines job creation with access to pads. We pivoted our model from charity to social enterprise, purchased machinery and installed from India and the rest is history.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others


Join the conversation:

Photo of Fohla

Hello Jovana ! Good work ! Congratulations. Zone question : You say that the pad is biodegradable, can you give some précisions? What are the biomaterials used?

Photo of Jovana Korac

Fohla Thank you so much! We use a cotton over-layer and our core is made from agri-waste from banana farming - we pulverise and process the banana leaves to make a cottonwool-like substance. We're also exploring using hemp and sisal fibre - banana, hemp and sisal fibre are the natural fibres with the highest absorbency rates. Our anti-leakage layer is made from a locally produced bioplastic derived from biopolymers and agricultural biproducts. We are very proud, as this is a 100% South African innovation. You can read more about it here:

Photo of Fohla

Great great great !!! It is amazing ! We launched an R & D project with a similar objective. Let's keep in touche. I hope You will among the winners

Photo of Jovana Korac

Merci Fohla! We are truly humbled by your well wishes.

I am an ardent believer in collaboration and always more than happy to engage. I visited your project site and see you are working with water hyacinth - a material we have also identified, as South Africa, too, struggles with invasive water hyacinth. I would love to discuss your process and findings in more detail, if you would be willing to, of course.

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