KujaEcoPads

We use locally sourced raw material like banana fibers to make affordable 100% biodegradable sanitary pads for women and girls in Cameroon.

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Eligibility

  • I am not an employee of BNY Mellon, or an immediate family member of a BNY Mellon employee
  • I am over 18 years of age
  • My organization is incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or I have a partner that is incorporated and could accept funds on my behalf
  • I have already piloted my initiative and have some initial evidence of impact

Gender

  • Woman

Where are you making a difference?

We are making a difference in Bamendakwe ,Bali,Bawock, Nkwen,Ntoh local areas and Bojong which are local communities in the North West region of Cameroon. The capital city is called Bamenda

Focus Areas (required)

  • Business & Social Enterprise

Date Started

11/25/2016

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

Budget

  • $10k - $50k

1.Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed.

Growing up as a young girl in Cameroon,I didn't have access to sanitary pads or tampons. I would cut off parts of my foam mattress, or use scraps of clothing. Lack of access to basic menstrual hygiene products cut into my school time and prevented me from attending lessons.I missed a lot of classes, a lot of lectures, and it interfered with my academic performance.  
  More than twenty years after I finished school, Cameroonian schoolgirls continue to face the same challenges when they menstruate. So, I decided to do something about it ”by creating a startup that manufacture sanitary pads for girls at affordable prices with the hope that they'll stay in school.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Every year, a quarter of all Cameroonian school girls miss up to 50 days of school for a simple reason – they have no adequate menstrual protection. This is one of the main reasons for high dropout rates amongst school girls. Additionally, 31% of working women in Cameroon miss a month of work each year because of menstruation. While sanitary pads have been demonstrated to improve women's education, productivity and health, only 16% of women use .

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

My bold idea to solve the problem is first of all the establishment of a women led industry which uses locally sourced banana stem fibers to manufacture low cost eco-friendly sanitary napkins. These pads are sold at 50% cheaper than mainstream brands making them affordable to women of all social status.

Women are involved in the entire value chain from extraction of raw materials to distribution and sales. This provides a source of income via employment opportunities at the industry making these women contributing members of their families and communities. They also have bank accounts with both checking and savings accounts giving them access to more financial opportunities.
We make our product accessible through our sales force who sell door to door Avon style in villages where mainstream brands have not reached or are there but very expensive.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.

My innovation is making a big impact here in Cameroon already. Women and girls from all social backgrounds are using our product. They have dropped other brands because they are expensive,cumbersome and difficult to discard.
KujaEcoPads are 100% biodegradable,clinically approved with no added harmful chemicals. This is a breakthrough in women's health and wellness.
All mainstream brands in Cameroon are made if rayon and bleached with tons of chlorine which causes irritations to women. Our pads are natural and cater for the health if women.
We have four different types of packaging.
For the first time in the history of Cameroon, we retail single pads for 100frs each (USD 25c). Our next pack contains four maxi long pads for (USD 1.00) .The third pack contains of eight pads for (USD 2.00) and our family pack contains 16 pads for USD 4.00). These make the pads affordable to all women.

5a. Too many people in the U.S. have unmet needs for financial products and services. How is your work reaching a population(s) that is currently underserved? If it is not reaching an underserved population yet, how might it in the near future?

The underserved communities we are dealing with are women and girls from rural areas school girls,,orphans, women in prison, teenage mothers ,women and girls with disabilities and women and girls from indigenous communities.
We reach them with our product through our sales force who travel to far off villages and sell pads and get a commission for each pack sold.
We also reach them through our health team who are in charge of outreach awareness programs on menstrual hygiene management.

5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:

  • ability
  • illness
  • geography
  • immigration status
  • work status
  • race/ethnicity
  • sexual orientation
  • gender
  • age - youth
  • socio-economic class
  • other (please specify on question 5a)

6. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Many distributors of mainstream pads exist in Cameroon who import their pads mostly from Nigeria and China. These pads are made of rayon, dyes, fragrances and tons if chlorine bleach which is a hazard to women's health.
The pads are expensive, cumbersome and difficult to decompose. They are also a hazard to the environment as they taken 500-800 years to decompose.
Our pads are chemical free. Clinically approved with no harmful chemicals and are good for the body and the earth.
Our pads are both affordable and accessible.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

http://www.bbc.com/afrique/region-43922953?ocid=wsafrique.chat-apps.in-app-msg.whatsapp.trial.link1_.auin

Above link is a report made by BBC Afrique about our product. It gives great testimonials from women and girls who have and are currently using our product.
We have reached more than 20000 women and girls to date.

8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?

Our strategies for scaling up is first buy more machines and hire more women.
This way we can spread geographically and reach a much wider population.
Training will also be our main focus

8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?

  • Organizational Growth
  • Campaigns

10. Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Our industry is made up of eight women who work on part-time basis. We have a unit supervisor, a floor manager and a marketing director.
We plan to work with more experts in the nearest future.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 - Which of the following categories do you identify with? (optional)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

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