Social enterprise for re-usable sanitary pads in Kenya

Together with our partner organisation in Kenya, the Ufanisi Women’s Group, we are supporting 40 women to set up an effective social enterprise for re-usable sanitary pads.

The women will also lead a reproductive health education programme that will help 2,800 women and girls living in rural communities to gain improved understanding of menstrual health management and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

One of the project participants learning tailoring skills

Social enterprise for re-usable sanitary pads in Kenya

The fact that pads are too expensive, inaccessible, or that girls are ill informed about effective menstrual hygiene management is one of the reasons girls miss school in Kenya. For example, if girls don’t have access to adequate sanitation products they may miss school that week and find it hard to catch up, making them more likely to drop out of school altogether (Lizettee, 2000).

The rags that are used when pads are unaffordable, combined with the lack of an accessible safe water supply, are unhygienic and potentially harmful, making menstrual management difficult. However, women who are using re-usable pads have reported that they experience less irritation compared to plastic disposable pads, and they also find the sanitary pads more comfortable.

The re-usable pads are also nearly 3 times cheaper than disposable pads over 6 months – and, given that over 87% of residents in Kisiwa, where this project is based, earn less than US $1/day and unemployment stands at 80% (Bungoma Central District Poverty Index Survey), this economic option will make a big difference.

By investing in a scalable franchise model, the women entrepreneurs we are supporting will manufacture and distribute affordable, eco-friendly menstrual pads by sourcing local, inexpensive raw materials. The project will first deliver a comprehensive 3 month tailoring training course to 8 women. Then 40 women, including the 8 tailoring trainees, will be trained in business skills and sanitary pad production. The profits made from their business will be shared among members and reinvested into the enterprise.

The members will also receive health and menstrual health management training and subsequently deliver awareness raising in local schools and communities.

In Kenya, it is estimated some 2.6 million girls require support to obtain menstrual hygiene materials. This project will support 40 women to produce more affordable sanitary pads and raise awareness of menstrual health management.