My Pads – providing affordable & safe Sanitary Products in Zimbabwe

My Pads is a pioneering and progressive company who want to change women’s lives by giving them the freedom to live – month after month. My Pads offer practical, high quality, environmentally responsible sanitary products that make financial sense.

Some statistics:

• 44% of rural shops do not sell ANY sanitary wear at all.
• 72% of rural school girls use cloth for their monthly periods.
• This is not hygienic but does indicate that the girls may have access to water.
• 20% of rural girls don’t go to school during their periods.
• This equates to 4 days / month; 48 days/ year; 20% of their schooling missed a year.

MY PADS VISION STATEMENT:

We are a pioneering, progressive, environmental company who want to change women’s lives by giving them the freedom to live – month after month. My Pads offer practical, quality, green sanitary products that make financial sense.

We will partner with organizations to educate women about menstruation and personal hygiene. We will empower women to be able to manage their menstrual cycles so that they can embrace their womanhood.

We strive to enable girls to complete their education unhindered by their monthly periods.
Above all – we value honesty and integrity at My Pads. We will fulfill promises and contracts to the highest standard and exceed expectations of professionalism.

BACKGROUND:

• My Pads started under the SNV IB Programme in June 2013, with consultants conducting market research to identify whether re-usable pads would be wanted in the community. The resounding ‘yes ... depending on the price’ pushed My Pads to the next level
• Phase 1 of the IB programme started in October 2013. This involved considerable marketing, training, product testing and re-designing.
• We are now in Phase 2, and the push now is on setting up distribution channels and marketing.

• There have been 2 big challenges:

- The first is finding reliable tailors to sew well. For various reasons, 4 groups the received training have since closed down and My Pads is now contracting more structured factories to sew, rather than smaller enterprises. We had wanted to employ lots of little groups of tailors to spread the workload and spread the knowledge of how to sew RUMPS and to benefit more communities, but so far it has proved to be an administration challenge. Larger, more established factories give a better result for a business like My Pads who is expecting large bulk orders.
- The second has been setting up a distribution network to sell the pads. We wanted to assist individuals and organisations to earn profit by buying My Pads wholesale and selling them on. This is still the ambition, but setting up reliable agents, and working on a credit system requires considerable administration to follow up on agents.

• My Pads has worked extremely hard to get the price of the product down as low as possible to make it affordable for as many people in Zimbabwe as possible. We wholesale a pack of 5 pads for $4 (delivery in Harare). Recommended Retail Price is $5.
• We have agents all around Greater Harare, and their sales are slowly picking up as the word spreads.
• Our main agent is the SME’s Business Network who are working closely with My Pads to raise money for marketing, and awareness of the product all over the country. Our relationship is still new, but we have big dreams of taking My Pads to all rural and urban areas of Zimbabwe together.
• My Pads’ ambition is to provide the best quality and value for money sanitary pad provider in Zimbabwe.

• My Pads is working with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) to create the first ever standard for RUMPS in Zimbabwe. My Pads hopes to be the first sanitary pad company to attain this standard once it is published.
• Interestingly, there is no SAZ Standard for any disposable pads in Zimbabwe either – this is also a work in progress to set up a standard.
• The biggest ‘selling point’ of the pads, has to be the price. Disposable pads cost on average $2 / month = $24 / year. My Pads will retail at just $5 and last for more than 1 year. We recommend new pads are bought every 12 – 18 months for good hygiene, but they do last longer.
• The biggest ‘challenge’ people consider when buying the pads is WATER. They do require about 4 / 5 litres of water per day to wash the pads.

OUR NEXT STEPS:

• Marketing
• Distribution
• SAZ recognition (although this may still be many months away, so we need to start selling pads asap)
• There is no doubt at all that affordable sanitary wear is needed in Zimbabwe. We are hoping that My Pads becomes a major player in the answer to the need.

For more information go to www.my-pads.org
For more information on inclusive business go to www.inclusivebusiness.org.zw
or contact info@inclusivebusiness.org.zw

Source / Author: 
IB Forum of Zimbabwe and SNV Zimbabwe
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