In Kenya, and many other places around the world, sanitary products are often unaffordable. Widespread poverty across Kenya, and artificially high prices, means that one month’s worth of sanitary products consume around 25% of the average monthly income. That means that if a mother has three adolescent daughters, that would consume the entirety of her income. As you can imagine, often is the case that women go without this vital resource, instead choosing to use anything they can find: rags, leaves, bits of carrier bags.
But it gets worse. Menstruation is not a topic that is discussed in Kenya. The stigma surrounding it is so strong, that many girls and women choose not to leave the house when menstruating. Women cannot enter work in the formal sector out of fear of having an accident. Girls are often too frightened to go to school, meaning that they can miss up to 25% of their education, a cost, which their society cannot afford.
In Kenyan culture there are numerous myths associated with menstruating which means that they are frowned on, isolated and often locked inside. Adolescent girls have little or no knowledge about the processes which their bodies are going through. It can be frightening.
We have designed re-usable sanitary towels which are produced and sold by our entrepreneurs. We provide microfinance loans to co-operative partnerships who then work together as a team. Our towels are sold in packs of three meaning that our customers have one to wear, one to wash and one to dry.
We currently offer towels of two different lengths and absorbances and are continuously looking into expanding the product further to suit the needs of every woman.
We also fully educate our entrepreneurs about menstruation, which they then pass on to their communities when they buy a towel. They don’t just offer a product, they offer a service. These conversations are invaluable for young girls who would most likely not receive this education at school or in their home. SanEco customers can now go to work and school with confidence, so that they can make the wages and get the learning experiences which they deserve.