ZanaAfrica – Providing sanitary pads for school kids in Kenya (Sarphati Sanitation Awards 2015 Nominee)

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ZanaAfrica – Providing sanitary pads for school kids in Kenya (Sarphati Sanitation Awards 2015 Nominee)

What is our business doing and how did we get started?

ZanaAfrica Group envisions healthy communities where girls and women believe in their inherent power to define their purpose and live a life they choose.
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, we offer products that are designed for women, by women. We understand women’s diverse needs and believe every woman deserves to feel confident during that time of the month.

What was your motivation to start our business?
Sanitary pads are of reach for 65% of Kenyan women.

Every 10 minutes, a girl in Kenya starts her period without guaranteed access to safe, hygienic pads and health education.

Almost 1 million girls in Kenya miss up to six weeks of school each year because of this, creating cascading consequences.

Compared to boys, girls are:
• 45% less likely to complete secondary school
• 4X more likely to contract HIV
• 50% less likely to be employed
• 6X more likely to marry as a child
• 4X more likely to be victims of domestic violence

Sanitary pads and health education are one of the smallest hinges that can unlock the greatest potential for girls and break cycles of poverty. If every girl in Kenya were to graduate from secondary school, there would be a 48% increase in country GDP across her lifetimes.


How do we work on demand creation?

ZanaAfrica Group seeks to shape the feminine hygiene industry in East Africa to unlock the market for 1 million women and girls by 2020, delivering aspirational sanitary pads coupled with responsive reproductive health education.
• MARKET ACCESS: Make pads accessible within walking distance and affordable to women on daily budgets
• BEYOND FMCG: Transform this Fast Moving Consumer Good into a Fast Moving Educational Good with resources in and on packages
• BUILDING AN ECOSYSTEM: With ZanaAfrica Foundation, we work with partners across sectors to celebrate women living their purpose, to normalize periods and move from shame to inherent value and voice
What are the biggest challenges in terms of up scaling for you? What is needed to scale up your business?

There’s a huge business opportunity in the production of sanitary pads for women and girls.
It’s a:
$13BN Global Industry
$47M Untapped in Kenya
$250M Untapped in East Africa

For every $1 invested in MHM there is a $16 Return to the society.

We need $$$ to allow us to scale up at the level where we are not only reaching more girls and women, while contributing to the MHM space but $$ to allow us tap into the Untapped Opportunity in the world that will result to more $$ return on the Global GDP as well as keep more girls in school, which will circle back to drive our theory of change.

What is our aspiration and vision for the future?

We convert our pad products into a holistic SRHR support service by co-delivering accurate, responsive, referable reproductive health resources alongside pads that girls can directly engage with independent of information gatekeepers in their communities. Health comics for girls provide a physical resource that they can read in private, share with others, and refer back to once they receive it.

What are our recommendations for young sanitation entrepreneurs?

If you want to change the world, invest in an adolescent girl. A disadvantaged girl now becomes an independent middle-class leader through education. She has a better income, determines when and with whom to have children, and ensures those children complete their education.

Tragically, absenteeism causes 2 in 3 girls in East Africa to drop out by age 16 and forgo those benefits. Why? Girls miss up an average of six weeks of school a year simply because sanitary pads are too expensive and “accidents” too mortifying. Mothers too lose an average of 6 hours of work per month due to a lack of pads, and their children go hungrier those days.

Therefore, the sanitary pad is perhaps the smallest intervention we can make to yield the largest short- and long-term impact. 4 in 5 women cannot afford or access pads due to current prices and inefficient distribution channels. We are changing this reality; join us in changing this reality.

Articles:
www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/06/04/sa...m_source=twitterfeed
theconversation.com/menstruation-is-a-gl...-talk-about-it-46045
www.insidephilanthropy.com/impact-invest...n-does-this-out.html

We are here to hear your comments and answer your questions. Feel free to start the discussion!

For Women, By Women
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  • SDickin
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Re: Sarphati Sanitation Awards 2015 Nominee: ZanaAfrica – Providing sanitary pads for school kids in Kenya

Dear ZanaAfrica,
Congratulations on your nomination and on developing this extremely important business. Including health information on packages is a creative idea to combine multiple goals. I have a few questions about your work.
You list a few points on how you develop demand, but what steps are you taking to make pads more accessible as you mention (particularly the aspects of closer distances and affordability to women, that you highlight)?

I am also curious what you think makes your company stand out, and why you believe your products are better than other types of options for MHM? (with regards to factors such as ease of use, affordability, waste issues, health benefits, etc.).

Best regards and good luck,
Sarah

Dr. Sarah Dickin,
Research Fellow
Stockholm Environment Institute
Stockholm, Sweden
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Re: Sarphati Sanitation Awards 2015 Nominee: ZanaAfrica – Providing sanitary pads for school kids in Kenya

Dear Caroline,

Great to hear about your work here on the forum!

I have just asked the same question to Swapnil from Samagra here :
How is all your work is funded? I see that you have income from selling the pads but which external funds are you using in addition to this?

I see in the BMGF grant database that you had two grants from them ( www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quic...ts-Database#q/k=zana ):

First this one:

American Friends of ZanaAfrica
Date: April 2011
Purpose: to develop and test sanitary pads that utilize an agricultural by-product as an alternative absorbent material
Amount: $100,000

and then this one which ended on 30.11.2014:

ZanaAfrica Group
Date: November 2012
Purpose: to improve health and productivity of women and girls in Kenya by expanding access to safe, affordable sanitary pads from renewable resources
Amount: $499,987

Could you please explain how these two grants have helped you get this off the ground? Were they instrumental to your success so far? Do you have other sources of donor-type funding as well?

And, similarly to Sarah's question above: have you considered taking up menstrual cups in your range of menstrual hygiene products as well?

Kind regards,
Elisabeth

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum
(Funded via GIZ short term consultancy contract)

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Re: Sarphati Sanitation Awards 2015 Nominee: ZanaAfrica – Providing sanitary pads for school kids in Kenya

Dear ZanaAfrica,

Congratulations on your nomination and thank you for taking the time to present your work on the SuSanA Forum.

Your post convincingly argues how a small intervention can have a big impact on the lives of women and as a consequence on society as a whole. As Sarah already stressed, it is a creative idea to provide health information on packages to achieve multiple goals.

You rightly stressed the benefits of MHM not only to women but to society as well, so I was wondering whether you have thought about ultimately extending your awareness raising efforts to men as well. Helping women to feel confident during their periods and to regard them as something normal rather than shameful is extremely important but I would assume that “normalizing periods” requires men to come to this understanding as well.

Good luck at the award ceremony next week!

Best,
Katrin

Dr. Katrin Dauenhauer
SuSanA Thematic Discussion Series Coordinator
Bonn, Germany
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Re: Sarphati Sanitation Awards 2015 Nominee: ZanaAfrica – Providing sanitary pads for school kids in Kenya

Very Good questions... Thank you for your questions!

What steps are you taking to make pads more accessible as you mention?
We are currently working on a strategy to commercially launch our products across the entire country beginning in mid-2016 to ensure that each town and village has access to our products without compromising the end-user’s price point.
At the moment, we are working with partners in Community Based Organizations, NGO's, Clinics as well as working with second tier supermarkets and kiosks. We realize that the availability of our sanitary pads in the closest corner store, to a woman is the best and easiest way to avail significant products to her.

What we think makes your company stand out and why our products are better than other types of options for MHM?

We believe our Organization stands out because, we make aspirational products. We base our products on what women and girls are asking for. We address and tackle menstrual management at the level where girls are very impressionable and are undergoing personal transformational change.

We don't believe our products are entirely better than other MHM products, but we believe our approach is better.
We spend a significant amount of time asking women and girls what they seek and need. At every stage of our product development, we ensure that women and girls are directly providing input in its creation. Our products are made at high-speed, automated manufacturing facilities because we know that this is what women and girls want and allows for better quality control. This also allows us to keep costs low for last-mile women and girls. Additionally, our marketing and branding ensure that women and girls feel empowered and important, which is crucial in uptake of our products!
Our Approach is a layered approach, this ensures that as opposed to offering a Fast Moving Consumer Good, we are offering a Fast Moving Educational Good. This is a holistic approach that we have tested with thousands of girls and women and have received a lot of feedback, on it being the way to go and the best and most not only cost effective but also efficient manner to approach and manage MHM.

I hope this sheds some light on our work.

Best,
Caroline

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Re: Sarphati Sanitation Awards 2015 Nominee: ZanaAfrica – Providing sanitary pads for school kids in Kenya

Hi Katrin,

Thank you so much for your encouragement and kind words!

Have we thought about ultimately extending your awareness raising efforts to men as well?

We agree and of course MHM must be an issue that engages men. At this point of our organization, we are focussing on reaching the girls and women, through a layered approach, that will allow us to reach me easily as well as at an engaging and impressionable time.
Our comics are one way that we are already using too, through introducing male characters that grow and tell the story with our Main character NIA. All the same, in as much as we would want to engage in the changing of attitudes and perceptions for Men towards and on MHM, we are only able to scale the organization through various stages. We work closely with our friends at WASH United to raise awareness about MHM across groups, genders and sectors through Global Menstrual Hygiene Day – May 28.
Our non-profit works with a range of different community based organizations across Kenya that have the capacity to mobilize their communities to think and care about this issue while engaging all genders. I must also point out proudly that so many of these organizations are male led, which is an impeccable example of further need to engage more men as well as work with them.
“normalizing periods” requires men to come to this understanding as well. ...
We couldn't agree more Katrin!

We believe that by marketing feminine hygiene products in a way that moves beyond "cleanliness" and “hygiene,” but forces people to think about women and girls’ purpose will not only impact the way women and girls view themselves, but also how society views menstruation!

Please visit www.zanaafrica.org for more information!

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Re: Sarphati Sanitation Awards 2015 Nominee: ZanaAfrica – Providing sanitary pads for school kids in Kenya

Thank You for your questions Elisabeth,

How is all our work is funded? I see that you have income from selling the pads but which external funds are you using in addition to this?

That's correct Elisabeth. We have income from sales, but are yet to break even. That said, we use blended funding to scale our business, this is through grants, financing and working closely with various impact investors.

We have specifically received funding from Grand Challenges Canada (GCC) which was a jointly funded grant with the Gates Foundation ( www.grandchallenges.ca/grantee-stars/0173-01/ )
and our first investment funding from GCC earlier this year (2015) to scale up our operations.

How have the two grants you reference in your question, helped us? Were they instrumental to your success so far? The BMG grants enabled us to do product development to figure out lower cost pad alternatives, to understand the needs of women and girls through testing various pad configurations, and develop strategies to solve the challenges of access to pads and health information (cost and availability)
The funding additionally, enabled us to build a strong focused team on the ground which has been instrumental in achieving many of our milestones to date. Allowing the various units within the organization to focus on specific objectives and milestones.

Do you have other sources of donor-type funding as well? yes, we have funding from other private donors such as TripAdvisor and the Stewardship Foundation.

Have we considered taking up menstrual cups in our range of menstrual hygiene products as well?
We have had deliberations on the next steps for growth for the organization. As we scale up we are keen to continually evaluate various menstrual products that we could offer, as we mention in our narrative, our product development is informed by data and insights collected in the field.

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