If you live in the developed world, what you‘re about to read next may sound shocking to you. Did you know that a large portion of rural African women do not have access to decent sanitary protection during menstruation? In many instances, young girls use feathers, newspaper, old rags, mud and other less dignifying‘ stuff to absorb the blood. Yes, it‘s very shocking, but it‘s also true.
In some parts of the continent, women cannot afford the sanitary pads on sale. For example, Always Sanitary Pads‘, one of the most popular sanitary pads on the market, sells for about $2.00 for a single pack of 10 pads.
As a result, millions of schoolgirls across Africa absent themselves from school for three to five days every month (during their menstrual periods) to avoid embarrassment and discomfort. A considerable number of these girls eventually drop out of school and never finish their education.
The business opportunity here is simple. Low-income Africans need low-cost alternatives to the sanitary pads that are currently available on the African market. This category of consumers wants a product that, while very affordable, allows them to live their normal lives without discomfort or missing out on a bright future by not attending school.
This is the perfect product that you can run both as an entrepreneur and as a social entrepreneur. This is one of those businesses that allow you to make a profit and a huge social impact at the same time.
The availability of sanitary pads will be of increasing importance in Africa. You could start your business venture as a very simple mechanized production concept at grass-roots level in rural areas or townships, or an automated state-of-the-art machinery system for the city retail market.
There is also the opportunity to import low-cost brands into certain areas if you do not want to manufacture the pads yourself.
Urinary Incontinence pads for the elderly
Top Countries & Policy Guidance
There will be high demand for sanitary products across Africa, but in some African capital cities it may be difficult to compete with some of the popular global brands that are being sold there. A great strategy would be to focus on low-income consumers.
Action & Tips
Talking to women from various economic backgrounds in a particular country will provide you with first hand insights about your market.
Check Euromonitor International online by typing in sanitary pads + country.
Barclay Paul Okari – Safi Pads (Kenya)
Barclay Paul Okari is a 21-year-old Kenyan entrepreneur who noticed the problems caused by the unavailability of sanitary pads for teenage girls in the rural settlements of Western Kenya, Eastern Uganda and Southern Sudan. He decided to make a product that was half the market price of commercial sanitary pads on the market.
His product, Safi Pads, is made from soft locally-available materials and is washable and reusable. His brilliant invention now affords access to cheap, clean and safe sanitary protection for thousands of young women in his country and neighboring regions. He has also caught the attention of the world and received $18,000 funding to support his initiatives and increase production.