Be-Girl Jordan: Sanitary Pad Commercial Pilot with Sakhran Women Society Cooperative

Be-Girl Jordan: Sanitary Pad Commercial Pilot with Sakhran Women Society Cooperative

JordaniaNorth Bergen, Estados Unidos
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Lack of access to sanitary products prevents millions of girls to complete an education. Be-Girl intervenes in this leverage point to break the poverty trap, by offering an adaptable and versatile high performance sanitary pad that empowers women to close the gender gap and take control of their heath and quality of life.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if menstruation –the most natural process of being a girl– was seen a sign of pride and empowerment instead of stigma and shame?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

: In rural Africa alone, 40 % of schoolgirls miss up to 5 schooldays a month or 30% of the school year because of lack of access to sanitary products, leading to lower performance and a high dropout rate– similar conditions affect Jordan the MENA region as well. Disposable pads offer one-time solutions at a high cost and washable pads are not clean and safe due to pervasive water access problems, demonstrating the immense need vast for sanitary products that deliver convenient high-performance protection at a lower cost and minimizing resource use.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Be-Girl pads offer the convenience and leak-proof performance of disposable sanitary pads with the affordability of reusable pads through a unique hybrid design that utilize a washable waterproof pad holder that can be filled with any available safe disposable or reusable absorbent material (toilet paper, gauze, repurposed cloth, etc). This empowers women with the option to customize it according to their location and access to water and resources. With a 24-month useful life, the anti-fungal/microbial high-performance materials reduce the economic burden on the user and the family, while delivering improved health and hygiene. The Be-Girl pad design combines technology, user needs and locally available materials to solve the fundamental problem of access to high-quality menstrual hygiene products in regions like MENA.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Lack of access to appropriate sanitary pads can an immense burden for a girl in challenging conditions like Patience, a 15 year old from Ruhiira, Uganda who told us that when you don’t have pads: “You suffer a lot; in case you ‘stamp’ the boys can make fun of you which causes you to lose your self esteem. When you don't have a pad its embarrassing when you are washing your soiled clothes. It makes you not even want to go to school”. Be-Girl pads completely changed everything, she reported: “I could do my daily activities normally without any fear or anxiety, It is nice. Not even your neighbor can imagine that you are wearing one.”
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Skoon, GladRags, Afripads and Lunapads are the major producers and retailers of reusable sanitary pads in USA, East Africa and Asia¬, offering a product solution consisting of a kit of absorbent pads matched with brand specific holders. Their design is mostly cotton based, and does not offer full leak-proof protection and having extended dry times. Global brands of disposable sanitary pads are less available and less price accessible, having a minor presence in the market. Be-Girl pads are a completely unique and unprecedented hybrid solution that utilizes the best qualities of disposable and washable pads, matching them with local resource availability.
About You
Organization:
Be-Girl
About You
First Name

Diana

Last Name

Sierra

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Be-Girl

Organization Country

, NJ, North Bergen

Country where this project is creating social impact

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Project
Year founded

2012

Impact
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date?

Be-Girl’s pilots have successfully deployed over 200 pad kits across 4 locations in Sub-Saharan Africa through Millennium Promise, providing ergonomic and safe menstrual flow protection to users who report over 95% satisfaction with the product. Be-Girl pads have boosted the confidence of the users and provided them unprecedented levels of autonomy and empowerment, demonstrated by the positive changes in attitudes towards menstruation. Users have also reported high satisfaction with increased privacy and discretion achieved through the leak-proof design and the rapid drying cycle of the reusable components. Moreover, the anti-fungal/microbial high-performance materials have also resulted in improved hygiene and user health. The environmental impacts are also encouraging¬ –throughout its 2-year useful life, every Be-Girl pad kit replaces 300 disposable pads and saves over 750 liters of water when compared to reusable pads in the market.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Be-Girl pads will mostly face cultural barriers that exert pressure on gender issues, forcing important challenges such as access to menstrual hygiene products out of the public discourse. Be-Girl will also face financial constraints from manufacturing at volumes that permit it to reap economies of scale and pass on discounts to consumers. However, by selling a unique design and brand differentiated product at competitive prices, Be-Pad will create economic opportunities for distributors and women’s cooperatives, shifting the incentive to the market makers and consumer, thus by-passing cultural barriers and encouraging higher sales volumes.

Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

Although initially Be-Girl distribution will spread through sales partnerships, the design solution is applicable at a global scale. Currently under development is a toolkit that will enable local women cooperatives and other entrepreneurs to create local manufacturing facilities. Be-Girl will then be able to supply materials for production or deliver final product. This two-tier solution will allow the business to adapt to local conditions, support local economies and improve the environmental performance of the product while maintaining the cost low. Establishing the global brand is the lynchpin of the strategy. In addition, engaging local leaders, and providing multi-language print and online education tools will help sustain the product in the markets it reaches as well as expand to new ones. We aim to reach over 30,000 women in Jordan and Kenya in 2014, and hope to triple the impact by going global in 2015.

Sustainability
Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Be-Girl is currently in its pilot and testing stage with simultaneous initial fundraising efforts. The Be-Pad social enterprise will identify distributors in various locations and sell at wholesale volume and prices. In addition, we will work with established women entrepreneur cooperatives such as the Sakhran Women Society Cooperative in Jordan to establish and operate manufacturing or distribution centers under franchise agreements. These income streams will sustain the lean management structure, sustaining continuous innovation and product improvement as well as education, branding and other standards that must be established. By shifting manufacturing and distribution outside of the firm, Be-Girl will operate with mostly variable costs, allowing it to respond to changing economic realities without interrupting the delivery of high-quality products.

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

The Be-Girl pad was inspired by the local needs I witnessed while volunteering with Millennium Promise in rural Uganda. Working closely with women’s groups I got to understand the huge challenge that many girls face to access sanitary products and how this overlooked issue has devastating repercussions in millions of women’s lives. As a woman designer I felt a deep responsibility to address this issue and I immediately started working on a solution using the materials I had on hand: an umbrella, some mosquito net, thread and scissors. Starting with the shape and usability benefits of a disposable pad as inspiration, I was able to design a low-cost, reusable and locally sourced alternative that is easy to implement and replicate.

Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

After 4 successful use pilots conducted in conjunction with our impact evaluation partners the Millennium Promise and the Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development, Earth Institute at Columbia University, we currently have two commercialization partners for the pilot of the social enterprise Be-Pad kit distribution. In Jordan we partnered with The Sakhran Women Society Cooperative presided by Ashoka Fellow Zeinab Almoumani and in Kenya with existing social enterprises Ecozoom and Sanergy.

Women Powering Work
Is your project targeted at solving any of the following challenges?

Building self-confidence and networks through role models, mentors, public campaigns, and more

Does your project utilize any of the strategies below?

Group learning experiences such as hands-on learning projects, cooperatives, collectives, support groups, and more