Uwineza Liliane Kai a young woman entrepreneur achieved the dream to set up a sanitary pads factory
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Of the more than six million women and girls in Rwanda, each one has or will one day go to the back (menstruation), it’s how a woman is created. A very important characteristic.
During that period, a sanitary pad or napkin is an essential part of a woman’s or girl’s hygiene and dignity.
Although sanitary pads are in high demand in Rwanda, most of it is imported and as of 2019, hygiene products valued at Usd 5.9 Million $ including sanitary pads, got imported in Rwanda. That’s according to the website of the UN, COMTRADE reports.
Inovos Ltd, located in Bugesera district, set up works in 2019 and started manufacturing sanitary pads known as Tamu Sanitary Pads.
In an interview with IGIHE, Uwineza said that she and her founding partners; Mr. Christian Ndinda and Mr. Aimé Kwizera were inspired by the passion to contribute in the fight of ending period poverty and social injustice to the access of sanitary pads.
Speaking to IGIHE, Mrs. Uwineza said;
“We came together as three young entrepreneurs thinking about a good access point to good business we can invest in. Looking at the current issue of menstrual hygiene products, the decision wasn’t a hard one. We got to the process of getting set up and Inovos was born. Then came our pilot product;
TAMU SANITARY PADS.
Our aim was to manufacture something high quality, cheap and readily available.
Our pads are of the Ultra thin mode but with a very high absorbency capacity so you don’t get the full up feeling while using our product. A lot of our attention is centered around Comfort and Hygiene so as such, there’s no added chemicals or perfumes wrapped bellow a soft feel cotton top.
Extra care is taken to make sure there’s no leakages during use.
For a very special mention here; We can’t thank our clients enough mainly on the issue of feed back. They’ve helped us evolve. We are very proud of our product.
One of the challenges young entrepreneurs face is to find a market for what they do.
TAMU SANITARY PADS is clearly very happy to be participating in this space letting you know that we are here.
The challenge, Mrs Uwineza pointed out is that big business wholesallers do not often accept new products, but people aswell need a lot of education on new market products so we have a challenge to reach the masses so they can understand the advantages of of our Ultra thin super absorbent pad.
The factory currently has 32 employees, of which 30 are young women. Although Sanitary Pads is the starting point, Uwineza said they intend to expand, to more products down that road.
The most common problem is how expensive sanitary pads are compared to the affordabilty most women and girls in Rwanda have access to.
As of 2019, the government has exempted taxes from imports to reach low incom populations, but more and more people have come to understand that they are still expensive.
Uwineza said that because Inovos ltd is community based, it makes sanitary pads accessible at a lower cost.
It occurred to us that often the problem is when the product goes through a long process supply chain, it gets to end user with overly increased add ons that get felt by they end user financially. So being close to the community and giving it away through a direct chain of too many traders, it should get to you at a very affordable price.
She said that in the next ten years, they aim to be a very prosperous, marketable and very well established product outside of Rwanda.
They also are currently looking at expanding their workspace as planned and have more modern buildings and equipment to help them expand their business.
Uwineza advised women and girls to feel empowered and confident to take leadership in solving issues that affect them and their communities. She continues to encourage women to join business in Sanitation and Hygiene.
“I tell the girls and women that we are capable, that we have the ability to do everything. There aren’t so many jobs for boys that are not for girls aswell.
Mujawimana Maria, who used Tamu sanitary pads, said she found it to be better than her previous ones.
“This Pad has the uniqueness of being ultra-thin and absorb a lot of menstruation, you feel good and comfortable.”
Mrs. Uwineza who also owns 50% of the shares in Inovos Ltd points out that it’s great sacrifice of personal time, a lot of self acceptance, and a relentless reliance of a committed team of like minded partners that has to be the driving force to see the success through.