Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa

by Femme International
Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa
Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa
Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa
Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa

Project Report | Jan 2, 2020
Introducing the Twende Initiative - Climate Launchpad National champion (Tanzania 2019)

By Florence Akara | Regional Director

Climate launchpad finals in Arusha, Tanzania
Climate launchpad finals in Arusha, Tanzania

In September 2019, our social business idea; the “Twende Initiative” was awarded first prize, and a ticket to represent Tanzania in the Netherlands, Amsterdam, at the largest global green business idea competition - Climate Launchpad

"Twende" is a Swahili word that means "let's go" and resonates with our efforts, values and drive as a team to ensure that menstrual health education and products are available, affordable and accessible by everyone even in the most remote regions of East Africa. 

Within the first quarter of 2020, we will appoint our first cohort of sales-agents or "Twende ambassadors"  to receive training on menstrual health facilitation and learn how to efficiently implement Femme's tools; education and conversation to eradicate menstrual stigma and taboos. 

Once certified, our Twende ambassadors will then travel door to door, community to community, targeting the most remote, and hard to reach regions. They will host community workshops to educate its members about menstruation and introduce reusable menstrual products emphasizing the menstrual cup which is still new and needs a lot of guidance to use.

After running our Twaweza programme for the past 6 years, we have identified four key hinging factors that result in women opting for alternative and usually unsanitary products during menstruation, these are:-

  1. Cost of products - particularly paying a high cost for a poor quality product that is not satisfactory.
  2. Lack of access/stock of menstrual products in rural shops.
  3. The limited number and variety of product stock - most of which are usually overexposed to sunlight or overstayed their shelf-life giving the user discomfort, itching or stinging.
  4. Shame and stigma in purchasing the products because most shops are run by men.

Twende was borne from feedback shared by our beneficiaries and their families about our Twaweza programme. Twaweza currently only serves in-school girls and severely economically disadvantaged communities, but after receiving several purchase requests from friends and families of our beneficiaries, we soon realized that there is a niche outside the Twaweza programme that we can also serve. 

A customer survey enabled us to identify that our customer base is very pragmatic and desires products that will save them money. A pair of so-sure reusable pads will last the user up to 12 months and Hedhicup up to 10 years making them both very desirable to our identified customer base.

Reusable menstrual products are however not readily available in the market and the local buying culture here is predominantly an in-person transaction, therefore buying online is not an option, not to mention mail and shipping costs which will make the cost even more exorbitant.

Twende ambassadors will enable access to high-quality reusable menstrual products to the last mile at no additional cost. In the first phase of our project, we will offer for sale, So-sure pads (a social enterprise arm from our partner Afripads) and Hedhi cup (a female-owned Tanzanian Menstrual cup company). Both products are sourced locally and through partnerships aimed at ending period poverty.

In addition to receiving comprehensive Menstrual health education, customers will have access to various customizable payment options if they are unable to afford the upfront payment. 

The success of the Twende Initiative will help our sustainability as an organization. Twende will become a profit-generating arm of Femme International that will generate profits thus empowering us to continue funding our Twaweza non-profit programme's project and operational costs even when donor and grant cycles are slow or not targeted towards our cause.

We thank you for the continued support and look forward to continuing growing with you. 

From all of us at Femme, happy holidays and best wishes for 2020.

Pitching Twende at the global finals in Amsterdam
Pitching Twende at the global finals in Amsterdam


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Jul 17, 2019
New Research!

By Sabrina Rubli | Founder

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Organization Information

Femme International

Location: Kilimanjaro, Moshi - Tanzania, United Republic of
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @FemmeInt
Project Leader:
Sia Towo
Moshi , Kilimanjaro Tanzania, United Republic of
$28,049 raised of $120,000 goal
363 donations
$91,951 to go
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