TANZANIA – WomenChoice Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of low-cost, affordable, reusable sanitary towels, has raised US$200,000 in funding from US-based impact investor, Gray Matters Capital (GMC).

The investment comes under GMC coLABS, the sector-agnostic gender portfolio of the American impact investor.

The investment is aimed at helping WomenChoice Industries reach out to 500,000 women and girls from low-resource settings, to use its reusable sanitary towels by December 2022.

This will entail the funding amount to be used for ramping up its production capacity, recruiting and training of vendors and sales & distribution agents.

The reusable sanitary towels produced by WomenChoice Industries are made by locally trained tailors, volunteers, and staff employed by the company from locally sourced soft cotton, absorbent towelling and Polyurethane Waterproof (PUL) fabrics materials, making them soft, light and easy on the skin.  

“Young women and girls aged 9-24 in schools and colleges in Tanzania from low-income families earning less than USD 1.50 a day, face a myriad of menstrual hygiene management health challenges ranging from lack of information to lack of access to products and services, said Lucy Achieng’ Odiwa, Co-founder and CEO, WomenChoice Industries.

“Our ‘Salama pad’ reusable sanitary towels, which come in a pack of five affordably priced at US$2.20 as compared to one-time use, disposable sanitary towels, are an innovative solution to these problems”, she added.

WomenChoice Industries recruits socially disadvantaged and vulnerable young women such as teenage mothers, commercial sex workers, people living with HIV/AIDS and widows from local communities as vendors and sales agents empowering them with menstrual hygiene management (MHM) models along with business and financial management skills.

These recruits are sourced through partners and stakeholders such as NGOs, community-based organisations, women and youth groups, the local community village and wards leadership, and the local government authorities.

WomenChoice have recruited, empowered and employed 700 women with a 90 percent retention rate with specific regional retails and wholesale shops with legal business licenses and tax compliances.

“We came to know about how menstruation is making girl students in Tanzania and across Africa abstain from school for 48-84 days annually, impacting their school attendance and academic performances,” Jennifer Soltis, Portfolio Manager, Gray Matters Capital coLABS, said.

“Reusable sanitary towels like WomenChoice Industries’ Salama Pad’ have shown to reduce incidences of MHM related school dropouts and menstrual health problems resulting from the use of unhygienic materials.”

The funding of WomenChoice Industries marks coLABS’ first investment in Tanzania and its sixth portfolio company to be added from Africa following Rwanda’s ARED, Ghana’s Redbird Health Tech, Nigeria’s Sonocare and Kenya’s Taimba and Farmshine.