A stained dress is the dread of any girl living anywhere across the world. The natural reproductive process should not be stigmatized but time and again it haunts girls, especially those from disadvantaged and vulnerable backgrounds.
This was the story of Bethsheba Otuga, the Founder of Ahadi Pads throughout her adolescent life. “My periods started when I was in Form three, and my parents were not able to buy sanitary pads. I suffered stigma, leaks, and shame. One day, I was reading at a local study place and found a pool of blood under my seat,” she recalls.
“Since then, I have always had a desire of manufacturing reusable pads that are hygienic, comfortable, and affordable for thousands of girls and avoid a repeat of my traumatic experience in their lives.”
The organisation, Ahadi Pads began in 2018. It started with experiments of making pads using various materials, and the organisation now makes pads that are leakproof, breathable and do not cause irritation to the skin.
The organisation seed capital was Kes. 195,000, a grant from Somo Africa, that assisted in the setting up of the workshop.
“Business has challenges as we hoped to sell the pads easily after manufacturing but this was not the case. We, therefore, changed our business model to partnering with organisations and individuals who sponsored our outreach events in efforts to reach girls or women in dire need of pads because of biting poverty. We also held seminars and workshops to speak against the stigma and shame associated with menstruation,” she says.
The organisation also holds demonstrations on how to clean and care for the reusable pads, which can last for more than one year when instructions are followed.
On the eMarketplace, Otuga says, “Ahadi Pads has established an online shop and we hope to get publicity and increase awareness about our goods and services, and therefore open up a bigger local and international market for Ahadi Reusable Pads.” https://exhibition.cbwnkenya.org/shop/httpsm-facebook-comahadireusablepads/
She adds that the Commonwealth Business Women Network – Kenya eMarketplace is the first organisation she has joined and would recommend it to other female entrepreneurs especially those she met through Somo Africa.
The organisation has adopted in their objectives Menstrual Health Management, Life Skills Training, Gender-Based Violence, Rape and Defilement among other issues, and also donations through partners to children homes and needy women.
The organisation has since inception reached more than 2,000 girls and trained six people on pad making. It has three full-time employees and four tailors who are on call on a need by need basis. The organisation has invested in three industrial machines, three domestic machines, and one industrial overlock among other tools and equipment.
The pads are sold in regular packages of four pads, a wet bag, and an instruction leaflet at 550 Kenyan shillings. The organisation also makes pads custom-made to a client’s specifications.