Improving Hygiene Through Sustainable Business Development

by Anik Patel


Our solution

Kigeme camp has 6977 females of child-bearing age and 2906 babies/toddlers. 30% are not attending school when they menstruate due to insufficient stipends for pads. Demand for diapers and pads for women in communities surrounding the refugee camp is equally high. We propose to develop a vocational training center within the camp where women learn to sew reusable pads and diapers which will allow them to stay hygienic, stay in school, create income, and increase the well-being of their children.

What's the business opportunity for host and refugee community

Female refugees will buy supplies such as cloth and thread from the host community. This will stimulate the local economy while also producing an income for the workers. Women will sell the pads for 800 Rwandan Franc (RWF) and diapers for 1000 RWF per item to members of the refugee and host community, creating a local market. Pads and diapers are designed to be reusable, can be used up to a year, and are made of environmentally-friendly fully decomposable materials.

How has it been implemented and what impact it had

There are similar, successful models addressing this issue in sub-Saharan Africa. Whereas other models use materials that are one-time use only or are not environmentally-friendly, we will use reusable, sustainable, and affordable materials. By creating reusable pads, women and girls can attend school, go to work, and feel more comfortable during their menstrual periods. By creating affordable, reusable cloth diapers, babies will be able to stay clean and prevent the spread of disease.

Our Skills and Experience

Ms. Wien works in Kigeme camp addressing sexual, physical, and emotional violence in adolescents. Members of the camp have informed her that there is a need for affordable, reusable sanitary pads. Dr. Patel is a pediatrician working in Rwanda who has noticed that patients often do not use diapers; as such, there is a higher risk of infections in the hospital and in the community. Together with local partners, they came up with the idea to address this issue for health and economic reasons.