Period poverty is the second biggest issue in Africa preventing educational equality for girls. Jendamark Automation has supported the start-up of Sisterhood SA Pty, a visionary health programme that is changing lives with a simple, sustainable sanitary kit.
While menstruation is a taboo topic in many communities, it has a very real impact on the lives of young women, who miss between 75 and 100 days of school every year because they either cannot afford or do not have access to sanitary products.
Enter Sisterhood SA Pty, which has designed a cost-effective sanitary kit that aims to educate and empower girls and keep them in school. The kit includes a washable, reusable sanitary pad and panties, available in pre-teen to adult sizes, plus low-cost cleaning products and educational brochures on reproductive health.
From start-up to success
The Gqeberha-based, women-owned company first engaged with Jendamark during the Covid-19 pandemic when likeminded local businesses started working together to set up supply chains and funding for struggling hospitals.
Seeing the opportunity to make a difference in a different direction, operations director Siegfried Lokotsch made start-up funding available, which allowed Sisterhood SA to develop test kits for a trial run at three schools in Gqeberha.
“The funding gave us the chance to complete our first manufacturing run with leading ISO9000 companies, following written approval from the South African Bureau of Standards to start production on the product and packaging.
“We were able to secure our patent and have a finished product to present to the international market,” says Sisterhood SA Pty director and founder Shaan Keegan.
“We are now in the process of finalising full production and, given the interest from the retail sector and corporate social investment programmes, especially in the USA, we will be starting in 2023 with 3000 units per day.
Partnering for growth
“We have established partnerships with our CSI partner New Africa Education Foundation, which can issue Section 18A tax certificates for corporate donors, and with Novartis Pharmaceuticals, which has a footprint into 47 countries in Africa. We are also endorsed by the United Nations Women’s Forum and Social Justice for Women in SA.”
Keegan says the product will first be distributed in South Africa, followed by Kenya and the USA, and then the rest of Africa, once cluster patents have been secured and they have entered into policing of patent agreements with these countries. She says recent discussions have taken place with leading international organisations such as the East African Health Platform, SOS Children’s Villages, and the Red Cross, as well as a chain of hospitals in India.
“Sisterhood SA Pty would not exist if it was not for Jendamark, so their constant support and contribution meant the world to us. The kit concept and the education programme have never been done before. We are now gaining global attention and, as per the latest interview at the Global Changemakers forum in the USA, we are being well received by Africa and the West.”