GREENPAD CONCEPTS supports girls and women in Nigeria to stay in school by delivering reproductive health education and sanitary pads.
We had the opportunity to email interview the Founder of GreenPad Concepts, Damilola Samuel Mutiu, who’s part of the Africans Building Africa Community.
- Tell us about yourself and your organization
I am Damilola Samuel Mutiu, a social entrepreneur and the founder of GreenPad Concepts from Akure, Ondo State Nigeria.
In Nigeria, especially in rural and semi urban areas, most girls entering secondary school never complete their education, one of the reasons is lack of access to affordable sanitary pads. Most families living on less than $1 a day cannot afford to buy sanitary pads for their girls as they are too expensive. Most girls resort to use unhygienic materials i.e. notebook papers, rags, etc. thus most girls prefer to stay at home during their menstrua period which cause them to miss 4 – 5 classes a month.
GreenPad Concepts, www.greenpadconcepts.com, help rural and semi urban school girls maintain menstrual hygiene at a very low cost.
GreenPad Concepts manufacture biodegradable low cost sanitary pads from local available raw material, with the main raw material being plantain and banana stem fibre. The pads will cost 60% cheaper than the pads in the market and girl from underprivileged families and communities can access it.
Access to affordable sanitary pads will decrease absenteeism in school and dropping out among girls. We also educate school girls on puberty stage, menstruation and menstrual hygiene through our sensitization program and girls also receive one-on-one counseling through our Facebook page.
- How much did you need to start your organization and how were you able to raise that capital?
GreenPad Concepts need over $40,000 to purchase the needed equipment and set up the factory. Since inception, GreenPad have been able to raise only $5,000 from Tony Elumelu Foundation, and we made good use of the Seed Capital to produce the prototype samples and do the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). With the MVP, we got a lot of positive feedback and demands. This triggers us to start production with our limited capacity and we are making progress. With the ability of starting very small, we got support from Microsoft through Winsider4Good Nigeria program in collaboration with CCHUB Lagos. Though we haven’t gotten all the needed capital but we are ON with our product.
- What are some of the challenges you face in your organization and how do you overcome those challenges?
Being the first banana fiber sanitary pad in West Africa, I had little experience initially; but I could see through the tunnel through persistency in research and willingness to get the work done.
Some other challenges I encountered in the process are: financial constraint in terms of resources, small team, little knowledge and high cost of manufacturing in Nigeria.
Through my perseverance and eagerness to get the work done, in 2016 I secure a Seed Capital of $5,000 from Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and this really helped to develop the prototype which attracts more opportunities.
- Where do you see your organization in 5 years from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?
In 5 years GreenPad will have over10 million users only in Nigeria while our production factory will be setup in four geo political zones in Nigeria. GreenPad will be export to other neighboring countries to expand the market and help solve the problem of menstrual hygiene issue.
Right now, we are collaborating with NGOs, Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of Education and state governments that have budget for girls issue to buy sanitary pads to distribute to school girls for free to help keep them in class to get education.
- What advice would you give other entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Africa?
I will encourage other entrepreneurs and upcoming entrepreneurs or investors to equip themselves with relevant skills needed to succeed. As entrepreneurs, it’s our role to do things better in a new way or come up with innovative ideas to make life easier for people and this is our value propositions. I believe value proposition should not just centered on low cost/affordability. Know your ideal customers and bold to present your idea.
Get mentors, focus on key areas and stay grounded. There are no secrets here, just an advice for retaining yourself to cut through the noise; become more productive by focusing only on what matters most in the moment and accomplishing your goals in months rather than years. Wish you the best!
- How is your business participating to the development of Africa?
Outside the fact that GreenPad biodegradable sanitary pads are ecofriendly product, we help to harness the potential of our girls and women entrepreneurs to attain any height of their wish.
At the heart of GreenPad Concepts is the desire to collaborate with women in rural communities and help them achieve a new life for themselves by providing them with the means to exploit their full potential as entrepreneurs. GreenPad Concepts has the goal of providing employment to over 800 women, while creating access to sanitary pads to over 3,000,000 school girls in rural and semi urban areas in the first 5 years of operation.
Access to affordable sanitary pads will help our women to go everywhere during their menstrual period and hence improve their productivity
Access to affordable sanitary pads will give school girls more options for their future and help reduce poverty rate in Africa.