To support the distribution of sanitary pads to schoolgirls across South Africa and ensure their continued education, non-profit organisation Imbumba Foundation’s Caring4Girls programme has recently launched its own locally manufactured range of feminine hygiene products.
“It is imperative that as an organisation we remain relevant and sustainable for the sake of the girls who rely on us every day,” says Caring4Girls strategy, sustainability and education head Darlene Smith.
With demand from consumers slow at present, Caring4Girls intends to increase awareness of its products through sampling campaigns.
“As we know, women don’t easily change from a brand that they trust to one they don’t know unless they receive a free sample,” explains Smith.
The Caring4Girls programme was founded in response to millions of South African girls missing a significant number of school days or dropping out completely, owing to lack of access to adequate sanitary protection and corresponding reproductive health education.
“It is a challenge to find sponsors who share our vision and passion around doing the right thing,” notes Smith, highlighting that despite pads being donated from various brand match partners, additional pads still needed to be bought.
Therefore, the manufacturing of the Caring4Girls sanitary pads, which is funded through corporate sponsors and partners, was initiated to enable a more sustainable funding model and to enable the programme to give away more pads to more girls.
“By launching our own range of pads, we can buy three times the number of pads we could in the past,” emphasises Smith.
Officially launched on December 9 last year, the Caring4Girls sanitary pad range took just under one year to develop.
“Firstly, a strategy was formulated for the brand, including brand positioning, its vision and mission, which was followed by contracting a third-party manufacturer,” states Smith.
Thereafter, a comprehensive project plan was required. This comprised developing a concept brief for distribution to all involved parties, manufacturing trial pads for testing by both consumers and the South African Bureau of Standards, designing packaging and sourcing a packaging supplier, which ended up presenting a challenge.
“The printing plates created by the initial supplier had not been made correctly, so at significantly short notice we had to find a new printer and platemaker who turned the packaging around in record time,” elaborates Smith.
This was followed by signing off on the final product, as well as finalising point-of-sale artwork design and production, launch promotions, a key accounts plan, listing fees and budgets, as well as a media plan, which involved launching the product to the press, retailers and wholesalers.
Manufactured in the Western Cape by an existing manufacturer, using an automatic high-speed production line, the Caring4Girls sanitary pads comply with ISO 9001, which defines the criteria for a quality management system.
Fifty-two people are involved in manufacturing the sanitary pads, which are distributed by third-party distributors countrywide.
Caring4Girls also endeavours to empower women through the creation of an enterprise development platform, which will promote skills development and entrepreneurial opportunities. For example, beneficiaries will have the opportunity to become vendors who sell Caring4Girls sanitary products through the programme’s business-in-a-box initiative.
The Caring4Girls programme supports over one-million beneficiaries throughout South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, eSwatini and Tanzania, and has been sustained and grown by establishing associated programmes, such as the annual Trek4Mandela Expedition to summit Mount Kilimanjaro on Mandela Day, July 18, says Smith.
The programme plans to reach two-million destitute girls by 2022 and expand its footprint into the rest of Africa and beyond.