In many parts of Africa, millions of girls and women suffer significant inconvenience during their monthly menstrual cycle. Often girls are unable to go to school for days at a time, which results in millions of lives that do not realize their academic potential, which cumulatively amounts to a national crisis. Sanitary towels are often simply unavailable, and when they are sold they are normally packaged in bundles that means they cost more than many poor women can afford at a go.
Founded by Esther Mwangi, EsVendo is a social enterprise revolutionizing the lives of East Africans through an innovative hardware and software vending solution. The Enterprise is undertaking a social inclusion project (SIP), the main aim which is to improve access and affordability to feminine and family hygiene products with a bias towards sanitary pads for women and girls aged 13-45. This is achieved through strategic sanitary vending machine placements in institutions, and public facilities like public toilets.
SIP ensures women and girls have access to clean, affordable, single units of sanitary towels, the model best serves people who live In households that earn below 3$ a day.
“We currently have 4 machines located in Kibera, Kawagware and Kikuyu. Each machine is placed in high traffic facilities that range from 400-5,000 daily human encounters,” says Mwangi. “We integrate our solution with community run facilities thus reaching higher number of women and girls consequently having immense impact.”
The EsVendo Social inclusion project is among the 10 finalist from all over Africa in the Ishow competition run by ASME (American society of mechanical engineers). The project produces sanitary vending machines to increase access and affordability of sanitary towels in Kenyan low income areas with vending machines strategically placed. The venture has placed sanitary vending machines in Kibera, Kwangware, and Kikuyu. Each machine is accessed by 400-5000 women in each location.
EsVendo integrates vending tools, mobile and SMS technology to educate, inform and lower the cost of sanitary towels delivery to women living in Kenyan slums.
Over 3 million days are lost every month by adolescent girls because they lack an access to affordable sanitary towels as a way of handling their menses. 1 in 10 adolescent girls living in remote areas miss school during their menses (UNESCO). This girl eventually drop out due to menstrual related issues.
Underprivileged primary school girls in class 6-8 loss 18 out of 108 learning weeks, high school girls loss 24 out of 144 learning weeks. This gaps in learning affect the girls performance. Improving access to affordable sanitary towels, Esvendo is increasing attendance in schools substantially.
Esvendo has created an innovative distribution system that avail affordable sanitary towels to the underprivileged. We aim to increase the uptake of reusable sanitary pads because 65% of women and girls in Kenya we cannot afford.
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