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Jul 17, 2015 10:45 AM ET

Archived: Lauren – Life-improving Ventures (LiV): bridges a connection between an African producer of affordable, biodegradable sanitary pads in Uganda with an existing network of girls and women in Mozambique

iCrowdNewswire - Jul 17, 2015
Personal Story

As a child growing up in a rural coastal town in North Carolina, I possessed both a curiosity about distant places, and a profound desire to enact social change. To this end, I pursued a degree in International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I then utilized my degree by traveling to Guatemala and working with locals to create economic opportunity. One experience, in a remote village in the mountains of Guatemala, lent clarity to my personal direction in a way I had never before experienced. In just one conversation about eyeglasses, I offered hope to a woman who had become farsighted, thereby losing her means of generating income. It was this singular encounter that cemented my passion for global health and my interest in exploring the potential for positive impact that exists when you pair public health interests with business acumen.

Two years later, as a candidate for a master’s in public health at my alma mater, I launched Life-improving Ventures (LiV). LiV is a non-profit dedicated to improving quality of life for people in low-resource communities around the world. Our menstrual hygiene initiative aims to address the lack of access to affordable sanitary pads that 4 out of 5 girls and women in East Africa experience.

Business Description

Lack of access to sanitary pads has escalating negative health and social consequences. Unhygienic alternatives – rags, cotton, grass – can lead to urinary and reproductive tract infections, and these infections, or a lack of any means to manage menstruation, lead to high rates of school absenteeism and drop out.

The MakaPad is a biodegradable sanitary pad developed by Technology for Tomorrow (T4T) in Uganda. This locally appropriate technology could change the lives of roughly six million women in Mozambique alone.

LiV bridges a connection between an African producer of affordable, biodegradable sanitary pads in Uganda with an existing network of girls and women in Mozambique who are prepared to distribute the sanitary pads along with reproductive health education. In this way, LiV is able to create opportunity for economic gain among the girls and women who distribute these products and respond to the local need for improved menstrual hygiene management.

Our biggest challenge to date has been the cost of transporting the products from Uganda to Mozambique. This nearly prohibitive cost has limited our ability to establish a financially viable business model. However, timely and full sale of the inventory purchased with this loan will prove that a market for these products exists and set the foundation for establishing a MakaPads production site in Mozambique – a huge step toward establishing a financially self-sustaining model.

I’m most proud of our team’s perseverance. Despite numerous unanticipated challenges over the past four years, we’ve remained true to our passion and focused on our goal. This is an extraordinarily exciting time for LiV as we are poised for tremendous growth.

What is the purpose of this loan?

In Summer 2014, LiV implemented a pilot program with local and regional partners to explore the feasibility of distributing MakaPads in the community of Chibuto-Chimundo, Mozambique. Within two weeks, a dozen local women sold 2,000 pads, collected market feedback, and generated a small amount of revenue. This loan will help us build on our initial success.

Kiva funds will facilitate the purchase of more than 250,000 MakaPads (approximate cost = $16,000) and transport of the products from Uganda to Mozambique (approximate cost = $3,500). Leveraging local partnerships, these products will be distributed through existing social networks of women and girls in nine communities in southern Mozambique. A partner organization in northern Mozambique will distribute the products in an additional community.

Full sale of the inventory purchased with this loan will provide the green light for establishing a MakaPads production site in Mozambique, effectively eliminating our greatest barrier to financial sustainability and scale. Once a self-sustaining model is achieved, LiV will explore replicating the model to additional communities in Mozambique where the issue of menstrual management exists.

Contact Information:


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