WildHearts South Africa
A key barrier to girls education in the developing world is a lack of access to basic menstrual health management. Girls often drop out of school during their periods, missing up to 4 days of school every 4 weeks. In South Africa, this issue is particularly prevalent. 1/3rd of girls in South Africa report dropping out of school during menstruation. The implications on their futures are severe.
WildHearts is committed to addressing this problem. To date, we have manufactured and distributed over 50,000 reusable pads to schoolgirls between ages 9-18 from low SEM (Socio-Economic Measure) areas, vulnerable to period poverty. Every step of the process from production to distribution empowers local South African Women and girls.
Our washable, reusable sanitary pads are distributed in packs of five. They are made from five layers of padding, including an antimicrobial layer for hygiene purposes and an absorbing layer for heavy flow.
The industry is currently dominated by single-use products that are non-recyclable. However, our re-usable sanitary pads can be used for up to 5 years and are driving the development of sustainable products that are better for our environment.
The design of the pad is now going through its 3rd iteration to ensure ultimate comfort and performance, particularly for girls in rural schools with limited access to bathroom facilities.
By reimagining the infrastructure that is already in place because of WildHearts Horizon, our document management enterprise, we are able to distribute reusable sanitary pads to girls in the hardest to reach areas of Southern Africa. The pads are distributed by WildHearts Horizon’s delivery fleet, making use of latent capacity in our vans as they collect documents from our customers across the country. The success of this initiative has resulted in WildHearts Horizon and our partners, Old Mutual Insure, being recognised as a finalist in the CSR category of the World Procurement Awards – one of the most celebrated and sought-after awards in procurement.
The factory in the province of Mpumalanga is our 1st franchise and will play a vital role in scaling the initiative and expanding our impact. It is run by a female entrepreneur, providing valuable training and employment opportunities for at-risk women and girls, 80% of whom were on the Government Social Grant System. To ensure we reach the most in-need girls and deliver the appropriate menstrual health education, we partner with organisations who select the schools on our behalf and educate girls on how to use the pads and maintain good menstrual hygiene. This education is essential to the success of the initiative.
Through the continued support of our customers and partners, we plan to expand into neighbouring countries.
Old Mutual Insure, identified and funded the incubator to support the lead entrepreneur running the project and provided assistance through coaching, training, marketing and technical business support for the team of women running the factory. Old Mutual Insure’s involvement is key to the ongoing sustainability of the Mbombela Mpumalanga project.
Johnson & Johnson, provided essential seed capital to help launch the StartHer in Health initiative in South Africa. Their expertise in global healthcare was vital in the development of the StartHer Pads and the launch of the pilot in 2019.
Barclays, have pioneered our 5 for 15 initiative in the UK in partnership with a group of WildHearts Global Youth Ambassadors. The premise is that fifteen pounds provide pads for a girl for 5 years. Barclays has hosted numerous coffee mornings to raise funds and featured the WildHearts StartHer in Health initiative at their annual Diversity and Inclusion Ball, raising thousands of pounds for the project.
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