Made by a woman, for women – with love!

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - No­luthando Motswai

a yOuNg WOmaN

The dream of en­sur­ing that young girls from ru­ral ar­eas are not forced to miss school when they men­stru­ate prompted Euo­dia Naanyane-Bouwer (36) to cre­ate a wash­able, re­us­able and eco-friendly san­i­tary towel.

The eco-friendly tow­els are called Gra­cious Nu­bian.

“I have al­ways had an in­ter­est in help­ing my com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially young girls. I would ap­proach spon­sors to do­nate san­i­tary pads to me and then I would dis­trib­ute to girls who are needy in my com­mu­nity,” said Naanyane-Bouwer.

“I no­ticed that a large por­tion of girls in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties sim­ply can­not af­ford san­i­tary tow­els.”

Cur­rently, Naanyane-Bouwer em­ploys three peo­ple who help man­u­fac­ture the prod­uct. She has re­ceived fund­ing from the Na­tional Youth De­vel­op­ment Agency and the TIA has been be­hind the prod­uct since its ini­tial stages in 2014. Naanyane-Bouwer, who orig­i­nates from Kroon­stad in the Free State, says when a girl is un­able to go to school due to their men­strual cy­cle, the days she is ab­sent from school add up to about one term.

“This means that this girl has missed one term of school work. I found this to be up­set­ting; no girl should go through this.”

She also found that the nor­mal dis­pos­able san­i­tary pads can take be­tween 500 to 800 years to de­com­pose and form the bulk of waste ma­te­rial found in wa­ter treat­ment plants.

“I wanted to cre­ate a prod­uct that was en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly. It took me about four years to de­velop this prod­uct,” she ex­plained, adding proudly that the Gra­cious Nu­bian san­i­tary towel will en­able users to help save the en­vi­ron­ment.

Wash­ing the Gra­cious Nu­bian re­quires only five litres of cold wa­ter and grey wa­ter – the wa­ter used to bathe for in­stance – is suit­able. Any type of soap can be used and the prod­uct can be air or sun dried.

Af­ter de­vel­op­ing her pro­to­type, Naanyane-Bouwer found it to be vis­ually un­ap­peal­ing and turned to the Cen­tral Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy and Tech­nol­ogy In­no­va­tion Agency (TIA) for as­sis­tance.

“I also got the South African Bureau of Stan­dards (SABS) on board to ap­prove my prod­uct. Gra­cious Nu­bian is cur­rently go­ing through the patent process, oth­er­wise the SABS was happy with what I cre­ated.”

Naanyane-Bouwer was a run­ner-up in the Global Clean­tech In­no­va­tion Pro­gramme (GCIP-SA) and ploughed her R60 000 prize money back into her busi­ness.

“Par­tic­i­pat­ing in GCIP-SA is hard work. It stretches en­trepreneurs in all ar­eas re­quired for a suc­cess­ful busi­ness. I sin­cerely ap­pre­ci­ate the de­risk­ing of my busi­ness model. This is one of the very best plat­forms for en­tre­pre­neur­ial ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­grammes glob­ally,” said Naanyane-Bouwer

Her fu­ture plans in­clude dis­tribut­ing her prod­uct through­out the coun­try and also ex­pand­ing to other coun­tries on the con­ti­nent, as well as tap­ping into In­dia, Asia and Brazil.

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