Bona - - Editor’s Letter -

Sim­phiwe Mn­tambo, founder of Pink, tells us about her eco-friendly men­strual prod­ucts

The price of san­i­tary pads sparked the idea for Pink.

In 2015, I went shop­ping for san­i­tary pads and a pack of 10 was R50. Although I could af­ford to buy them, I still thought that they were ex­pen­sive. I also no­ticed that the pack­ag­ing didn’t in­clude in­for­ma­tion on how they were pro­duced. I then re­searched projects that made en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly san­i­tary prod­ucts, and found nu­mer­ous. This helped me build my con­cept and busi­ness model for Pink.

Work­ing with young en­trepreneurs en­cour­aged me to pur­sue my busi­ness.

I started out as a trainee at the South African Brew­eries (SAB). I went on to be­come an en­ter­prise de­vel­op­ment spe­cial­ist, and ran the SAB Kick­Start; a youth en­tre­pre­neur­ial pro­gramme aimed at help­ing small busi­ness own­ers el­e­vate their busi­nesses. Work­ing with young en­trepreneurs who were run­ning their own busi­nesses en­cour­aged me to do the same. In Jan­uary 2017, I de­cided to quit my job, and went to Ghana to teach English for five months while also im­prov­ing the busi­ness idea for Pink. The time away pro­vided me with the con­fi­dence that I needed to fo­cus on run­ning the busi­ness full-time.

Giv­ing women a choice is a large part of my busi­ness.

I re­turned from Ghana ready to tackle Pink. I had a clear idea of what I wanted it to be – a so­cially re­spon­si­ble com­pany that made women feel that they had a choice when it came to the prod­ucts they use when on their pe­ri­ods. The eco-friendly as­pect was also im­por­tant be­cause we use these prod­ucts in a sen­si­tive part of our bod­ies, and I wanted them to be as nat­u­ral as pos­si­ble. Be­cause of this, I de­cided on three prod­ucts – the biodegrad­able san­i­tary pads, re­wash­able cloths and re­us­able men­strual cups. The prod­ucts are made in How­ick, KwaZulu-Natal, with the as­sis­tance of a few el­derly women who sew the re-wash­able cloths. The ladies who run the Mid­lands Me­an­der Ed­u­ca­tion Project sell the prod­ucts.

Pink just cel­e­brated one year.

Although it’s just been a year, the busi­ness has grown in leaps and bounds. The el­derly women from How­ick were re­cep­tive to the re­wash­able cloths that they use for is­sues such as in­con­ti­nence. This has opened up a new mar­ket for the busi­ness in the area of women’s health. We’ve also branched out into giv­ing health talks about men­strual health and hy­giene. The talks are a space for all women to have open con­ver­sa­tions about men­stru­a­tion and health. We’re also look­ing at in­tro­duc­ing more san­i­tary prod­ucts in the fu­ture. The cloths cost R65 for 4, men­strual cup R150 and lasts up to 5 years and the pads R20 for a pack of 10.

Kwanele Mathe­bula speaks to founder of Pink, Sim­phiwe Mn­tambo (28), about be­ing the owner of an eco-friendly men­strual prod­ucts com­pany.

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