Being unable to meet this basic need can significantly alter the lives of those who are affected as they are forced to find alternative means, which may often pose health risks.
Having seen the need for sanitary products, particularly for young girls, Babalwa Mbuku (40) from Mthatha started her own sanitary pads company, Ntombam, in 2017. She was inspired by a young girl who once said she preferred to get free sanitary pads from government instead of a free education.Babalwa then decided to do her research in the Eastern Cape to assess how many schools and children have the same problem. “I discovered that around the Eastern Cape some children use pieces of cloth, aloe and others would use cow dung as sanitary pads to absorb the flow of their monthly menstruation due to high sanitary costs. None of those methods are good for sensitive areas,” she says.Ntombam imports the pads from South Korea and they are sold in 37 retail stores in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape. The company hopes to expand to other parts of the country. Ntombam also has sanitizers, wet wipes and a fashion label.
During her research, the 40-year-old business woman also noticed that many girls do not have proper panties to wear while others do not have them at all. She plans to address this issue soon. “We are planning to add one-size-fits all panties to our range of products,” she says.