Taslima Islam, graduate student and newly married woman is a successful sanitary napkin entrepreneur at Chunarughat Upozila (sub-district) of Habiganj district. She from a low income family was forced to marry with a Bangladeshi overseas employee, but she was determined to make a better livelihood in future.
After marry, she thought her study almost going to stop and conveyed alternative options to support her study. Taslima, 23, has create an opportunity to establish a sanitary napkin “Happy Day” project that brings every month good amount of money.
Women should not go out of home----- a culture of patriarchy and conservative religious mores mean women are largely excluded from the labour force. A few number of women have options to get a chance work for a wage and they earn less than half that of their male counterparts. Femaleheaded household particularly are the most vulnerable at the country’s rural areas.
Hope for the Poorest (HP) a sister concern of ASA, world renowned micro-finance institution of Bangladesh has started a sanitary napkin “KISHORY” project with a commitment to develop entrepreneurs of poor women and girls as well as keep the girls in school during their periods. The project has given some girls the second chance at earning an income that use to support their family. Producing 100 to 110 packets per day and 8 pads with each packet is less costly and selling by ASA beneficiaries’ group leaders (mostly women) to the poor community women and adolescent girls. Still, many girls and women are too embarrassed to admit they have their period and do not go to school or sick to works. HP concentrates to produce entrepreneurs who considered as changing agents to overcome those difficulties.
The development of women’s entrepreneurship is also enhance the income generating capacity where HP focuses on empowering underprivileged women and girls to become entrepreneurs and earn an independent income by selling affordable sanitary napkin.
“I first trained as a tailor and was very good at it. Later, I was selected as one of the girls to make the pads, said, Taslima. I was not doing much before I started making the pads-I am lucky to be entrepreneur, and I am now one of the girls running the business effectively. At the end of every month, a good amount in my hand use to support my family. I never dream that I would make such
money without this training.”
Beside Taslima 2 girls work on her project and produce average 30 packets a day. At home she now looks after both of her family and project. The sanitary packets including 10 pads at each are less costly and selling to nearby hospitals, community clinics and pharmacy shops. Like other married women, she does not face additional challenge as her husband’s permission that is going door to door market campaign. Her husband likes the money and most of the time, her marketing emphasizes to raise awareness among poor women and girls.
It’s important to individualise the concept of empowerment and bring the community women and girls about the awareness of menstrual hygiene management. Last 2 months, she earned BDT 80,000 from 2500 packets distributed to hospitals, clinics and pharmacy shops where she gained
more than 60% profit.
Several times, she talked her mother, “one day she would have an earning power”. Mother just smile and might be thought, it was her dream, never imagined that could really be happen.
It is unbelievable surprising entrepreneurship role of Taslimahow the project has good impact to the whole community- is a great story other people say a lot, not just about business, but the product importance that can play in what remains a maledominated society.
“I am very happy with the way my business is going,” Taslima says. “It helps me and my family a lot. I didn’t even know I could reach this level, with people working under me and creating jobs in my community. In 10 years’ time I believe that I will have my own large production center, andI will be training many people to become entrepreneurs.”
However, the free market no doubt offers opportunities for poor Bangladeshi women like Taslima, but it also presents unique challenges. HP always concerns to navigate them with care.