Selling quality: Are you happy with the sanitary towels you use?

Jennifer Kananu

Ms Jennifer Kananu co-founder and innovator of Dadacare sanitary pads

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • The world long moved away from sanitary towels made from harmful chemicals and material.
  • Why, then, are Kenyan women still using towels that compromise their health?

Menstrual hygiene is a major component in women's reproductive health, and numerous companies have made a business out of it, manufacturing a variety of sanitary towel brands.

Like with all product lines, some of these brands get positive reviews from consumers, while others leave behind a trail of dissatisfied customers. This was the case with Jeniffer Kananu, whose bad experience with certain sanitary towel brands led to a sanitary towel business venture, known as Dadadcare Plus Sanitary towels.

Determined to produce a quality product, Kananu began by researching on the reasons why women complain after using some products. The more she researched, the more enlightened she became.

“It emerged that some products in the market had some harmful chemicals in them, I therefore knew that I would use natural materials for my brands,” she says, observing that the sanitary towels sold in European countries are of high quality since they are made using natural materials.

She would use these, but sometimes, they would run out, forcing her to go back to using the very sanitary towels that affected her.

“When I spoke to other women about the discomfort they experience such as itchiness and rashes during that time of the month, I discovered that many were suffering in silence,” she adds.

Kananu went ahead and partnered with a like-minded friend, Lydia Wanjiku. Together, they engaged manufacturers and women from various countries in a quest to settle on a good quality product.

Safe and comfortable

“It was surprising to discover that the world had moved away from sanitary pads made of harmful chemicals, to modern manufacturing of safe, comfortable and health-conscious ones, while ensuring that women still had 100 percent protection,” she says.

To kick off the business, they raised a capital of Sh5 million, money drawn from their savings, family and friends who believed in their dream.

“We designed our brand from scratch, right from the concept, materials to be used and packaging, and then fulfilled certification requirements,” she says, pointing out that manufacturing of the towels was costlier than producing the traditional ones.

The manufacturing was also done using the latest global technology which is chlorine free and has incorporated plant-based, anions, or nutrients.

“The plant anion in our pads releases oxygen, aiding ventilation whilst reducing bacterial growth,” she adds, explaining that they had to contract a company in China to manufacture the product.

This is because some of the unique raw materials used in the manufacture of sanitary pads are not locally available and would be expensive to import and manufacture locally.

“They say you can only borrow so much, so when we compared the costs, it was definitely cheaper to manufacture overseas though the freight cost was quite a headache as well,” she adds.

Good quality sanitary pad

The product has been received well in the market and the company manages to sell 5,600 packets every month, with a packet retailing at Sh400. Their greatest motivation is when they receive positive feedback from their clients. The business employs 10 staff, mostly women.

“Sometimes we outsource services if need arises,” explains Kananu.

She notes that one of the challenges the business faces is that a big number of women focus on the price of the product, rather than on the quality of the product.

“So, when you bring a good quality sanitary pad whose price is seen to be just a little higher, they will not be interested,” she explains.

She adds that there is a need for education to enlighten women on why it is important to be wary of the hygiene products that they use.

“We would like more women to research on menstrual health and start taking it seriously the way they take their skin care routine,” she adds, hoping that more women will embrace menstrual hygiene and go for healthier and safer products.

In the future, the duo hopes to open their own factory to increase the supply and meet the increasing demand of their product.