IMHER ASKS: A video profile of Kasole Secrets, based in Tanzania
An interview with Hyasintha Ntuyeko – Segment #1 (Introduction)
Written by Sophie Basescu (IMHER Research Assistant)
Edited by Claire Thomas (IMHER Research Assistant)
Video Produced by Sarah Memon (IMHER Research Assistant)
ABOUT THIS VIDEO
This first installment of the “IMHER Asks” series provides an introduction to the work of Kasole Secrets and Hedhi Salama, based in Tanzania. In this video, founder and CEO Hyasintha Ntuyeko briefly discusses her brand (Glory Pads), why she began working on the issue of menstrual hygiene in Tanzania in 2010, and what has been meaningful to her in doing this work.
This interview is illuminating in its own right, while also providing a foundation for understanding her approach to some of the more specific topics she will be addressing in a series of other video interviews with Ms. Ntuyeko to be released by IMHER over the coming weeks.
ABOUT KASOLE SECRETS & HEDHI SALAMA
Kasole Secrets is a for-profit disposable pad company based in Tanzania that was founded in 2013 by Ms. Ntuyeko, after beginning her journey into menstrual hygiene entrepreneurship in 2010.
Glory Pads are sold at a relatively low price point (generally less than 163 TZS – or less than 17 cents U.S. – per pad, sold in packs of eight pads in Tanzania; the price may fall further still in response to alterations to the 18% V.A.T. tax, an issue that is currently in play in Tanzania.) The company makes eco-friendly claims about their pads that tend to be rare among lower-cost pads, with higher-end packaging than tends to be typical at that price point.
A sizeable portion of the profit from Glory Pad sales (10%) helps to fund the nonprofit work done by the non-profit part of Kasole Secrets called Hedhi Salama (which means “safe menstruation” in Swahili.)
On the educational front, Hedhi Salama works to implement their puberty education curriculum in Tanzanian schools. Social workers and medical students participate in a “Train the Trainer” program developed by Hedhi Salama to then deliver the program within their communities. Recognizing that some girls and women in Tanzania cannot afford to buy disposable pads at any cost, Hedhi Salama also teaches menstruators how to sew their own reusable menstrual pads using low-cost, locally-sourced materials.
The organization also acts as a consultant to Tanzanian and international NGOs working on puberty education and women’s health issues, and it works on advocacy issues such as the promotion of Menstrual Hygiene Day and the removal of V.A.T. taxes on menstrual products in Tanzania.
To our eye, these are some of the reasons that this work stands out:
- Ms. Ntuyeko has more years of experience than most entrepreneurs in this rapidly growing sector, giving her a good deal of hard-earned wisdom about this kind of work. She also manages to combine sharp-eyed business savvy with noble intentions in a way that is likely to inspire anyone trying to do good for the world while growing a business.
- The integration of for-profit product innovation with a commitment to significant non-profit work focused on low-income populations can be challenging for a newer brand that needs to channel profit into continued growth, and Kasole Secrets seems to have found a successful balance on that front.
- Their educational curriculum is more comprehensive than most (one hour per week of instruction, typically delivered over 12 weeks), covering not just menstruation topics, but also puberty more generally, all while fully integrating boys into the program.
- The use of social workers and medical students to deliver their curriculum through an investment in cost-effective “Train the Trainer” programs.
- Whereas most disposable pad companies seem to donate disposable pads as part of their corporate responsibility work, this organization has instead invested in teaching the lowest-income menstruators how to sew their own reusable pads.
- A commitment to understand and work with differently-abled populations, including a partnership with Professor Marni Sommer of Columbia University to help develop educational materials for blind students in Tanzania.
As such, it is our sense that many organizations – whether for-profit or non-profit, in East Africa or elsewhere in the world – are likely to find points of learning from Ms. Ntuyeko’s experiences.
ABOUT HYASINTHA NTUYEKO
Hyasintha Ntuyeko is a Tanzanian menstrual hygiene entrepreneur who is a 2019 Global Good Fund Fellow. Ms. Ntuyeko was a 2015 YALI Mandela Program Scholar at Dartmouth, and returned to Dartmouth in 2019 to work with the IMHER team in producing this multi-part series in order to help share ideas with other MH entrepreneurs and educators. In a sector growing as quickly as menstrual hygiene products, this is a useful opportunity to benefit from the many years of experience that Ms. Ntuyeko has had with this work.
ABOUT THE “IMHER ASKS” VIDEO SERIES
This is the first video in a multi-part series about menstrual health innovation that we are calling “IMHER Asks.” Part inspiration, part “how to,” and part scalable mentorship, this series is designed to understand the challenges, successes, and solutions experienced by different female-focused entrepreneurs around the world who are working in menstrual health, and beyond.
In the first set of videos for this series, Ms. Ntuyeko speaks of her own personal experiences of expanding menstrual hygiene awareness and product availability within Tanzania. In the various short video segments, she provides a window into issues such as brand management, product packaging decisions, how to integrate boys into MH education, considerations for educating differently abled children about puberty, and challenges faced by female entrepreneurs more generally with some ideas she has used to overcome them.
If you have any thoughts to share on the subjects Ms. Ntuyeko discusses, please leave your comments below.