In a bid to solve the challenges women and girls in rural areas who do not have the means to buy disposable pads go through, Olivia decided to find the most affordable and Eco friendly menstrual solution for the Nigerian women and girls and this led her to the Pad-UP Creations.
In this interview with Sola Abe for woman.ng, Olivia talks about the Pad-up Creations, what prompted the innovation and how women have responded to it.
My name is Olivia Onyemaobi. I am the founder and creative director of Pad-Up Creations. I am a 31 year old vibrant, creative wife and mother of 2 children, from Abia state. I have always been the creative child-I made my school bags when in secondary school, I made shoes, clothes, I wrote books, I had always wanted to be the solution to people’s problems.
I had my first degree in Accountancy from Madonna University, Okija and just rounded up my M.Sc in Business Administration. I have been passionate about girls/women self esteem from a very young age and that led me to publish my 5th book-‘More About Girls’ addressing most teenage/ feminine issues at the age of 20. I have 7 publications (both fiction and motivational) with over 7 years experience in multinational companies.
Pad-Up Creations is a social enterprise manufacturing 100% chemical free washable and reusable menstrual pad. The pads are super thin with high absorption rate, they are breathable yet leak proof and they wash so clean when soaked in cold water for just 5 minutes. We are the first company in Nigeria making modern washable menstrual pads. We started operations in July, 2016 and are located in Minna, Niger state. As a social enterprise, we also take menstrual hygiene talks to schools, religious organizations and other social gathering.
Having 9 years cruel, incredible and sour childhood experiences, I raised campaign against child sexual abuse in July, 2015, educating and rehabilitating children, especially the ones suffering from sexual trauma.
My volunteers and I addressed and counseled over 1500 girls aged 7-17 in October, 2015. During the course of counseling and rehabilitating the girls, I discovered that many of the girls are exposed to sexual abuse because of unavailability of some material needs, one of which is “menstrual pad”.
We also discovered that out of the 1500 girls counseled,
68% had infections due to the use of unhygienic materials during menstruation (Use of leaves, rags, old foams, dry grass, sitting on sand, etc).
79% are usually absent from school during their menstrual week because they could not afford sanitary pads.
97% of them lacked self esteem
70% regret being girls because of their menstrual flow.
95% of the girls counseled have had sexual intercourse at least twice in exchange of material needs, one of which is menstrual pad.
All these issues and more led me into research to find the most affordable, healthier and Eco friendly menstrual solution for the Nigerian women and girls.
The research gave birth to PAD-UP MENSTRUAL KIT. It’s a kit of 100% chemical free, washable and reusable menstrual pads with a minimum reusable period of 1 year.
Our products are made from high-performance materials with special machines to provide effective protection for 12+ months of use. Pad-Up menstrual kits provides superior feminine hygiene protection and comfort.
Pad-Up menstrual kit is a product of research and takes care of the worries of most women and girls. Our menstrual pads are extra slim, with high absorption rate. They are breathable, leak proof with protective wings, locks underneath the pant, chemical free and are manufactured under uncompromising quality control. Our products do not retain stain.
Most disposable pads are backed with polythene to stop the blood from staining the pants and this does not allow free flow of air. This exposes most women to rashes, sweating and irritation. Our products are made of pure materials and allow free flow of air.
Disposable pad Vs Reusable pad
I have majority of health personnel using our products. You know people cannot tell you their problems except you have a solution. Most women have been exposed to irritation, rashes, toxic shock syndrome, urinary tract infections and many more health issues due to the use of disposable pads that contains dioxin and are toxic to health. Each conventional sanitary pad contains the equivalent of about four plastic bags! Most people who understand the effect of chemicals to their system would rather use rags than disposables. Four to seven days discomfort of washing the pads can never be compared to the effects of the chemicals to our system. Putting chemicals on your skin may actually be worse than eating them. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach helps to break it down and flush it out of your body. However, when chemicals come in contact with your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly into your delicate organs. These chemicals accumulate overtime because you don’t have enough enzymes to break them down.
It’s been positive. I remember one day, a woman was patiently waiting for me to resume work as early as 7:30am, right in front of my office gate, just to say “thank you for this product”. I am always happy when people call in to say, “It washes as clean as you said”.
The major challenge was getting people who can operate some of the machines. It also took a lot of time, energy and money trying to training the staff. Inadequate capital was another factor. Everyone has a challenge at every point; we are surmounting all our challenges and moving higher daily.
Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme fund
Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur program has been so helpful especially in the area of mentoring. I now have a good understanding of business from the practical perspective than theory. The funding is also leverage to us.