Women run businesses win sh.1 million in reproductive health challenge

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Nairobi, KENYA: Three local women-run enterprises providing sexual reproductive health solutions have each won Ksh1 million grant to scale up their innovative solutions.

 The three; Inteco Kenya ARI, Silmak Agencies, and Mum’s Village emerged victorious at the I AM 2.O final pitch-event held at Nailab beating seven other finalists to the prize.

Organized through a partnership by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Graca Machel Trust (GMT), and Nairobi Incubation Lab (NAILAB), the I AM 2.0 business contest sought to reward and nurture businesses that address sexual reproductive health challenges.

More than 65 businesses enterprises from Kenya applied in the six week period from which 10 were shortlisted for the final pitch to a panel of judges. The program is funded by Global Fund for Women and the investment grant provided by UNFPA.

Inteco Kenya ARI is a business that offers sanitary pads distribution services done through the ARI vending machine that is mounted at accessible locations. Silmak Agencies, on the other hand, focuses on manufacturing of adult diapers, sanitary pads, sanitary pads dispensers, and sanitary pad incinerators.

This they do through their flagship product Genesis.

Mums Village, the other winner, is a social support network that seeks to provide safe space for women undergoing gender-based violence through peer to peer interaction.

“My solution is to promote accountability and transparent distribution of donated sanitary pads in schools through an ARI vending machine. I intend to use the money to upgrade the machine and make it more efficient and user-friendly,” said 25-year-old Inteco Kenya Ari founder Munira Twahir who conceived the idea in 2012 while at United States International University (USIU).

Her sentiments were also echoed by Catherine Mumbua of Silmak Agencies adding that the Genesis Care product will address a huge gap in schools.

The winning businesses were awarded based on their scalability, uniqueness, sustainability and direct impact on the community. The final three winners will go through an accelerator training program which will be run by Nailab for three months after which they will showcase the impact of their project to investors.

 “We fund women because when women have power, freedom, a voice, and resources, they are change makers in this world. This is why we seek to empower women through sexual reproductive health and rights which is a personal issue for women. We will endeavor to support such initiatives that focus on empowering the lives of the girl child and women in our countries,” said Global Fund for Women President and CEO Musimbi Kanyoro.

The judges were; Nailab founder & CEO Sam Gichuru, Graca Machel Trust Investments Director Andia Chakava and Centum Head of Investor Relations Suzanne Kilolo. Others were Reproductive Health Specialist Dr. Dan Okoro and Senior Health Specialist at the World Bank Dr. Njeri Mwaura.

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