Moreover, the health workers and health volunteers working at Shushastho (BRAC’s health centres all over Bangladesh) also recognised the great necessity for an assortment of medical kits which would facilitate safe births. As a response, BRAC initiated the production of the ‘Kollani Delivery Kits’ for rural women in 1999. They were similarly affordable, hygienic and bio-degradable.
Evolution of an enterprise
The production of the sanitary napkins and delivery kits was achieved by employing female members from BRAC’s targeting the ultra poor (TUP) programme, providing them with fair-wage employment in the manufacturing of sanitary products. Initially manufacturing started in one production house with 30 women from the TUP programme in the Kurigram district of Bangladesh. These products were not directly retailed to the target group, but rather were provided by the health workers and health volunteers, selling them for a small profit during their visits to households. Each health worker/volunteer is assigned 100 households in the villages that they serve. In order to distribute these sanitary products to a larger population across the country, production was increased and the enterprise was created in 2004.
Quality products at affordable prices
In order to ensure quality control, the production and expiry dates are always included on the packets. A packet of Nirapod Sanitary Napkins commercially retailed both in the rural and urban market since 2004, costs only BDT 50 (USD 0.64) or BDT 28 (USD 0.36) depending on size (large or small) and the Kollani Delivery Kit costs only BDT 40 (USD 0.52). The cost of these products is kept low by using carefully selected raw materials.
Livelihood opportunities for disadvantaged women in rural communities
Currently, 284 women and 2 men are working in the five production centres located in the Manikganj, Baniachang, Nilphamari, Gopalgonj and Kurigram districts of Bangladesh. Although still somewhat little-known in the urban market, the Nirapod Sanitary Napkins and Kollani Delivery Kits have been widely popular in the rural areas, and have also been commercially retailed in many hard-to-reach regions like Teknaf, Tetulia, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
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