Every year, through the Young Entrepreneur Awards competition, YBI celebrates the great achievements of young entrepreneurs supported by YBI member organisations across the globe. In 2017, the two outstanding entrepreneurs who won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 title have been given the opportunity, through a collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), to attend this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week in Geneva, participate in tailored coaching and training workshops, and pitch their businesses to a panel of impact investors and sustainable finance partners, with the potential to win $15,000 towards their business.
Filipa Carreira, a lifelong research enthusiast from Mozambique, is on a mission to empower a generation of young women to fulfill their potential by educating them on how to manage their menstrual hygiene and providing affordable menstrual hygiene products.
Born and raised in Mozambique, Filipa studied in South Africa and England before interning at several organisations around the world. In 2014, she channeled her passion and years of experience collecting data into setting up FC Consulting, a company which performed risk analysis and market research for local non-governmental organisations and United Nations agencies.
It was through this work that Filipa became aware of the challenges young girls were facing in Mozambique. “During a trip to a rural area in central Mozambique, I found that managing my period was a challenge and that got me thinking”, she recalls. “How do people do this every day? Menstrual products are not readily available and none of the public toilets cater for this need.”
Filipa started to research the availability of menstrual hygiene products in Mozambique and the impact that it was having on the lives of girls and women. She found that girls often missed school during their period, either because they didn’t have access to hygiene products or due to poor sexual health education.
With help from IdeiaLab, YBI member organisation in Mozambique, Filipa set up Wamina, a girl empowerment brand which aims to promote education and self-appreciation and provide reusable, affordable, and eco-friendly menstrual hygiene products to women and girls in peri-urban and rural Mozambique.
“According to UNESCO, 1 in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their periods because they cannot afford menstrual products, causing them to eventually drop out.”
It is very common for girls in rural and peri-urban areas to suffer from the stigma attached to menstruation. To tackle this, Filipa is committed to creating a safe space for young girls by providing confidence and self-esteem boosting workshops which tackle the challenges of menstrual hygiene and reproductive health.
Filipa and her team of four benefited from entrepreneurship training and mentoring from IdeiaLab. This support helped Wamina to sell over 3,000 reusable pads in the first six months by targeting lower and middle class girls and women, companies’ corporate social responsibility initiatives and non-government organisations.
Over the next three years, Filipa plans to reach 80,000 customers. To achieve this she plans to increase Wamina’s outreach efforts, expanding in Malawi and Tanzania. Her biggest ambition is to begin in-country production of the sanitary pads and take on the wellness industry in Africa by providing good quality products to low-income families.
“Entrepreneurship has changed the way I look at life and the way I can help the community without having to compromise on quality and beauty. Above all, I want the girls we’re helping, whose opinions dictate our future products and services, to feel valued and empowered.”
In partnership with UNCTAD, this year’s Young Entrepreneur Awards focused on young entrepreneurs who positively impacted their communities by contributing to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted at the United Nations in 2015. Filipa is addressing the gender inequality issue through her company Wamina, which tackles the challenges of feminine reproductive health in rural Mozambique.
SDG 3: Good health and well-being – By providing information about sexual and reproductive health, and sustainable menstrual hygiene products, Wamina supports the health of women in the communities within which it operates.
SDG 4: Quality education – By providing adequate menstrual hygiene products to girls and providing them with better reproductive education, Wamina removes a significant challenge which obstructs girls from attending school, increasing their chances of dropping out.
SDG 5: Gender equality – By empowering girls and women, providing them with affordable hygiene products and educating them to reduce the challenges associated with menstruation.
SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth– By collaborating with young women to sell a series of products, Filipa promotes female entrepreneurship and teaches them basic business management skills.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities – By creating sustainable and reusable menstrual hygiene products which produce dramatically less non-biodegradable waste than their disposable counterparts.