- Tell us about your start-up/business. What’s your 30 second elevator pitch?
We are a social enterprise that focuses on addressing the issue of period poverty among young girls and women by providing them with sustainable reusable pads.
2. What need or problem are you solving?
We are addressing the high costs of sanitary products, period poverty and lack of menstrual health education among girls and women in Sierra Leone.
3. How did you come up with the idea for the business?
When I moved to Norway in 2015, I realized that there were multiple menstrual products out there. I asked why this was not a thing in my country. I didn’t know what a period cup or tampon was. Then I brought together a team who were equally invested in the topic and we started working on launching Uman4Uman.
4. How did you validate that your solution was viable?
We brought together a focus group who tested it and gave us constructive feedback before we started selling.
5.What stage are you at and what’s next?
we are still a startup and we started selling in less than a year. We are looking for opportunities to scale and expand our business.
6. What is the biggest win you’ve had so far?
Our biggest win is being able to run an enterprise like this without shutting down in our first year. It’s very challenging especially for a group of young women. Every pad we sell is a win for us. Every girl we teach about menstrual hygiene is a win for us.
7. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve to overcome as a start-up founder?
We have experienced many challenges, but we consider lessons. We’ve lost big deals, bids, and customers because we couldn’t produce large amounts at such an early stage. However, we’ve transformed these lessons to opportunities to improve our business and connect with mentors and other entrepreneurs to help us scale and expand.
8. What needs do you have to grow and take it to the next level?
We are seeking investment, mentorship and partnership opportunities to produce locally and increase our inventory. We are looking for an office space as well to be able to run our administrative work.
9. What’s your take on the local start-up scene / entrepreneurial community? What has been helpful?
It’s a small community with very important stakeholders. Our support has been from this community. We have not been able to reach every stakeholder but we are hoping to in the long run. We want to connect and partner with like-minded people who are working on issues affecting girls and women. Any form of connection will really help us achieve our goal.
10. What do you think as an entrepreneur would be more helpful to have here in the region?
A good and strong network is one. However, believing in your brand and product is key. You know what you are bringing to the table and why customers should choose you over your competition. Relentlessly work on living your mission