'After taking the pricing and health issues into consideration, I decided to start commercial production of sanitary napkins'
Charity group Bidyanondo is set to launch their Bashanti brand of sanitary napkins this month, at a low price of Tk5.
In addition, the first 300,000 sanitary napkins will be distributed among low-income families, free of cost.
Kishore Kumar Das, founder of Bidyanondo, said they devised the plan to start producing sanitary pads in January, 2017.
“Since then, we have been experimenting with the design of the pads. We initially planned to go into production with our own design, but eventually decided an outsourced model was better suited,” he said, adding that funds for the manufacturing of the first 300,000 sanitary napkins had already been raised.
Kishore also said sanitary pads should be a subsidized product.
Salman Khan, coordinator of the sanitary pad manufacturing project, said: “We are optimistic of launching the product by September 12. Of the 300,000 pads we will distribute for free, at least 1,000 will be distributed among girls and young women, especially those living in the slums of Dhaka city, on the launch date.”
He added that the pads are being manufactured at a cost of Tk7 each, but Bidyanondo is bearing the excess cost themselves.
A team of five workers can produce around 500 pads a day, Salman further said.
Kishore, who runs a number of philanthropic programs, said: “Sanitary pads came to my attention when I was talking about cleanliness at a hostel recently. The pricing of such a crucial health product annoyed me.
“After taking the pricing and health issues into consideration, I decided to start commercial production of sanitary napkins,” he added
Kishore further said Bidyanondo is mulling the installation of vending machines at slums, so that girls and young women can get sanitary napkins free of cost once a month.
Only 33% of urban adult women use disposable pads, according to the Bangladesh National Hygiene baseline report in 2014. Sanitary napkins available in the market sell for Tk70-250 for a pack of eight.
Industry insiders say the market size for sanitary napkins is about Tk400 crore, and it is growing at a rate of 20% year on year.