According to reports, a number of girls in rural areas miss school during their menstrual period in Africa. Stellenbosch University (SU) Law Clinic has found that about 30% of girls in South Africa do not attend school when they are menstruating because they cannot afford sanitary products.
Disturbed by the percentage, Nontokozo Keswa left her job and start LaKeswa, sanitary pad company.“In 2013, I read about young girls missing school because they couldn’t afford sanitary pads. It pained me to learn that they were using newspapers and old cloths as sanitary pads. Some of the girls were forced to date older men so that they could afford toiletries and basic needs,” said Keswa.
Born in Ladysmith, Keswa holds an Accounting degree from the University of the Free State and has gained ample experience in the accounting sector. Initially, she wanted to have her own manufacturing company but due to financial constraints, Keswa opted to contract the services of a local factory that is SABS approved and black female-owned to manufacture and package the LaKeswa brand.
“At the moment, we supply as and when we get orders. Our products are currently available at Macksons stores in Ladysmith. We also courier to customers that are outside of Ladysmith. We’re also in the process of making our pads available through online platforms, like Proudly South African’s www.rsamade.co.za,” she said.
Over the years, Keswa has donated pads to girls in and around Ladysmith, those donations were sourced from other manufactures. She believes no business is too small to help out in its community because every bit helps.
Furthermore, the company has created four jobs so far and is in the process of recruiting its second set of interns from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, through its Itukise Internship Programme.
“A positive that came with the national coronavirus lockdown was the support we received from government departments like the Department of Small Business Development, which has been assisting us in supplying wholesalers, supermarkets and spaza shops,” she sayid.