It's amazing timing that AFRIpads founders Paul Grinvalds and Sophia (Sonia) Klumpp have recently become engaged (hooray! we wish them every happiness), because we have some commitment news of our own: Lunapads has just become an official shareholder in AFRIpads.
Like most long-term relationships, you keep building it over time (in this case, since 2008), not really paying attention to all the incremental pieces of trust and co-creation that are taking place. And then from time to time it hits you that it's actually something special that's worth pausing to take stock of and celebrate: this is one of those moments.
Looking back at our over-20 year career as entrepreneurs, our relationship and visit with AFRIpads stands out as a high point. For those of you new to the story, the journey started in 2008 when Carrie-Jane Williams, then a UBC student, brought over some Lunapads kits to the Ugandan village where she was working on a literacy project. There she happened to meet Paul and Sonia, themselves also volunteers working on a development project, and showed them the pads she had left.
Paul and Sonia, for their part already having identified the issue of girls missing school due to lack of feminine hygiene products, were inspired to start their own business making pads modeled after Lunapads. They wrote to us to ask for our support, we said yes, and "off to the races" they went.
By the time we met Paul and Sonia and the AFRIpads team for the first time in January of 2012, they had 30 employees working in 2 facilities, and had supplied over 100,000 girls with AFRIpads kits. Since then their team has grown to over 60 and they have supplied over 250,000 girls with pad kits. And, as new investors, we are beyond proud to be directly supporting the building of their new factory, which just broke ground this year!
Following our 2012 meeting, we decided to launch our One4Her partnership, whereby for each Lunapads One4Her product sold, AFRIpads are donated to girls in need in East Africa. To date, the One4Her program will have provided over 34,000 AFRIpads to thousands of girls: the largest distribution being 2,000 kits in Kibera, Kenya in October 2013.
While our relationship with AFRIpads' most obvious benefit is providing girls with pads to support their school attendance, another key aspect is sustainable employment for local Ugandan women, and we have also been proud to support AFRIpads' staff professional development.
Like getting married, becoming shareholders is a big step: but when it feels right - well, it just feels right. We're excited for the future, knowing that we are stronger together.
Congratulations to everyone, and many, many happy returns!