As mothers,it is never easy to choose which diaper is best for one’s baby. This dilemma becomes even harder in the low-income communities, where mothers struggle constantly to make ends meet.Back in the days diapers were not common. Most women used napkins for their infants which served as a good alternative and it served most mothers and babies well though it had its con of that most babies would wet through them. Then, there was the other group of women who opted for neither. These are the mothers who used to rub it off with phrases like “Huyu ni mtoto, anaeza tembea uchi”, “Let the baby get fresh air from the tight clothing.”
Our recent graduates from Somo’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, Hilda and her daughter Diana,have come up with affordable, environmental friendly washable diapers. Their product has helped mothers curb the health conditions that arise from poor hygiene. It all started out when she saw her neighbours’ children walking without diapers and the mess that came with it, after they needed to go out. She was worried for their health with the poor sanitation in Korogocho, an informal settlement in Eastland Nairobi. Therefore, she asked a friend for a sewing machine and made her first five pieces.She gave these out to the neighbors and then soon,the idea to turn it into a business. First she borrowed her friend’s machine again, made 10 piece and selling, slowly building it up until she was able to buy her own machine. She sells the diapers at Kshs. 50 (0.50 USD) and it can be used for one month. Hilda says she sell 60-80 pieces a day but on a good market day she can sell upto 1000 pieces. She also gets orders to supply the diapers in wholesale, from mothers who also go and re-sell them in other low-income communities like Dandora and Kayole.
Hilda says she is happy to have joined the program as it has taught her a lot. “I used to do business in a ‘Juakali’ way, I would make the diapers, go to the market to sell then come home without making a record of my transactions.” Now, she knows better. She also says, she has learnt how to brand her business, the growth potential of her business, and how to beat her competitors. “I can now talk in front of people and pitch my idea” She excitedly adds.
Hilda dreams of having her own workshop.The workshop would be a dream come true to her.She will use it as a training center to teach other girls and mothers on making the diapers, just like she did to her own daughter, Diana.