Menstrual Cup Market Accessibility Model (MCMAM) Scale up - Increasing Youth’s Access to Sustainable Menstrual Health Management
Scaling up menstrual cup sales through trusted community networks to provide sustainable access to effective menstrual management in Uganda
Tell us about your vision for this project: Share one sentence about the impact you would like to see from this project in five years
By 2020 we aim to have supported the growth of an independent market for menstrual cups with private and public sector involvement, reaching 10,000 girls and women in Uganda through different channels.
Who will implement this idea? Or what’s your strategy to implement in the next 6-18 months?
WoMena (3 staff): coordinate project & market advocacy activities & facilitate human-centered design activities (with support from HUE). Design team will include sales agents and MC Users.
Partners: Integrate sales into their existing programmatic activities and do M&E.
• Q1: Ideation & prototyping workshops, secure MCs & refresher training for current partners & development of Market Advocacy Strategy
• Q2: Roll out sales toolkit prototypes to partners, launch demand activities, initiate procurement mechanisms & on-board 2-3 new distribution partners
• Q 3-6 continued activities, partner led M&E of sales refresher training & feedback
How has your idea changed based on feedback?
We have already changed pricing levels across models, pivoted from rural to urban savings groups and simplified ICT materials. We learnt that we need more refresher training, a more robust & relevant sales toolkit, broader marketing activities and better sales tracking. We need to invest in more targeted activities for youth. This project aims to integrate all these elements and together with sales agents and MC users develop an optimal approach.
Sharmirah, our project officer conducting a joint interview with two young women in Moroto, Karamoja with the help of Nancy, WHH Menstrual Cup Project Coordinator (also know as the Cup Lady). These two participants shared with us the need to have more ICT materials and support within the community. Based on their feedback, we created a simple user guide that has been left with the community so that literate community members can help read the guidelines to others.
Conducting a feedback meeting with menstrual cup recipients in Moroto district, Karamoja.
Our partner Welthungerhilfe has been sensitizing communities on the menstrual cup and distributed 893 menstrual cups as part of the "Goat and cup for work" scheme. Together with a local musician, menstrual cup users from one of the 15 communities reached through the pilot project, wrote a song about menstrual cups. We will continue to work with our design team and communities to develop more creative ways of engaging communities and creating demand for menstrual cups.
Using a human-centered design approach, you may uncover insights that lead to small or foundational changes to your organization’s existing strategy or processes in order to unlock the potential of your idea. How would your organization go about making such changes?
WoMena is a learning organisation. We will employ a continued feedback loop to ensure we receive and act upon feedback on the developed prototypes. We already have a cohort of MC users and sales agents who will be integral members of our design team. We will also regularly engage our partners in feedback sessions and address supply and demand related issues and pivot activities where needed. We do not have set implementation models, we build on the success of existing ones and integrate.
How long have you been working on the project?
What year was your organization or group started?
How many full time staff are needed to implement your idea?
What most attracted you to the UNFPA Young People's Sexual and Reproductive Health Challenge?
We are excited about the success we have had with MC sales but more importantly we want to learn from what has/hasn't worked. Applying a human-centered design approach is the ideal opportunity to make use of these lessons learnt. The UNFPA has been instrumental in MHM programming and plays an important role in global product related policy and distribution. A partnership with the UNFPA would be particularly advantageous for national and regional scale up.
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Opportunity Areas – Select those that apply
Last Mile Sexual and Reproductive Health Commodities
What specific problem(s) are you trying to address? (300 character limit)
In Uganda, girls and young women lack access to preferred MHM methods. But donations are not sustainable or sufficient to meet demand. Scaling up tested, cost effective models to sell menstrual cups (MCs) directly to users could provide access to a long lasting MHM solution for millions of Ugandans.
What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address? (500 character limit)
Our work has shown that with the right inputs, MCs are an accepted and often preferred solution for MHM in Uganda. We also know that MCs can be sold; over 1000 cups have been sold at community level through our recent Menstrual Cup Accessibility Project (MCMAP) pilot. But how can we scale up to ensure national coverage, continued stock and ensure safe use on a wider scale? And what tools do we need to effectively build demand and disseminate information?
Who are your end users? (1000 character limit)
Our primary end users are young Ugandan girls and women, aged 15-30 years in both rural and peri-urban areas, who lack adequate access to and knowledge of sustainable menstrual management methods. We have interviewed girls and women that have received MCs with our support; they report feeling more free and secure and saving money. By securing their menstrual management needs, girls and young women can concentrate on the things that matter; going to school, taking part in social activities and building their future prospects.
Selling MCs can also provide an additional income to our partners "sales agents" and provide a pathway to discuss menstrual health and continued support to girls and women in their communities. By expanding access through increased # of sales points, creating mechanisms for procurement of larger MC volumes & building demand, we expect to reach at least 10’000 girls and women with MCs within two years, and potentially millions beyond the duration of the project.
Explain your idea. (500 character limit)
Based on our experience of selling MCs using different pricing/distribution models through our partners (incl. feedback from 45 interviews with MC users and sales agents), this scale up project aims to:
1. Design, with partners, sales agents and existing MC users a "sales toolkit" to meet the needs of sales agents and demand creation activities.
2. Scale up sales through tested & new partner models
3. Develop supply chain mechanism & scalable training model for increased MC sale
One of our models is the MS Ladies model. MS Ladies are trained nurses/midwives who provide family planning services at community level. They now also sell menstrual cups and provide information on MH. MS Ladies like Suzan purchase cups from MSU and sell them at a profit. They are also supported by the MSU Hotline, a toll free hotline providing information about sexual reproductive health, with staff trained on safe MC use and care in 16 different languages.
What is your value proposition? (500 character limit)
Many Ugandan girls & women lack access to appropriate MHM methods, having implications for their physical, social & mental well-being. Reusable menstrual cups are a 10-year solution & have been found acceptable in Uganda. But supply & distribution is a challenge due to lack of awareness & unsustainable supply. Using human-centered design, we aim to optimise existing distribution/demand creation networks, build local training/support structures & encourage sustainable supply chains in Uganda.
What's different about your idea compared to current solutions? (500 character limit)
Most MC interventions in low-income contexts are donation based. We are applying a human centered design approach (sales toolkit), several types of sales agents and a total market approach (NGO, private & public) to work towards a sustainable sales network expanding across the country utilizing existing structures. We have partners who are already selling MCs, over 100 trained community facilitators & sales agents, pilot experience & over 3000 MC users to draw ideas and inspiration from.
What are the key reasons why end users would turn to your organization over another?
Convenience / Accessibility: Making products accessible
What would success look like for your end users? (500 character limit)
1. Access to product: Promoted sales models ensures 10,000 girls and women have accessed MCs conveniently, and models are sustained after the end of the project,
2. Access to information: By training sales agents across partners we also expand knowledge networks increasing girls and women's access to MHM knowledge and support,
3. Generating demand: By using a sales toolkit we will increase trust in the MC and increase demand and sales.
How would you measure the impact your idea has on your end user(s) ? How will you measure the success of your program? (500 character limit)
The scale up project will utilise partners existing M&E frameworks to gather data noted above through routine sales data, which will measure reach and cost recovery. However capturing user experience is not fully covered by their routine M&E procedures. Together with partners we will develop a process that fits better into their existing data collection methodologies. Lending from a project in Kenya, we may look at integrating a "customer incentive" scheme to encourage direct user feedback.
What strategies will/are you testing to acquire end users? (300 character limit)
Our partners have community-based agents with established promotion networks, as well as youth volunteers. The sales toolkit will incorporate marketing materials to support agents in creating community demand. A radio & social media campaign will be developed as part of the sales toolkit process.
Key partnerships - Who will you partner with to make your idea work? (500 character limit)
We are working with Marie Stopes Uganda & Welthungerhilfe/WHH on the MCMAP pilot. As part of the MCMAM project we will include 2-3 additional partners with wide distribution networks. Pharmacy-based models will be explored regarding MC distribution through private sector. MC suppliers producing cheaper MC brands will also be involved. Lastly, we will also continue to consult with the Ministries of Education and Health, about providing MCs through the public sector.
What is your organization’s name? (150 character limit)
Tell us more about you: (750 character limit)
WoMena is an NGO focusing on implementation of reproductive health innovations. We have an office in Uganda as well as a virtual office in Denmark & a number of successful MC research and projects under our belt working with e.g. DanChurchAid, WHH, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Mbarara University. Our mission since 2012 has been to pilot innovations and taking them to scale and we have MCs successfully introduced MCs in +30 sites across Uganda.
To find out more about our work across Uganda, check out our interactive map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1oMROqJIXlHjRhXtgA7du_Mkyv_k&ll=1.7081855641809434%2C31.612354554101557&z=7
We aim to have broad geographical reach, not only to ensure national access to menstrual cups, but also to understand and adapt our approach to different menstrual experiences across Uganda.
To check out our interactive map of our work in Uganda, click on the link below.
Where will your idea be implemented? (200 character limit)
Through MCMAP, MCs are currently sold in 9 out of 111 Ugandan districts: Moroto, Arua, Gulu, Kabale, Tororo, Wakiso, Masaka, Mbarara and Kampala. We aim to scale up to minimum of 30 districts.
What do you need to get started? (500 character limit)
HR: Full time project manager, project officer and admin assistant, part time finance officer and general program support.
Financial: Full/partial funding for the project budget (one of our donors is potentially interested to co-finance).
Physical: Laptops, data collection tools and means of transportation to facilitate the geographical scope of the project.
Technical: Inputs on supply chain aspects (Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition who funded the pilot project will be consulted).
What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?
National - expansive reach within one country
Experience in Implementation Country(ies)
Yes, for more than one year.
Expertise in Sector
I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.
Organization Location (200 character limit)
WoMena Uganda is based and registered as an NGO in Kampala, Uganda. We are supported by WoMena, which is a registered NGO in Denmark and international volunteers from +30 countries.
What is your organizational status?
We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.
What is the maturity of your innovation?
Roll-out/Ready to Scale: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.
HUE Experiential: http://hueexperiential.com/
Marie Stopes Uganda: http://mariestopes.or.ug/