Bfree Duo Menstrual Hygiene Cup
Our aim is to help achieve SDGs #3 & #5, improve stock-out issues, and deliver environmentally smart HCD menstrual and novel SRH solutions.
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 2023, we aim to scale our program in Uganda to deliver 25,000+ Bfree Duos, knowledge and support to adolescent girls and women living in refugee settlements and those living in poverty in the broader community also advocating for inclusion of both menstrual cups and barrier method contraception products in the national education curriculum to increase menstruation management and family planning product choice to reach a further 1.5 million girls and young women by 2030.
Who will implement this idea? Or what’s your strategy to implement in the next 6-18 months?
1 FT project manager - Canada & Uganda
1 FT Engineer - ESPCI Paris
2 PT Engineers - ESPCI Paris
3 FT PHAU - Uganda
1 FT M&E Officer - Uganda
2 PT Community Mobilization Coordinators
1 PT ZanaAfrica for the magazine - Kenya
1 PT Business Manager - Kenya
2 PT Interpreters to assist training of trainers - Uganda
1 FT & 2 PT from WoMena to train trainers in Palorinya Refugee Settlement - Uganda
5 PT trained trainers - Uganda
Mths 1-6 R&D
Mths 3-8 Fabrication & Production
Mths 1-8 Programme Design/Iteration
Mths 8-15 Implementation
Mths 1-18 Data Collection, M&E
Mths 15-18 Impact Assessment
How has your idea changed based on feedback?
Feedback from adolescent girls, schoolmasters, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, OpenIDEO, and researchers has helped with iterating prototypes, ideas for programme delivery and M&E strategy. Our programme has been enhanced with the addition of a menstrual/ovulation tracking tool. Feedback has assisted with the process of approval for import into Uganda via formal channels. Research and implementation partners have been instrumental in providing iterative ideas and reinforcing support.
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?
Our change management strategy relies on a bottom-up human-centered design approach in a last mile to the lab continuous feedback loop. Depending on the specific change, the team member expert in the category is expected to provide supportive reasons for the change. Via established internal communication strategies, the entire team is updated. Final decisions are made by the project manager keeping in mind the goal to provide affordable, safe, innovative and sustainable solutions.
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?
UNFPA's Principles of Innovation have provided reinforcement of our iterative process and a framework for our implementation strategies. The focus on youth sexual and reproductive health is what attracted me most to this challenge. This is the goal of the work I do every day. I began Women's Global Health Innovations with a focus and goal to develop and deliver products, knowledge and continuous support to target menstrual, SRH challenges and rights of adolescent girls living in LMICs.
Share the URL for your Business Model Canvas Here
URL for Business Model Canvas
Engaging with the adolescent girls in Palorinya Refugee Settlement to get their feedback on the Bfree Duo, to listen and learn more about their challenges, their personal wish lists, and shared ideas.
Our approach is incremental and iterative relying on feedback at all levels and stages of planning and development. The continued development of the Bfree Duo is truly an international collaborative effort including high-level research directors at renowned institutes where Nobel Prize-winning scientists, like Madame Currie, once roamed the halls, to youth-led program design and implementation partners born and raised in urban slums who are now young entrepreneurs driving social innovation.
The Bfree MC in hand. Designed to be easier for the end user to learn to use properly and especially those challenged to access water to wash and boil. It's easy to clean. It's the first 100% antibacterial menstrual cup that doesn't require water to clean nor a need to boil between cycles to ensure safety. Made from 100% FDA approved medical grade silicone and manufactured in an FDA approved production facility. We strive to ensure the highest quality products and processes for the end-user.
Image of Business Model Canvas Page one with the URL visible at the top. In the box below is the URL for the entire BMC.
Women's Global Health Innovations first Bfree product development, the Bfree Menstrual Cup (MC), is the first antibacterial MC made from 100% FDA approved medical grade silicone that doesn't require boiling between cycles to sterilize. The physical properties of the cup prevent the formation of a biofilm, Without a biofilm, bacteria cannot adhere and proliferate. The Bfree MC is ideal for girls and women living in LMICs where clean water is in low supply or boiling leads to embarrassment.
Meeting and interview with adolescent girls at Self Help Secondary School in Palorinya Refugee Settlement in Uganda.
Open discussion and idea sharing with adolescent girls about menstrual, sexual and reproductive health at Utula Secondary School in the Palorinya Refugee Settlement in Moyo District, Uganda.
Bfree Duo Prototype 3D Design Iteration - Unfolded View in the function as a Menstrual Cup.
Ugandan Team: Laura Hytti, WoMena, Segawa Patrick, PHAU, Leisa Hirtz, WGHI, Felix Mubuuke, LWF
Segawa Patrick - 120 under 40 - for his work in SRHR in Uganda. The founder and managing director of PHAU - Public Health Ambassadors of Uganda.
Putting a pencil and measuring tools to paper is our first step, after gathering feedback from potential end-users, to realize the product's physical manifestation. The first prototype iterations are classic napkin drawings. We then go to 3D CAD renderings, then, when satisfactory, print a 3D mold to prototype, repeating as deemed necessary. When optimization is achieved, only then do we share files for tool fabrication with our manufacturer as we anticipate product production.
Ludovic Olanier, the mechanical engineer on our team, working at ESPCI Paris on 3D renderings of the Bfree Duo in preparation for 3D printing of a mold and sample prototype development.
In consultation with South Sudanese adolescent girls at Self Help Secondary School living Palorinya Refugee Settlement in Uganda.
An interview and discussion with adolescent girls about comprehensive SRH held in mid-October 2017 at the community established Self-Help Secondary School in the Palorinya Refugee Settlement in Uganda. The feedback received filled knowledge gaps we were not aware. Questions on potential anatomical changes, comfort, potential restrictions on use, drawbacks, how to access, whether the device was discreet and similar to the female condom. Feedback informed us of the current baseline knowledge.
Accessing adolescent girls and women in the last mile is challenging due to many factors including infrastructure fragility, geographic isolation, distance from urban centers, and logistical challenges. Here is a bridge collapsed due to engineering failure and overuse by large transport vehicles delivering supplies to the refugee settlements in Norther Uganda.
Joy on the faces of and much laughter with the women in the most remotest last mile in Kenya being introduced to the menstrual cup.
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)
Girls' and young women's menstrual, sexual and reproductive health needs are not being met. Disposable menstrual pads are few, uncomfortable, smell and are bad for the environment. Many adolescent girls are requesting discreet, female-initiated reusable, side-effect free contraceptive solutions.
Meeting with and listening to MTI representatives on the need for non-hormonal contraceptive technologies and how our Bfree Duo addresses these challenges. Many adolescent girls and women refuse hormone-based contraception due to the concomitant side effects. Innovative contraceptive technology solutions are needed that address the entire reproductive health system including the development of effective non-hormonal solutions and the processes and infrastructure needed for sustainable delivery.
What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address? (500 character limit)
There is no magic bullet solution to the challenges we're addressing but I still wish there was. Confirmation as to whether the Bfree Duo will reduce the incidence of HIV infections in adolescent girls via the physical barrier protection of the transition zone cells of the cervix is still required. An RCT may be required before girls and women will have access to the Bfree Duo. The time for this process as well as how best to effectively include and engage boys and men remains unanswered.
Who are your end users? (1000 character limit)
Our end users are adolescent girls, PSNs, and young women ages 10-24 living in LMICs, especially in remote communities and refugee settlements. Girls and women live with the constant struggle to manage their menstrual, sexual and reproductive health (SRH). With stock-out and the high cost of sanitary pads along with the side-effects attributed to hormonal contraception, better alternatives are needed. Adolescent girls and PSNs, in particular, have unique challenges accessing contraception. Cultural taboos, social mores, and religious norms impact a girl's ability and willingness to openly seek family planning methods. Additional benefits derive from the product's discreet secondary contraceptive function. Research indicates that physically protecting the cervix may also prevent HIV infection and other STIs. Realistically, we plan to reach 25k girls and women living in LMICs by 2023. The Bfree Duo provides a menstrual and contraceptive, female-controlled and female initiated solution.
Our interview with adolescent girls at Utula Secondary School in Palorinya Refugee Settlement provided an opportunity for us and the girls to ask questions and gather feedback on the challenges, needs, desires and other considerations the girls could share and provide as we gather, distillate and iterate for contextual specificity where necessary from the information provided.
Getting feedback from adolescent girls at Self Help Secondary School in Palorinya Refugee Settlement.
Explain your idea. (500 character limit)
Adolescent girls in Kibera Slum who were and are already using the menstrual cup asked if they could use the product as a contraceptive. This gave us the insight to investigate the potential of a dual purpose device that would work as both a menstrual cup and cervical cap. A material science component of the product has been proven not only to have a bactericidal effect but is also a known sperm motility inhibitor. Additionally, viruscidal effects on HIV and HPV will be tested and determined.
This image introduces Abigail and describes the challenges she faces managing her menstrual and, sexual and reproductive health. He challenges include access to a sufficient monthly supply of menstrual pads, discreet contraceptive solutions, and sanitation disposal challenges for her used menstrual pads as pit latrines quickly fill due to the pads bulk and disposing of where others might see menstrual blood leaves her worried and fearful due
Abigail is informed by multiple community announcement channels that events designed and hosted by the Ugandan youth-led creative organization PHAU will introduce an easier, discreet menstrual and contraceptive solution called the Bfree Duo. She learns that training sessions on how to use and maintain the reusable product will be held in designated zones in the settlement by local trainers who will be available after initial training for continued user support. All community members are invited.
The ESPCI Paris Mechanical Engineers assisting with product design iterations
Justine Laurent, PhD, our research partner at ESPCI Paris, an expert in polymer and antibacterial surface technology.
Hamyd, one of our translators working in Palorinya Refugee Settlement.
Brainstorming session at the WoMena Head Office in Kampala, Uganda with the implementation team including Laura Hytti of WoMena, Segawa Partrick of PHAU, Felix Mubukke of LWF, and Leisa Hirtz of WGHI.
User Experience Map - Angela's story
User Experience Map page 2.
Our Bfree MC made from 100% FDA approved medical grade silicone in an FDA approved medical device manufacturing facility. End-user safety is our first priority. Quality assurance measures are strictly adhered to. All products are produced in clean rooms with a formal protocol in place to prevent direct and cross-contamination.
Our Bfree MC is a differentiated menstrual cup. It's antibacterial, prevents biofilm formation and doesn't require boiling between cycles to sterilize. Boiling between cycles is the recommended protocol for all other menstrual cups. User feedback indicates users do not follow this protocol. Additionally, the Bfree MC's unique design helps prevent leakage, eases insertion and removal, is comfortable and doesn't have tiny holes to aid suction release that end-users complain are difficult to clean.
What is your value proposition? (500 character limit)
Menstruation and reproduction are holding adolescent girls back from becoming fully empowered, educated, and gender-equal citizens. With knowledge and dignity to manage their menstrual, sexual and reproductive health with a safe, affordable, reusable, easy to use, and clean, female-initiated, discreet multi-purpose assistive and preventive technology, girls will have the agency to make the decision on how they wish to make decisions regarding their individual futures.
What's different about your idea compared to current solutions? (500 character limit)
Our initiative is human-centered in design. Adolescent girls shared their ideas. We took these ideas and reverse engineered to develop a non-hormonal contraceptive that's free of side effects and whose contraceptive effect is immediately reversible. We are single-mindedly driven and uniquely positioned to deliver an innovative contraceptive technology merging evidence-based proven technologies in a novel, reusable, safe and easy to use, multipurpose assistive and preventive device.
The Nia Teen Comic was developed and designed by ZanaAfrica to engage, educate and support adolescent girls and boys during puberty on the challenges they face relating to the biological, psychological and social changes happening at this difficult life stage. In a fun, colorful and youth-focused perspective, the comic provides a creative avenue for teenagers to personally own, read through at their leisure or share, pass on and discuss the contents and information with their peers and families.
Colorful content for youthful engagement.
Covering all aspects of adolescent challenges from menstruation to acne, the Nia Teen Comic is designed to connect with teens in a comforting and safe manner.
Consulting and getting feedback from adolescent girls at Utula Secondary School in Palorinya Refugee Settlement in Uganda.
PHAU performing a flash mob for youth in Uganda to promote SRH via condom use and communicating information of SRH.
Active public engagement events are key to PHAU delivering messages and information on SRH.
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. Discreet access for adolescent girls inhibited to seek family planning services out of embarrassment and social barriers as the product is also a menstrual cup.
2. An effective non-hormonal contraceptive method on hand whenever needed with less hassle to access where negotiating condom use is also a challenge.
3. The product lasts for 5-10 years so the need for repeated visits to distant clinics for contraception products is reduced and stockout issues less of a burden.
In partnership with the adolescent girls because we at WGHI follow the principle 'nothing for us without us'.
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)
We have an M&E expert positioned in Palorinya Refugee Settlement in Uganda to develop a working model. Felix Mubuuke is a highly accomplished Senior MEAL Officer who has more than six years’ experience in designing or implementing organization-wide systems for M&E and institutional adaptive management learning. He has been a leader in design and implementation of M&E systems, engaging a diversity of organization programs and supporting teams to contribute to strategic delivery systems.
What strategies will/are you testing to acquire end users? (300 character limit)
End users will be acquired via multiple channels including online/offline ads, youth-led engagement activities (music, dance and visual art), radio programming, NGO partner program delivery, word-of-mouth peer-to-peer incentive programs and door-to-door delivery for Persons with Special Needs (PSN).
Key partnerships - Who will you partner with to make your idea work? (500 character limit)
We will partner and engage with suppliers, buyers and form strategic alliances. Key to success is strong partnerships. Our plan is to seek procurement partners. We've entered early partnership discussion with Grand Challenges Canada, Global Affairs Canada, RH Supplies Coalition, War Child, Partners in Health, ETHIOPIAID Canada, Plan International, Girls Guides, amongst others. We have and will again participate in international development conferences including Women Deliver in June 2019.
What is your organization’s name? (150 character limit)
Women's Global Health Innovations Corp. (WGHI)
Partner Organizations: ZanaAfrica Group, Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU) and WoMena
Tell us more about you: (750 character limit)
Women's Global Health Innovations is a social enterprise focused on the development and sustainable delivery of innovative menstrual, sexual and reproductive health products for adolescent girls and women globally but especially for those living in low- and middle-income countries. We are always seeking collaborators who share our values, human-centered design focus and mission to deliver the most life and health enhancing devices, to the most girls in the shortest period of time. As the founder of WGHI, my role is overall project management and team building. Team building and collaboration are essential to a project of this magnitude in order to strengthen our capacity to carry out tasks and responsibilities accountably and sustainably.
Logo for Women's Global Health Innovations
Where will your idea be implemented? (200 character limit)
Our plan is to implement first in Uganda's Palorinya Refugee Settlement to measure and refine our programme model. Then via partnerships, we'll scale to other Sub-Saharan African and global countries.
What do you need to get started? (500 character limit)
To get started we need financial resources to enable approximately 6 months of material science research, prototype development, travel, and prototype production. Costs for country approval processes will be required. Human and intellectual support is needed to streamline programme development, to support and prepare for implementation and define specific M&E indicators. Physical space will be required in the various settings but these can be shared space or tarped tents common in most sites.
What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?
It is still in planning phase and does not exist yet.
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)
Head office is in Toronto, Canada
The Scientific Research Team is based at ESPCI Paris Research Institute in France
Local Partners are currently in the Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and UK/Malawi
What is your organizational status?
We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).
What is the maturity of your innovation?
Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.