Adopting his mother’s pet name for a product that was born of his gallant response to a primary school classmate ‘spotting’ her backside, Otsile is now the proud maker of Iron Lady sanitary pads
Sanitary pads have long been are something most men shy away from even talking about. But 26-year old Otsile Moje of Mochudi has broken the taboo and established a company that makes sanitary pads.
Styled Iron Lady, Botswana’s ‘homegrown’ sanitary pads are manufactured by Euclea Crispa (Pty) Ltd, Moje’s company that is based at Finance Park. He says he was inspired by the very taboo that prevents men from supporting girls when they encounter the monthly flow. Moje chose to do something about it and proceeded to learn more about menstrual hygiene in China so that he may one day provide an affordable solution to the girl child’s menstrual issues.
His mother was on hand to help. “Iron Lady is my mother’s nickname,” he says. “We are only boys in my family and my mother struggled to raise us singlehandedly because she was poorly paid. Being a single mother is one of the toughest jobs in the world because it comes with responsibilities like no other but has no retirement age or benefits. Managing our home needed grit and determination but my mother succeeded. She goes by the pet name of Iron Lady, hence I adopted it for my product.”
When Moje was in Standard 6 at Linchwe Primary School in his native Mochudi, a classmate became the laughing stock of the class when she ‘soiled’ he backside with her first menstrual flow. But Moje distinguished himself with his gallantry by using his school jersey to cover the girl’s spots. With her chair marked so that nobody else should sit on it, the poor girl subsequently missed school for a week because she was ashamed.
It was when this situation repeated itself two years later when Moje was in Form 1 at Molefi Secondary School that the lad, ever the genteel squire, realised that he needed to step up to help girls when they met their menses, especially that some of them were dropping out of school for lack of sanitary pads. In 2013, he registered a charity that he eponymously called Moje Foundation that aims to empower girls and young women.
He explains: “I attended a YALI Network training programme in South Africa in 2018 where I met a young woman named Vanessa Masilo from the Free State province. We exchanged philanthropic ideas and I told her that I wanted to manufacture sanitary pads for girls in Botswana for free and she told me that she had the same idea. We worked together on proposals for sponsorship because P 5 million was needed for the project. Vanessa got funding from the Free State’s department of social development through black women empowerment and subsequently invited me to join her in training in China for sanitary pad manufacturing,” says Moje who is a former chef at The Braai Place and now a member of the Botswana Defence Force.
Iron Lady sanitary pads will be available in stores from the third week of July retailing at P10 for a pack of 10 pieces for adults and P 8.50 for a pack of 10 pieces for teens. Ever the philanthropist, Moje has freely distributed 200 packets of Iron Lady sanitary pads and says women have responded with enthusiasm about the comfort and pricing of the product.
“The pads provide long lasting superior protection that every woman wants,” he notes. “They have a super absorbent core that pulls away leakage from the edge. Its longer wings give extra protection that makes a woman worried-free during days of heavy flow. We also offer chemical free sanitary pads that protect women from painful rashes and itching caused by chemicals in most regular pads. Our pads come in different sizes and types to meet the requirements of every woman.”