One night my sister was sick and started bleeding. I tried to look for pads but couldn’t find a shop open at that hour. It was then that I first felt the need to do something. I soon left my job to start a hard journey to make pads accessible to all. But an idea alone was not enough. I needed capital, which would be a big challenge. People found it difficult to believe in my idea.
For 3 years, I barely had money for even taxi fare. “What are you doing?” Ama asked. I had no answer. Every financial institution turned me away, rejections lined up. Then when I felt like I’d knocked on all possible doors, BoB gave me my first loan. A few months later, I found my first investor. After 3 years of almost losing hope, I got my startup launched by the Prime Minister. He told ama to be proud of me. She teared up in joy and has supported me ever since. Entering the market was difficult. Dealers rejected my pads for being local, shops weren’t ready to place them alongside imported brands. It took a while to pick up. But when it did, I started hiring.
At present I have 10 employees, 3 of whom are from Draktsho. This startup has given me a lot. I had my first airplane ride to India to buy machinery to manufacture pads. I was also trained to operate the machines. I was a woman traveling alone in pursuit of her dreams.
Every day now, I drop my brother off at school and come to the office. I light sang and turn on all the machines before my employees arrive. Then I do all the paperwork, in between which I sometimes take power naps. I also conduct deliveries for customers. I work to provide locally made sanitary pads and advocate for menstrual hygiene. I plan to expand to other menstrual products and create more jobs. It is challenging to be a female entrepreneur and very tempting to give up.
I used to be incredibly shy and found it difficult to talk openly with men. But with experience, I am now able to advocate for menstrual health and in the process market my products. You must start somewhere, even when it looks like a dead-end. Never hold back.
Celebrating World Menstrual Hygiene Day in collaboration with Bank of Bhutan to highlight the importance of women’s hygiene and to remove any sort of social stigma associated with menstruation.