Lucinda Athieno from Uganda is the OD Young Person of the Month for October 2015

Lucinda Athieno from Uganda is the OD Young Person of the Month for October 2015

Happy New Month and Welcome to October 2015!

Our Young Person of the Month is Lucinda (Lucy) Athieno from Uganda. Lucy makes reusable sanitary Eco-Pads to support retention of girls in school. She founded Eco-Pads out of passion for girl’s education. Lucinda is YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni and was featured at the Start the Spark launch of the Global Emerging Entrepreneurs at the White House in 2015.

Having lost both parents at the age of 12, she became the head of her family, taking care of her 3 siblings. Going to school was a nightmare as she had difficulty accessing school necessities. Read her story to find out what makes her strong and outstanding.

LUCINDA ATHIENO

Lucinda AthienoLucinda Athieno, 30, is the Founder and CEO of Eco-Pads, re-usable, environmentally friendly, affordable, and comfortable sanitary kits. She is also the Executive Director of KWA an NGO in Uganda.

She founded her company out of passion for girl’s education. Having lost both parents at the age of 12, she became the head of her family, taking care of her 3 siblings. Going to school was a nightmare as she had difficulty accessing school necessities. One major challenge was obtaining sanitary towels when her menstruation started. Her dress got stained and the boys made fun of her. This experience made her wonder what she could do to ensure girls do not go through the same embarrassment.

As part of her personal experience, she created Eco-pads, which are re-usable, environmentally friendly, affordable, and comfortable sanitary kits with the mission of empowering a new generation of young females by providing access to hygiene menstrual materials, offering information on reproductive health education and strengthening local networks. “These pads are reusable for at least one year, making them not only affordable, but environmentally friendly,” she says, adding that the pads help young women return to and stay in school.

On how it all started

Lucinda tells Opportunity Desk:

I started way back in high school when I could tie together little clothes to use as pads. I volunteered for an NGO (KWA) when I was still at the University at the time when Emma Buton Spice girl was visiting the organisation. I was paid a stipend of $80 monthly out of which I saved $20 because I had a target of buying machines and training some girls. I saved every month for 2 years and was promoted to the position of Children’s Officer. One year after, I became the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer due to my hardwork and determination and two years later, I became the Executive Director.

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We trained 5 girls in tailoring and made our first sample of the pads. We continued making the pads locally and selling to KWA and other organizations. I went for YALI, won a grant and increased our production, bought better machines, trained more girls and from a saving of $20 for 3 years, the company has now grown to $100,000 and we are so proud that we have now reached 40,000 girls with ECO-PADS, the Re-usable sanitary pads.

Over 40,000 girls have benefited with support from USADF. Production is done locally, creating employment for 17 girls and 3 boys in production , 35 in marketing and 5 in management since. The product has been tested by Uganda National Bureau of standards and the lab results were passed after several attempts and product development stages and now undergoing the certification process.

Awards

Lucinda is YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni and was featured at the Start the Spark launch of the Global Emerging Entrepreneurs at the White House in 2015. She is also a Global Youth Ambassador, Youth Advisor to Washington Board Treasurer, YALI Alumni Board Finance secretary and Nominee for Rising Star in Uganda.

Lucinda at Start the Spark in White House

Lucinda at Start the Spark in White House

What inspired and still inspires Lucy

“My aunt, mum and sisters (Atuki) inspired me. They believed in me and always encouraged me to go even when it was tough. My younger brother who was just 3 months when my parents died and I had to care of him at only 12 years gives me a lot of energy and motivation to work and make a difference in the lives of many.”

Final Words to Youth

“You need to be patient and believe in yourself, seek advice and help, share learning and the sky can never be the limit.”

For more information about Lucy, visit her website www.eco-pads.co and join her Skype: amlucy3.

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Who will be the Next Young Person of the Month?

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