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Pacific Menstrual Health Trade Finance Vehicle.

PMHTFV (TFV)

It all began in September 2018 when Mary & Jack and I attended a Pacific focussed Workshop in Melbourne, Australia.  Hosted by Pacific RISE and led by Criterion Institute, the 4 day Workshop, brought together Pacific menstrual health sector groups.   These included INGO’s (International Non Government Organisations), representatives from DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Australia) {the funders of the programme} and of course Pacific based groups with an active interest in menstrual health. This gathering was the beginning of the what would become the Pacific Menstrual Health Trade Finance Vehicle and the Pacific Menstrual Health Network.

Mary and Jack in Melbourne at the Pacific Menstrual Health Workshop in September 2018
Mary and Jack in Melbourne, September 2018
Jack Belinda and Mary on a cold winters day in Melbourne Australia as we did some sight seeing before the Pacific Menstrual Health Workshop commenced
Being tourists in Melbourne the day before the Workshop started – Mary’s first time out of Vanuatu and she was definitely feeling the September cold of Melbourne

The issues for Pacific Menstrual Health enterprises

At that time, there were 2 main issues for us at Mamma’s Laef Vanuatu, and for some of the other enterprises and fledgling enterprises, who were beginning to manufacture reusable menstrual pads. 

1.  How to enable reliable and affordable access to the fabrics needed by local entrepreneurs / social enterprises who were manufacturing and

2.  How can collaboration of advocacy for menstrual health in the Pacific be managed to move forward in a way where INGO’s and local groups alike work together with governments etc. for impact.

The Trade Finance Vehicle was born out of that original Workshop and addressed the supply chain issue for the manufacturers of reusable menstrual products. 

TFV Advisory Board via ZOOM

Roll on to 2020 and the proliferation of ZOOM calls.   Pacific based menstrual health product manufacturers from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa and Vanuatu, were brought together over ZOOM. The enterprises included those we had met in Melbourne. They were Kaleko Steifree Mana Care and Queenpads, all at varying stages of production and all with valuable input into the concept of the Trade Finance Vehicle.

Conversations around how to procure raw materials in a cost effective way commenced. Driven by Red Hat Impact, Lotus Impact and Criterion Institute, and facilitated by Pacific RISE. Pacific voices were at the table (or at least on ZOOM). I was pleased that Mary & Jack supported me as the representative of Mamma’s Laef Vanuatu on the Trade Finance Vehicle Board.   It meant that as a collective, Mamma’s Laef were able to support other enterprises in the Pacific with our knowledge and expertise, so they could better support women in their countries.

Our input was invaluable in the process as we were several years ahead of many of the other enterprises in terms of our procurement. We had developed far beyond the “suitcase trade” of 2015 and 2016 when I purchased, washed and sent fabric from Nelson, New Zealand to Pango village.

Fabric was purchased in New Zealand and sent to Vanuatu in small volumes when we first started manufacturing reusable menstrual pads in 2015
From 2015 to 2017 most of the raw materials were sourced in New Zealand and shipped to Vanuatu

It proves how innovation and collaboration, blended with investment can truly make a difference on the ground. 

Real Results for Pacific menstrual health pad manufacturers

As Pacific RISE wrote:

“The MHTFV prioritises and respects women’s expertise, knowledge and voice in their work and in the relationship-building process. This is a value-added component of the MHTFV that sets it apart from other entities that provide business consulting and financing support. The MHTFV meets women entrepreneurs and their enterprises ‘where they are at’ and uses finance to effectively solve a problem for them. These elements are critical in helping women achieve their dreams to build a thriving and successful business that creates jobs and meets the menstruation needs of women and girls in their communities”

This 22 minute video by Pacific RISE, captures the essence of the journey from 2018.  You may see some familiar faces. Enjoy.

Thank you to all those involved. Together we can make a difference.

Advocacy

The second part of the issues tabled in 2018, advocacy etc. are also being addressed in another forum, the Pacific Menstrual Health Network. Country Case studies are currently being undertaken and later this year there should be updates to share. Mamma’s Laef Vanuatu are committed to working with other groups who understand the value which menstrual health education and awareness can bring to individuals and communities.

Lukim yu

Belinda

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